Photos of Papua New Guinea

Introduction

Background

Papua New Guinea (PNG) was first settled between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. PNG’s harsh geography consisting of mountains, jungles, and numerous river valleys, kept many of the arriving groups isolated, giving rise to PNG’s significant ethnic and linguistic diversity. Agriculture was independently developed by some of these groups. Around 500 B.C., Austronesian voyagers settled along the coast. Spanish and Portuguese explorers periodically visited the island starting in the 1500s, but none made it into the country’s interior. American and British whaling ships frequented the islands off the coast of New Guinea in the mid-1800s. In 1884, Germany declared a protectorate - and eventually a colony - over the northern part of what would become PNG and named it German New Guinea; days later the UK followed suit on the southern part and nearby islands and called it Papua. Most of their focus was on the coastal regions, leaving the highlands largely unexplored.

The UK put its colony under Australian administration in 1902 and formalized the act in 1906. At the outbreak of World War I, Australia occupied German New Guinea and continued to rule it after the war as a League of Nations Mandate. The discovery of gold along the Bulolo River in the 1920s led prospectors to venture into the highlands, where they found about 1 million people living in isolated communities. Japan invaded New Guinea in 1941 and reached Papua the following year. Allied victories during the New Guinea campaign pushed out the Japanese, and after the end of the war, Australia combined the two territories into one administration. Sir Michael SOMARE won elections in 1972 on the promise of achieving independence, which was realized in 1975.

A secessionist movement in Bougainville, an island well endowed in copper and gold resources, reignited in 1988 with debates about land use, profits, and an influx of outsiders at the Panguna Copper Mine. Following elections in 1992, the PNG Government took a hardline stance against Bougainville rebels and the resulting civil war led to about 20,000 deaths. In 1997, the PNG Government hired mercenaries to support its troops in Bougainville, sparking an army mutiny and forcing the prime minister to resign. PNG and Bougainville signed a truce in 1997 and a peace agreement in 2001, which granted Bougainville autonomy. An internationally-monitored nonbinding referendum asking Bougainvilleans to chose independence or greater self-rule occurred in November 2019, with 98% of voters opting for independence. However, the PNG Government and Bougainville officials remain in negotiations about the status of the island.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Oceania, group of islands including the eastern half of the island of New Guinea between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia

Geographic coordinates

6 00 S, 147 00 E

Area

total: 462,840 sq km

land: 452,860 sq km

water: 9,980 sq km

comparison ranking: total 57

Area - comparative

slightly larger than California

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 824 km

border countries (1): Indonesia 824 km

Coastline

5,152 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines

Climate

tropical; northwest monsoon (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October); slight seasonal temperature variation

Terrain

mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills

Elevation

highest point: Mount Wilhelm 4,509 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 667 m

Natural resources

gold, copper, silver, natural gas, timber, oil, fisheries

Land use

agricultural land: 2.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 63.1% (2018 est.)

other: 34.3% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Sepik river source and mouth (shared with Indonesia) - 1,126 km; Fly river source and mouth (shared with Indonesia) - 1,050 km

Population distribution

population concentrated in the highlands and eastern coastal areas on the island of New Guinea; predominantly a rural distribution with only about one-fifth of the population residing in urban areas

Natural hazards

active volcanism; the country is subject to frequent and sometimes severe earthquakes; mud slides; tsunamis

volcanism: severe volcanic activity; Ulawun (2,334 m), one of Papua New Guinea's potentially most dangerous volcanoes, has been deemed a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Rabaul (688 m) destroyed the city of Rabaul in 1937 and 1994; Lamington erupted in 1951 killing 3,000 people; Manam's 2004 eruption forced the island's abandonment; other historically active volcanoes include Bam, Bagana, Garbuna, Karkar, Langila, Lolobau, Long Island, Pago, St. Andrew Strait, Victory, and Waiowa; see note 2 under "Geography - note"

Geography - note

note 1: shares island of New Guinea with Indonesia; generally east-west trending highlands break up New Guinea into diverse ecoregions; one of world's largest swamps along southwest coast

note 2: two major food crops apparently developed on the island of New Guinea: bananas and sugarcane

note 3: Papua New Guinea is one of the countries along the Ring of Fire, a belt of active volcanoes and earthquake epicenters bordering the Pacific Ocean; up to 90% of the world's earthquakes and some 75% of the world's volcanoes occur within the Ring of Fire

