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Papua New Guinea ( , also or ; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini) (PNG), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guineamarker and numerous offshore islands (the western portion of the island is a part of the Indonesianmarker provinces of Papuamarker and West Papuamarker). It is located in the southwestern Pacific Oceanmarker, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. Its capital, and one of its few major cities, is Port Moresbymarker. It is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under 7 million. It is also one of the most rural, with only 18% of its people living in urban centres. The country is one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea.

The majority of the population lives in traditional societies and practise subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation's constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution (Preamble 5(4)) expresses the wish for traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society, and for active steps to be taken in their preservation. The PNG legislature has enacted various laws in which a type of tenure called "customary land title" is recognised, meaning that the traditional lands of the indigenous peoples have some legal basis to inalienable tenure. This customary land notionally covers most of the usable land in the country (some 97% of total land area); alienated land is either held privately under State Lease or is government land. Freehold Title (also known as fee simple) can only be held by Papua New Guinea citizens.

The country's geography is diverse and, in places, extremely rugged. A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region. Dense rainforests can be found in the lowland and coastal areas. This terrain has made it difficult for the country to develop transportation infrastructure. In some areas, airplanes are the only mode of transport. After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975. It remains a realm of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea. Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than US$1.25 per day.

History

Human remains have been found which have been dated to about 50,000 years ago. These ancient inhabitants probably had their origins in Southeast Asia, themselves originating in Africa 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. New Guinea was one of the first landmasses after Africa and Eurasia to be populated by modern humans, with the first migration at approximately the same time as that of Australia. Agriculture was independently developed in the New Guinea highlands around 7,000 BC, making it one of the few areas of original plant domestication in the world. A major migration of Austronesian speaking peoples came to coastal regions roughly 2,500 years ago, and this is correlated with the introduction of pottery, pigs, and certain fishing techniques. More recently, some 300 years ago, the sweet potato entered New Guinea having been introduced to the Moluccasmarker from South America by the locally dominant colonial power, Portugalmarker. The far higher crop yields from sweet potato gardens radically transformed traditional agriculture; sweet potato largely supplanted the previous staple, taro, and gave rise to a significant increase in population in the highlands.

Little was known in the West about the island until the nineteenth century, although traders from Southeast Asia had been visiting New Guinea as long as 5,000 years ago collecting bird of paradise plumes, and Spanish and Portuguese explorers had encountered it as early as the sixteenth century (1526 and 1527 Dom Jorge de Meneses). The country's dual name results from its complex administrative history before Independence. The word papua is derived from pepuah a Malay word describing the frizzy Melanesian hair, and "New Guinea" (Nueva Guinea) was the name coined by the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez, who in 1545 noted the resemblance of the people to those he had earlier seen along the Guineamarker coast of Africa.
The northern half of the country came into Germanmarker hands in 1884 as German New Guinea. During World War I, it was occupied by Australia, which had begun administering British New Guinea, the southern part, as the re-named Papua in 1904. After World War I, Australia was given a mandate to administer the former German New Guinea by the League of Nations. Papua, by contrast, was deemed to be an External Territory of the Australian Commonwealth, though as a matter of law it remained a British possession, an issue which had significance for the country's post-Independence legal system after 1975. This difference in legal status meant that Papua and New Guinea had entirely separate administrations, both controlled by Australia.

The New Guinea campaign (1942-1945) was one of the major military campaigns of World War II. Approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian and American soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea Campaign. The two territories were combined into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea after World War II, which later was simply referred to as "Papua New Guinea". The Administration of Papua became open to United Nations oversight. However, certain statutes continued (and continue) to have application only in one of the two territories, a matter considerably complicated today by the adjustment of the former boundary among contiguous provinces with respect to road access and language groups, so that such statutes apply on one side only of a boundary which no longer exists.

Peaceful independence from Australia, the de facto metropolitan power, occurred on September 16, 1975, and close ties remain (Australiaremains the largest bilateral aid donor to Papua New Guinea).

A secessionist revolt in 1975-76 on Bougainville Islandmarker resulted in an eleventh-hour modification of the draft Constitution of Papua New Guinea to allow for Bougainville and the other eighteen districts of pre-Independence Papua New Guinea to have quasi-federal status as provinces. The revolt recurred and claimed 20,000 lives from 1988 until it was resolved in 1997. Following the revolt, Autonomous Bougainville elected Joseph Kabui as president, but he was succeeded by deputy John Tabinaman. Tabinaman remained leader until a new popular election occurred in December 2008, with James Tanis emerging as the winner. Anti-Chinese rioting, involving tens of thousands of people, broke out in May 2009.

Politics

Papua New Guinea is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. It had been expected by the constitutional convention, which prepared the draft constitution, and by Australia, the outgoing metropolitan power, that Papua New Guinea would choose not to retain its link with the British monarchy. The founders, however, considered that imperial honours had a cachet that the newly independent state would not be able to confer with a purely indigenous honours system — the Monarchy was thus maintained. The Queen is represented by the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, currently Sir Paulias Matane. Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islandsmarker are unusual among Commonwealth realms in that their Governors-General are effectively selected by the legislature rather than by the executive branch, as in some parliamentary democracies.

Actual executive power lies with the Prime Minister, who heads the cabinet. The current Prime Minister is Sir Michael Somare. The unicameral National Parliament has 109 seats, of which 20 are occupied by the governors of the 19 provinces and the National Capital District (NCD). Candidates for members of parliament are voted upon when the prime minister calls a national election, a maximum of five years after the previous national election. In the early years of independence, the instability of the party system led to frequent votes of no confidence in Parliament with resulting falls of the government of the day and the need for national elections, in accordance with the conventions of parliamentary democracy. In recent years, successive governments have passed legislation preventing such votes sooner than 18 months after a national election. This has arguably resulted in greater stability, though perhaps at a cost of reducing the accountability of the executive branch of government.

Elections in PNG attract large numbers of candidates. After independence in 1975, members were elected by the first past the post system, with winners frequently gaining less than 15% of the vote. Electoral reforms in 2001 introduced the Limited Preferential Vote system (LPV), a version of the Alternative Vote. The 2007 general election was the first to be conducted using LPV.

Law

The unicameral Parliament enacts legislation in the same manner as in other jurisdictions having "cabinet," "responsible government," or "parliamentary democracy": it is introduced by the executive government to the legislature, debated and, if passed, becomes law when it receives royal assent by the Governor-General. Most legislation is actually regulation implemented by the bureaucracy under enabling legislation previously passed by Parliament.

All ordinary statutes enacted by Parliament must be consistent with the Constitution. The courts have jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of statutes, both in disputes before them and on a reference where there is no dispute but only an abstract question of law. Unusual among developing countries, the judicial branch of government in Papua New Guinea has remained remarkably independent, and successive executive governments have continued to respect its authority.

The "underlying law" — that is, the common law of Papua New Guinea — consists of Australian common law as it stood on September 16, 1975 (the date of Independence), and thereafter the decisions of PNG’s own courts. The courts are directed by the Constitution and, latterly, the Underlying Law Act, to take note of the "custom" of traditional communities, with a view to determining which customs are common to the whole country and may be declared also to be part of the underlying law. In practice, this has proved extremely difficult and has been largely neglected. Statutes are largely adapted from overseas jurisdictions, primarily Australia and England. Advocacy in the courts follows the adversarial pattern of other common law countries.

Regions, provinces and districts

Papua New Guinea is divided into four regions, that are not the primary administrative divisions but are quite significant in many aspects of government, commercial, sporting and other activities.

The nation has 20 province-level divisions: eighteen provinces, the Autonomous Region of Bougainvillemarker and the National Capital District. Each province is divided into one or more districts, which in turn are divided into one or more Local Level Government areas.

Provinces are the primary administrative divisions of the country. Provincial governments are branches of the national government — Papua New Guinea is not a federation of provinces. The province-level divisions are as follows:

  1. Centralmarker
  2. Chimbu (Simbumarker)
  3. Eastern Highlandsmarker
  4. East New Britainmarker
  5. East Sepikmarker
  6. Engamarker
  7. Gulfmarker
  8. Madangmarker
  9. Manusmarker
  10. Milne Baymarker
  1. Morobemarker
  2. New Irelandmarker
  3. Northern (Oro Provincemarker)
  4. Bougainville marker
  5. Southern Highlandsmarker
  6. Western Provincemarker (Fly)
  7. Western Highlandsmarker
  8. West New Britainmarker
  9. West Sepikmarker (Sandaun)
  10. National Capital District
Parliament has approved the creation of two additional provinces by 2012: Hela Province, which will consist of part of the current Southern Highlands Provincemarker, and Jiwaka Province, which will be formed by dividing Western Highlands Provincemarker.

Geography

Map of Papua New Guinea


At , Papua New Guinea is the world's fifty-fourth largest country.

Papua New Guinea is mostly mountainous (its highest peak is Mount Wilhelmmarker at 4,509 m; 14,793 ft) and mostly covered with tropical rainforest, as well as very large wetland areas surrounding the Sepik and Flymarker rivers.Papua New Guinea is surrounded by coral reefs which are under close watch to preserve them.

The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point of collision of several tectonic plates. There are a number of active volcanoes, and eruptions are frequent. Earthquakes are relatively common, sometimes accompanied by tsunamis.

The mainland of the country is the eastern half of New Guineamarker island, where the largest towns are also located, including the capital Port Moresbymarker and Laemarker; other major islands within Papua New Guinea include New Irelandmarker, New Britainmarker, Manusmarker and Bougainvillemarker.

Papua New Guinea is one of the few regions close to the equator that experience snowfall, which occurs in the most elevated parts of the mainland.

Ecology

Papua New Guinea is part of the Australasia ecozone, which also includes Australia, New Zealandmarker, eastern Indonesiamarker, and several Pacific island groups, including the Solomon Islandsmarker and Vanuatumarker.

Geologically, the island of New Guinea is a northern extension of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, forming part of a single landmass Australia-New Guinea (also called Sahul or Meganesia). It is connected to the Australian segment by a shallow continental shelf across the Torres Straitmarker, which in former ages had lain exposed as a land bridge — particularly during ice ages when sea levels were lower than at present.
Consequently, many species of birds and mammals found on New Guinea have close genetic links with corresponding species found in Australia. One notable feature in common for the two landmasses is the existence of several species of marsupial mammals, including some kangaroos and possums, which are not found elsewhere.Many of the other islands within PNG territory, including New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, the Admiralty Islandsmarker, the Trobriand Islandsmarker, and the Louisiade Archipelagomarker, were never linked to New Guinea by land bridges, and they lack many of the land mammals and flightless birds that are common to New Guinea and Australia.

Australia and New Guinea are portions of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which started to break into smaller continents in the Cretaceous era, 65-130 million years ago. Australia finally broke free from Antarcticamarker about 45 million years ago. All the Australasian lands are home to the Antarctic flora, descended from the flora of southern Gondwana, including the coniferous podocarps and Araucaria pines, and the broadleafed southern beech (Nothofagus). These plant families are still present in Papua New Guinea.

As the Indo-Australian Plate (which includes landmasses of India, Australia, and the Indian Oceanmarker floor in between) drifts north, it collides with the Eurasian Plate, and the collision of the two plates pushed up the Himalayasmarker, the Indonesian islands, and New Guinea's Central Range. The Central Range is much younger and higher than the mountains of Australia, so high that it is home to rare equatorial glaciers. New Guinea is part of the humid tropics, and many Indomalayan rainforest plants spread across the narrow straits from Asia, mixing together with the old Australian and Antarctic floras.

Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea.


PNG includes a number of terrestrial ecoregions:

Economy

Port Moresby


Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain, the high cost of developing infrastructure, serious law and order problems, and the system of land title which makes identifying the owners of land for the purpose of negotiating appropriate agreements problematic. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the population. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for 72% of export earnings. The country also has a notable coffee industry. Former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta tried to restore integrity to state institutions, stabilize the kina, restore stability to the national budget, privatize public enterprises where appropriate, and ensure ongoing peace on Bougainville following the 1997 agreement which ended Bougainville's secessionist unrest. The Morauta government had considerable success in attracting international support, specifically gaining the backing of the IMFmarker and the World Bank in securing development assistance loans. Significant challenges face the current Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, including gaining further investor confidence, continuing efforts to privatize government assets, and maintaining the support of members of Parliament.

In March 2006 the United Nations Committee for Development Policy called for Papua New Guinea's designation of developing country to be downgraded to least-developed country because of protracted economic and social stagnation. However, an evaluation by the International Monetary Fundmarker in late 2008 found that "a combination of prudent fiscal and monetary policies, and high global prices for mineral commodity exports, have underpinned Papua New Guinea's recent buoyant economic growth and macroeconomic stability. Real GDP growth, at over 6% in 2007, was broad-based and is expected to continue to be strong in 2008."

