Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the western half, called Irian Jaya or West Papua, is part of Indonesia), as well as some nearby islands. New Guinea is part of the Pacific island region known as Melanesia. Papua New Guinea lies at the southeastern edge of Southeast Asia, to the east of Indonesia, and north of Australia. The total area of Papua New Guinea is 459,854 square kilometers (285,753 square miles). Papua New Guinea's only land border is with Indonesia, and it is 820 kilometers (509 miles) long. The country's coastline is 5,152 kilometers (3,201 miles) long. Papua New Guinea is about the same size as California. The capital, Port Moresby, is located on the southern side of the mainland, on the Coral Sea.
Papua New Guinea has perhaps the world's most diverse population, with at least 846 indigenous languages spoken. The population is almost entirely indigenous Melanesian, with small numbers of European and Asian immigrants. The population was estimated at 4.7 million in 2000. The growth rate of the population was estimated at 2.3 percent in the same year. Although the overall population density of Papua New Guinea remains low, there are great differences between regions. In general, the low-lying, coastal parts of the country have fairly low population densities, while the mountain valleys, or "highlands," have much greater population densities. For example, the Western Province averages only 1 person per square kilometer (2.6 per square mile), while parts of the highlands average up to 100 people per square kilometer (260 per square mile).
Papua New Guinea has few large cities. The largest is the capital, Port Moresby, with a population over 400,000. The most serious population issue facing the country is the migration of rural residents to the cities, especially to Port Moresby and to the second largest city, Lae. Many of these migrants are unable to find jobs, leading to crime and other social problems. The Papua New Guinea government has sought ways to control population growth but faces an uphill battle.
The population of Papua New Guinea is generally quite young, with 39 percent between the ages of 0-14, 58 percent between the ages of 15-64, and only 3 percent over the age of 64.
Since the 1970s the mining of rich mineral deposits has dominated the Papua New Guinea economy. In contrast to the agricultural sector, mining in Papua New Guinea is characterized by large and highly mechanized operations. Copper, gold, and crude oil are the key income earners for the country.
In 1970 mineral exports were a mere 1 percent of total exports. Within 2 years, this figure had risen to 55 percent. By the start of the 1990s the contribution of the mining sector to total exports had continued to rise, reaching 70 percent. The large Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville opened in 1972, and until its closure in 1989 was one of the largest copper mines in the world. The shutdown of the mine was due to what many people have charged was environmental havoc created by the mine. It also became a flashpoint for resentment against the Papua New Guinean government by the indigenous people on Bougainville.
Since the closure of the Panguna mine, gold has been the main mineral export earner for the country, with a peak contribution to export value of 50.9 percent in 1991. In 1994, gold was contributing 26.4 percent of the value of total exports, equal to crude oil as the dominant export earner. Gold is mined at Porgera in the highlands and at several other locations, and in 1997 a new gold mine on Lihir Island opened. The Lihir mine reserves are estimated to be 103.4 million tons of ore, with a mine life of approximately 37 years, making it one of the world's largest gold reserves.
The Ok Tedi copper mine near the border with Indonesia has in some respects replaced production from the closed Panguna mine. Ok Tedi is expected to operate for about 10 more years, though because of a lawsuit resulting from environmental damage caused by mining, the main operating company, Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), would like to close the mine earlier, against the wishes of the Papua New Guinea government.
The manufacturing sector in Papua New Guinea is small. In the 15 years between 1977 and 1992, the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP varied between 15-18 percent. Food processing, beverage production, and tobacco processing are the main products manufactured in the country.
The Papua New Guinea government uses tariffs and subsidies , as well as direct industry support, to keep this sector afloat. While the industry has become dependent upon such measures, the government sees the manufacturing sector as providing employment for the increasing number of urban migrants. Most manufacturing is for domestic consumption only, and does not generate any export earnings.
Papua New Guinea has no territories or colonies.
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Papua New Guinea: Improving the Investment Climate . Canberra, Australia: ANUTECH, 1995.
Connell, John. Papua New Guinea: The Struggle for Development . London: Routledge, 1997.
Economic Insights Pty Ltd. The Economy of Papua New Guinea .Canberra: Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), 2000.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Report: Papua New Guinea . London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.
Lal, Brij V., and Kate Fortune, eds. The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http:// www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed August 2001.
U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Papua New Guinea. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/png_0011_bgn.html> . Accessed August 2001.
Kina (K). One kina equals 100 toea. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 toea, and 1 kina. There are notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 kina.
Oil, gold, copper ore, timber, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, coconut products.
Machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals.
US$11.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
Exports: US$1.9 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$1 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).