People and Society

Population

9,819,350 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 93

Nationality

noun: Papua New Guinean(s)

adjective: Papua New Guinean

Ethnic groups

Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian

Languages

Tok Pisin (official), English (official), Hiri Motu (official), some 839 living indigenous languages are spoken (about 12% of the world's total); many languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers

note: Tok Pisin, a creole language, is widely used and understood; English is spoken by 1%-2%; Hiri Motu is spoken by less than 2%

Religions

Protestant 64.3% (Evangelical Lutheran 18.4%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.9%, Pentecostal 10.4%, United Church 10.3%, Evangelical Alliance 5.9%, Anglican 3.2%, Baptist 2.8%, Salvation Army 0.4%), Roman Catholic 26%, other Christian 5.3%, non-Christian 1.4%, unspecified 3.1% (2011 est.)

note: data represent only the citizen population; roughly 0.3% of the population are non-citizens, consisting of Christian 52% (predominantly Roman Catholic), other 10.7% , none 37.3%

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.34% (male 1,871,227/female 1,795,700)

15-64 years: 58.75% (male 2,917,668/female 2,851,691)

65 years and over: 3.9% (2023 est.) (male 189,851/female 193,213)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 60.5

youth dependency ratio: 55.5

elderly dependency ratio: 5

potential support ratio: 20.1 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 21.6 years (2023 est.)

male: 21.4 years

female: 21.8 years

comparison ranking: total 187

Population growth rate

2.31% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 31

Birth rate

28.5 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 31

Death rate

5.5 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 185

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 97

Population distribution

population concentrated in the highlands and eastern coastal areas on the island of New Guinea; predominantly a rural distribution with only about one-fifth of the population residing in urban areas

Urbanization

urban population: 13.7% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.91% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

410,000 PORT MORESBY (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

21.9 years (2016/18)

note: data represents median age a first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

192 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 47

Infant mortality rate

total: 32.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 36.1 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 29.3 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 43

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.7 years (2023 est.)

male: 68 years

female: 71.5 years

comparison ranking: total population 181

Total fertility rate

3.85 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 29

Gross reproduction rate

1.88 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 86.2% of population

rural: 41.5% of population

total: 47.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 13.8% of population

rural: 58.5% of population

total: 52.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

2.5% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.07 physicians/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 57.8% of population

rural: 18.2% of population

total: 23.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 42.2% of population

rural: 81.8% of population

total: 76.5% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and sexually transmitted diseases: hepatitis B (2024)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

21.3% (2016)

comparison ranking: 90

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 1.26 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.6 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.06 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.6 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 144

Tobacco use

total: 39.3% (2020 est.)

male: 53.5% (2020 est.)

female: 25.1% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 5

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 8%

women married by age 18: 27.3%

men married by age 18: 3.7% (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 64.2%

male: 65.6%

female: 62.8% (2015)

People - note

the indigenous population of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the most heterogeneous in the world; PNG has several thousand separate communities, most with only a few hundred people; divided by language, customs, and tradition, some of these communities have engaged in low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbors for millennia; the advent of modern weapons and modern migrants into urban areas has greatly magnified the impact of this lawlessness

Environment

Environment - current issues

rain forest loss as a result of growing commercial demand for tropical timber; unsustainable logging practices result in soil erosion, water quality degredation, and loss of habitat and biodiversity; large-scale mining projects cause adverse impacts on forests and water quality (discharge of heavy metals, cyanide, and acids into rivers); severe drought; inappropriate farming practices accelerate land degradion (soil erosion, siltation, loss of soil fertility); destructive fishing practices and coastal pollution due to run-off from land-based activities and oil spills

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban

Climate

tropical; northwest monsoon (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October); slight seasonal temperature variation

Land use

agricultural land: 2.6% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 63.1% (2018 est.)

other: 34.3% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 13.7% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 2.91% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

2.08% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 33

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 95

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 8.89 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 7.54 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 11.05 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1 million tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 20,000 tons (2016 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 2% (2016 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Sepik river source and mouth (shared with Indonesia) - 1,126 km; Fly river source and mouth (shared with Indonesia) - 1,050 km

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 220 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 170 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 1 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

801 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Independent State of Papua New Guinea

conventional short form: Papua New Guinea

local short form: Papuaniugini

former: German New Guinea, British New Guinea, Territory of Papua and New Guinea

abbreviation: PNG

etymology: the word "papua" derives from the Malay "papuah" describing the frizzy hair of the Melanesians; Spanish explorer Ynigo ORTIZ de RETEZ applied the term "Nueva Guinea" to the island of New Guinea in 1545 after noting the resemblance of the locals to the peoples of the Guinea coast of Africa

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm

Capital

name: Port Moresby

geographic coordinates: 9 27 S, 147 11 E

time difference: UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

time zone note: Papua New Guinea has two time zones, including Bougainville (UTC+11)

etymology: named in 1873 by Captain John MORESBY (1830-1922) in honor of his father, British Admiral Sir Fairfax MORESBY (1786-1877)

Administrative divisions

20 provinces, 1 autonomous region*, and 1 district**; Bougainville*, Central, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik, Enga, Gulf, Hela, Jiwaka, Madang, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, National Capital**, New Ireland, Northern, Southern Highlands, Western, Western Highlands, West New Britain, West Sepik

Independence

16 September 1975 (from the Australia-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Independence Day, 16 September (1975)

Constitution

history: adopted 15 August 1975, effective at independence 16 September 1975

amendments: proposed by the National Parliament; passage has prescribed majority vote requirements depending on the constitutional sections being amended – absolute majority, two-thirds majority, or three-fourths majority; amended many times, last in 2016

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Papua New Guinea

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 8 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor General Grand Chief Sir Bob DADAE (since 28 February 2017)

head of government: Prime Minister James MARAPE (since 30 May 2019); Deputy Prime Minister John ROSSO (since 25 May 2022)

cabinet: National Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general nominated by the National Parliament and appointed by the chief of state; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general pending the outcome of a National Parliament vote

election results: James MARAPE reelected prime minister; National Parliament vote - 105 out of 118

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Parliament (118 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies - 89 local, 20 provincial, the autonomous province of Bouganville, and the National Capital District - by majority preferential vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - the constitution allows up to 126 seats

elections: last held from 4-22 July 2022 (next to be held in June 2027)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PANGU PATI - 39, PNC - 17, URP - 11, NAP - 6, SDP - 4, PFP - 4, PP – 4, PNGP – 3,  ULP - 3, Advance PNG - 2, National Party - 2, Liberal Party - 2, AP - 1, Destiny Party - 1, Greens - 1, MAP - 1, NGP - 1, ODP - 1, PLP - 1, PMC - 1, PPP - 1, PRP - 1, THE - 1, independents - 10; composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice, deputy chief justice, 35 justices, and 5 acting justices); National Courts (consists of 13 courts located in the provincial capitals, with a total of 19 resident judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor general upon advice of the National Executive Council (cabinet) after consultation with the National Justice Administration minister; deputy chief justice and other justices appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, a 5-member body that includes the Supreme Court chief and deputy chief justices, the chief ombudsman, and a member of the National Parliament; full-time citizen judges appointed for 10-year renewable terms; non-citizen judges initially appointed for 3-year renewable terms and after first renewal can serve until age 70; appointment and tenure of National Court resident judges NA

subordinate courts: district, village, and juvenile courts, military courts, taxation courts, coronial courts, mining warden courts, land courts, traffic courts, committal courts, grade five courts

Political parties and leaders

Destiny Party [Marsh NAREWEC]
Liberal Party [John PUNDARI]
Melanesian Alliance Party or MAP [Joseph YOPYYOPY]
Melanesian Liberal Party or MLP [Dr Allan MARAT]
National Alliance Party or NAP [Walter SCHNAUBELT]
Our Development Party or ODP [Puka TEMU]
Papua and Niugini Union Party or PANGU PATI [James MARAPE]
Papua New Guinea Greens Party [Richard MASERE]
Papua New Guinea National Party [Kerenga KUA]
Papua New Guinea Party or PNGP [Belden NAMAH]
People's First Party or PFP [Richard MARU]
People's Movement for Change or PMC [Gary JUFFA]
People's National Congress Party or PNC [Peter Paire O'NEILL]
People’s National Party [Kerenga KUA]
People's Party or PP [Dr Lino TOM]
People's Progress Party or PPP [Sir Julius CHAN]
People's Reform Party or PRP [James DONALD]
PNG Party [Belden NAMAH]
Social Democratic Party or SDP [Powes PARKOP]
Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party or THE [Don POLYE]
United Labor Party or ULP [Koni IGUAN]
United Resources Party or URP [William DUMA]

International organization participation

ACP, ADB, AOSIS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (observer), C, CD, CP, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d’Affaires Cephas KAYO, Minister (since 31 January 2018)

chancery: 1825 K Street NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20006

telephone: [1] (202) 745-3680

FAX: [1] (202) 745-3679

email address and website:
info@pngembassy.org

http://www.pngembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador-designate Ann Marie YASTISHOCK (since 2 February 2024); note - also accredited to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

embassy: Harbour City Road, Port Moresby 121, NCD, Papua New Guinea

mailing address: Harbour City Road, Port Moresby 121, NCD, Papua New Guinea

telephone: [675] 308-9100

email address and website:
ConsularPortMoresby@state.gov

https://pg.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

divided diagonally from upper hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is red with a soaring yellow bird of paradise centered; the lower triangle is black with five, white, five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross constellation centered; red, black, and yellow are traditional colors of Papua New Guinea; the bird of paradise - endemic to the island of New Guinea - is an emblem of regional tribal culture and represents the emergence of Papua New Guinea as a nation; the Southern Cross, visible in the night sky, symbolizes Papua New Guinea's connection with Australia and several other countries in the South Pacific

National symbol(s)

bird of paradise; national colors: red, black

National anthem

name: "O Arise All You Sons"

lyrics/music: Thomas SHACKLADY

note: adopted 1975

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 1 (cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Kuk Early Agricultural Site

Economy

Economic overview

lower middle-income Pacific island economy; primarily informal agrarian sector; natural resource-rich; key liquified natural gas exporter; growing young workforce; slow post-pandemic recovery; increasingly impoverished citizenry; sustainable inflation

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$36.589 billion (2021 est.)
$36.479 billion (2020 est.)
$37.672 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 129

Real GDP growth rate

0.3% (2021 est.)
-3.17% (2020 est.)
4.48% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 191

Real GDP per capita

$3,700 (2021 est.)
$3,700 (2020 est.)
$3,900 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 190

GDP (official exchange rate)

$19.82 billion (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.48% (2021 est.)
4.87% (2020 est.)
3.93% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 151

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: B2 (2016)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 22.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 42.9% (2017 est.)

services: 35% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 219; industry 22; agriculture 40

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 43.7% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 19.7% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 10% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.4% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 49.3% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -22.3% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

oil palm fruit, bananas, coconuts, fruit, sweet potatoes, game meat, yams, roots/tubers nes, vegetables, taro

Industries

oil and gas; mining (gold, copper, and nickel); palm oil processing; plywood and wood chip production; copra crushing; construction; tourism; fishing; livestock (pork, poultry, cattle) and dairy farming; spice products (turmeric, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, chili, pepper, citronella, and nutmeg)

Industrial production growth rate

-7.5% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 194

Labor force

3.073 million (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 103

Unemployment rate

2.75% (2021 est.)
2.6% (2020 est.)
2.45% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 28

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 5.3% (2021 est.)

male: 6.3%

female: 4.2%

comparison ranking: total 187

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 40.5% (1996)

Remittances

0.01% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.01% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.02% of GDP (2018 est.)

Budget

revenues: $4.039 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $5.135 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 166

Public debt

48.68% of GDP (2020 est.)
40.15% of GDP (2019 est.)
36.67% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 112

Taxes and other revenues

11.88% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 178

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$5.451 billion (2018 est.)
$5.348 billion (2017 est.)
$5.175 billion (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 32

Exports

$11 billion (2021 est.)
$9.36 billion (2020 est.)
$11 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in current year dollars

comparison ranking: 102

Exports - partners

Japan 25%, China 25%, Australia 16%, Taiwan 6%, South Korea 6% (2021)

Exports - commodities

natural gas, gold, copper, palm oil, nickel, crude petroleum, lumber, refined petroleum, tuna, coffee (2021)

