I’ve been living in Papua New Guinea for seven weeks now, and many in the blogging world have asked me: “Where exactly is Papua New Guinea?”
Good question. This is a country that is certainly off the travel radar, and for my friends in the US or Europe, it’s not likely that PNG would make the nightly news too often.
PNG, despite its rugged, mountainous beauty, uncrowded white sand beaches, amazing dive sites, remote tribes and unique birds and wildlife, remains virtually untouched by tourism. As Wikitravel describes it, beyond the few places that have been developed for tourism, “PNG is 120% adventure travel and not for the inexperienced or faint of heart.”
Well, given it’s my new home I thought I’d share a few facts for those not so familiar with this South Pacific country.
- Papua New Guinea is an island country in the South Pacific ocean
- The country shares a border with Indonesia, and is 160km north of Australia
- The country has a population of around 6-7 million people
- The capital city is Port Moresby, however only 18 percent of people live in urban centres
- Of this fairly small population, there are over 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea – more than any other country
- Most adults speak around three languages – and often many more!
- The three official languages are English, Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) and Motu
- The country gained its independence from Australia in 1975, but prior to being a colony of Australia it was ruled by Germany (the northern half of the country) and Britain (southern half)
- The first recorded sighting of Papua New Guinea occurred in 1512; the first landing was by the Portuguese and the country was named Ilhas dos Papuas meaning Land of the Fuzzy Hair
- There are around 500 airports, and air and sea are the easiest ways to get around the country because of its mountainous terrain
- There are still some parts of the country which remain unexplored, mostly because of that mountainous terrain
- Every year, new species of flora and fauna are discovered, and many more undiscovered species are thought to exist
- Kina is the currency of the country and it is comprised of 100 toea (pronounced toy-ah); kina means shell
- Pigs remain highly valuable; run over one and you can expect to pay a fairly high price to compensate its owner
- One of the country’s favourite sports is rugby league
- The majority of the population live in traditional societies and practice subsistence-based agriculture
- Tribal warfare still exists throughout the country, and can shut down areas of the country (mostly remote areas) from time to time
- Head-hunting and cannibalism have mostly been wiped out, but is believed to exist in some areas of the country still
- Port Moresby is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with high levels of violent crime and raskols who are responsible for indiscriminate crime
- Because of this, you can expect to see a hell of a lot of barb wire and razor wire around the city
- I’m not a beer drinker, but according to my boyfriend the local brew, SP Lager (short for South Pacific), is pretty damn good!
Sources of information and images: