Papua New Guinea (PNG): a nation waiting to be explored
PNG has a population of approximately 8 million people: most are Melanesian, but some are Micronesian or Polynesian. The combined area of the mainland and its six hundred islands is 452,860 square kilometers.
PNG’s wild landscape of mountains, jungles and wetlands has helped preserve the rich variety of languages and cultures, which are integral to the fabric of the nation. With more than 800 known languages, PNG is the world’s most linguistically diverse country. It is also the most ethnically diverse country on earth. The official languages of PNG are English, Tok Pisin (Pidgin), and Hiri Motu (the lingua franca of the Papuan region).
Life in PNG varies greatly. Approximately eighty to eight-five percent of the population live in traditional villages and derive their livelihood from farming. The remaining population adopt a modern urban life in the capital city Port Moresby, and other urban centers including Lae, Madang, Wewak, Goroka, Mt Hagen, and Rabaul. The population is experiencing healthy growth, estimated at 2.1 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
PNG is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and as a result is resource-rich. Oil and gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), gold, silver, copper comprise its main natural resources. Recognised as a leading global exporter of coffee, cocoa and palm oil, PNG continues to expand its agricultural offerings.
However, the economy is largely undeveloped as is its infrastructure and tourism sector. PNG has not yet reaped the benefits, nor experienced the downsides, of attracting the mass global market for tourists. Many are still deterred by PNG’s reputation for personal security and safety concerns, which in most cases are isolated to non-tourist areas. But there are many reasons why this fascinating and relatively undiscovered destination should be visited: it’s known as paradise for a reason.
Divers and snorkellers can swim among the best coral in the world encountering dolphins, barracuda and turtles. Lovers of walking and mountaineering can truly go off the beaten track and explore remote mountain ranges. Historians can trace the Kokoda Track and visit the Japanese war base in Rabaul, while bird watchers witness exotic birds of paradise.
Visit now and you are likely to have the country’s wonders mostly to yourself.