Imports

$4.25 billion (2021 est.)
$3.77 billion (2020 est.)
$4.14 billion (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 150

Imports - partners

Australia 27%, China 25%, Singapore 13%, Malaysia 8%, Indonesia 5% (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, rice, delivery trucks, excavation machinery, motor vehicle parts (2021)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.339 billion (31 December 2019 est.)
$2.239 billion (31 December 2018 est.)
$1.762 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Debt - external

$17.94 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$18.28 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 97

Exchange rates

kina (PGK) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
3.509 (2021 est.)
3.46 (2020 est.)
3.388 (2019 est.)
3.293 (2018 est.)
3.189 (2017 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 20.9% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 65.1% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 14% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 1.139 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 3,701,693,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 340 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 132; transmission/distribution losses 75; imports 147; exports 134; consumption 134

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 80.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 18.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 37,200 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 38,200 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 60,300 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 27,400 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 159.7 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

22,170 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 88

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 185

Refined petroleum products - imports

17,110 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 134

Natural gas

production: 11,784,065,000 cubic meters (2020 est.)

consumption: 166.984 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

exports: 11,764,498,000 cubic meters (2020 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 183.125 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

6.491 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 5.965 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 526,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 128

Energy consumption per capita

11.316 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 151

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 166,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 124

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4.8 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 48 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 125

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: fixed-line teledensity in Papua New Guinea has seen little change over the past two decades; progress in the country’s telecom sector has come primarily from mobile networks, where accessibility has expanded considerably in recent years, with population coverage increasing from less than 3% in 2006 to more than 90% by early 2021; the MNOs operate networks offering services based on GSM, 3G, and 4G, depending on location; GSM is prevalent in many rural and remote areas, while 3G and 4G are centered more on urban areas; MNOs’ investments in 4G are growing, though GSM still represents the bulk of all mobile connections owing to the low penetration of smartphones and the concentration of high-speed data networks predominantly in high value urban areas; a lack of sufficient competition and investment in the wire line segment has driven up prices and hampered network coverage and quality; infrastructure deployment costs are high, partly due to the relatively low subscriber base, the difficult terrain, and the high proportion of the population living in rural areas; fixed telecom infrastructure is almost non-existent outside urban centers, leaving most of the population under served; PNG is the Pacific region’s largest poorly developed telecom market, with only around 22% of its people connected to the internet; this falls far behind the recommended targets set in the country’s draft National Broadband Policy, which aimed to provide universal mobile broadband access; low international capacity has meant that internet services are slow and unreliable; two subsea cables connect PNG to Australia (landing at Sydney) and the United States (Guam); despite the improvement in recent years, the country is still impacted by a connectivity infrastructure deficit, making it reliant on more expensive alternatives such as satellites, also weighing on the affordability of services for end-users; the government granted a license to Starlink at the beginning of 2024, which should improve digital access in rural areas (2023)

domestic: fixed-line nearly 2 per 100 and mobile-cellular is 48 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 675; landing points for the Kumul Domestic Submarine Cable System, PNG-LNG, APNG-2, CSCS the PPC-1 submarine cables to Australia, Guam, PNG and Solomon Islands; and CS² to PNG, Solomon Islands, and Australia; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2023)

Broadcast media

5 TV stations: 1 commercial station (TV Wan), 2 state-run stations, (National Broadcasting Corporation and EMTV - formerly a commercial TV station previously owned by Fiji Television Limited but PNG’s Telikom purchased it in Jan 2016, hence being state-run); 1 digital free-to-view network launched in 2014, and 1 satellite network Click TV (PNGTV) launched in 2015; the state-run NBC operates 3 radio networks with multiple repeaters and about 20 provincial stations; several commercial radio stations with multiple transmission points as well as several community stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters are accessible (2023)

Internet users

total: 3.168 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 32% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 116

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 21,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.2 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 165

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 48

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 964,713 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 30.93 million (2018) mt-km

Airports

535 (2024)

comparison ranking: 14

Heliports

3 (2024)

Pipelines

264 km oil (2013)

Roadways

total: 24,862 km (2015)

paved: 2,647 km (2015)

unpaved: 22,215 km (2015)

comparison ranking: total 108

Waterways

11,000 km (2011)

comparison ranking: 14

Merchant marine

total: 205 (2023)

by type: container ship 6, general cargo 89, oil tanker 4, other 106

comparison ranking: total 65

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Kimbe, Lae, Madang, Rabaul, Wewak

LNG terminal(s) (export): Port Moresby

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF): Land Element, Maritime Element, Air Element

Ministry of Internal Security: Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) (2024)

Military expenditures

0.3% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.4% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.4% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.3% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.3% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 164

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 2,500 active-duty PNGDF troops (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the PNGDF is lightly armed; most of its military assistance has come from Australia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2024)

Military - note

the PNGDF is a small and lightly armed force tasked with defense of the country and its territories against external attack, as well as internal security and socio-economic development duties; following some inter-tribal violence in Wapenamanda in early 2024, the PNGDF was given arrest powers; the Land Element includes two infantry battalions, plus small supporting engineer, communications, explosive ordnance disposal, and medical units; the Air Element is a small air wing operating a light transport aircraft and a few leased helicopters, while the Maritime Element consists of a few patrol boats and landing craft

the PNGDF was established in 1973, and its primary combat unit, the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (RPIR), is descended from Australian Army infantry battalions comprised of native soldiers and led by Australian officers and non-commissioned officers formed during World War II to help fight the Japanese; the RPIR was disbanded after the war, but reestablished in 1951 as part of the Australian Army where it continued to serve until Papua New Guinea gained its independence in 1975, when it became part of the PNGDF

Papua New Guinea's traditional security partners are Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the US; Australia and the US are assisting the country with expanding and improving the Defense Force naval base at Lombrum on Manus Island; the US first established a Lombrum base in 1944 during World War II; in recent years, Papua New Guinea has established security ties with France and the UK; the US and PNG signed a defense cooperation agreement in May 2023, which included a shiprider agreement that provides the opportunity for PNG personnel to work on US Coast Guard and US Navy vessels, and vice versa, to tackle maritime crime such as illegal fishing (2024)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Papua New Guinea-Indonesia: Papua New Guinea ratified an agreement governing their mutual border in 2023; migrants and separatists crossing the porous 760-kilometer (472-mile) border have complicated diplomatic relations

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 11,432 (Indonesia) (mid-year 2022)

IDPs: 91,000 (tribal conflict, inter-communal violence) (2022)

stateless persons: 15 (2022)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Papua New Guinea does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore, Papua New Guinea was downgraded to Tier 3; officials took some steps such as investigating government complicity in a sex trafficking syndicate; however, the government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers or identify and assist victims, and it often deported potential victims without screening them; endemic corruption and complicity among officials, particularly in the logging and fishing sectors, left foreigners and locals vulnerable to trafficking; the lack of resources for anti-trafficking efforts, low awareness among officials and the public, and lack of training and awareness activities continued to hinder progress (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Papua New Guinea, and Papua New Guineans are exploited abroad; traffickers use Papua New Guinea as a transit point to exploit foreign victims in other countries; foreign and local women and children are exploited in sex trafficking and in forced labor in domestic service, the tourism sector, manual labor, begging, and street vending; families or tribe members reportedly exploit children in sex trafficking or forced labor; some parents force their daughters into marriages or child sex trafficking to resolve debts or disputes, or force children to beg or sell goods on the street; young women and girls face exploitation in sex trafficking and domestic service as part of marriages that involve a “bride price” of money or chattel; traffickers force some children into criminal gold panning; adolescent boys are increasingly involved in intercommunal armed conflict, possibly via forced recruitment by local leaders; LGBTQI+ individuals are vulnerable to trafficking; asylum seekers detained in Papua New Guinea while attempting to reach Australia may face increased vulnerability to forced labor or sex trafficking; Chinese, Malaysian, and local men are forced to work in logging and mining camps; migrant women from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand are recruited by Chinese and Malaysian-based logging companies and subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude at logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites; local and foreign men and boys seeking work on fishing vessels are at risk of debt bondage, harsh working and living conditions, and physical violence; government officials reportedly facilitate trafficking by accepting bribes or ignoring trafficking in return for political favors (2023) 

Illicit drugs

transit point for smuggling drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine; major consumer of cannabis