Land tenure

Only some 3% of the land of Papua New Guinea is in private hands; it is privately held under 99 year State Lease, or it is held by the State. There is virtually no freehold title; the few existing freeholds are automatically converted to State Lease when they are transferred between vendor and purchaser. Unalienated land is owned under customary title by traditional landowners. The precise nature of the seisin varies from one culture to another. Many writers portray land as in the communal ownership of traditional clans; however, closer studies usually show that the smallest portions of land whose ownership cannot be further divided are held by the individual heads of extended families and their descendants, or their descendants alone if they have recently died. This is a matter of vital importance because a problem of economic development is identifying the membership of customary landowning groups and the owners. Disputes between mining and forestry companies and landowner groups often devolve on the issue of whether the companies entered into contractual relations for the use of land with the true owners. Customary property — usually land — cannot be devised by will; it can only be inherited according to the custom of the deceased's people.

Demographics



Papua New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous nations in the world. There are hundreds of ethnic groups indigenous to Papua New Guinea, the majority being from the group known as Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago. Many remote Papuan tribes still have only marginal contact with the outside world. The others are Austronesians, their ancestors having arrived in the region less than four thousand years ago. There are also numerous people from other parts of the world now resident, including Chinese, Europeans, Australians, Filipinos, Polynesians and Micronesians. At the brink of Papuan independence in 1975, there were 40,000 expatriates (mostly Australian and Chinese) in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea has more languages than any other country, with over 820 indigenous languages, representing twelve percent of the world's total. Indigenous languages are classified into two large groups: Austronesian languages and non-Austronesian (or Papuan languages). There are three official languages for Papua New Guinea. English is an official language and is the language of government and the education system, but it is not widely spoken. The primary lingua franca of the country is Tok Pisin (commonly known in English as New Guinea Pidgin or Melanesian Pidgin), in which much of the debate in Parliament is conducted, many information campaigns and advertisements are presented, and until recently a national newspaper, Wantok, was published. The only area where Tok Pisin is not prevalent is the southern region of Papua, where people often use the third official language, Hiri Motu. Although it lies in the Papua region, Port Moresby has a highly diverse population which primarily uses Tok Pisin, and to a lesser extent English, with Motu spoken as the indigenous language in outlying villages. With an average of only 7,000 speakers per language, Papua New Guinea has a greater density of languages than any other nation on earth except Vanuatumarker.

Health

Public expenditure was at 3 % of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 0.6 % of the GDP.PNG has the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS in the Pacific region and is the fourth country in the Asia Pacific region to fit the criteria for a generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic. Lack of HIV/AIDS awareness is a major problem, especially in rural areas. There were 5 physicians per 100,000 people in the early 2000s.

Religion

The courts and government practice uphold the constitutional right to freedom of speech, thought, and belief, and no legislation to curb those rights has been adopted, though Sir Arnold Amet, previous Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea and an outspoken proponent of Pentecostal Christianity, frequently urged legislative and other curbs on the activities of Muslims in the country.

The 2000 census showed 96% of citizens were members of a Christian church; however, many citizens combine their Christian faith with some pre-Christian traditional indigenous practices. The census percentages were as follows:

Minority religions include the Bahá'í Faith (15,000 or 0.3%), while Islam in Papua New Guinea accounts for approximately 1,000 to 2,000 or about 0.04%, (largely foreign residents of African and Southeast Asian origin but with some Papua New Guinean converts in the towns). Non-traditional Christian churches and non-Christian religious groups are active throughout the country. The Papua New Guinea Council of Churches has stated that both Muslim and Confucian missionaries are active, and foreign missionary activity in general is high.

Traditional religions, such as that of the Korowai, were often animist. Some also tended to have elements of ancestor worship, though generalisation is suspect given the extreme heterogeneity of Melanesian societies. Prevalent among traditional tribes is the belief in masalai, or evil spirits, which are blamed for "poisoning" people, causing calamity and death, and the practice of Puri Puri in the highlands.

Culture

Resident of Bago-bago, an island in the southeast of Papua New Guinea


It is estimated that more than a thousand different cultural groups exist in Papua New Guinea. Because of this diversity, many different styles of cultural expression have emerged; each group has created its own expressive forms in art, dance, weaponry, costumes, singing, music, architecture and much more.Most of these different cultural groups have their own language. People typically live in villages that rely on subsistence farming. In some areas people hunt and collect wild plants (such as yam roots) to supplement their diets. Those who become skilled at hunting, farming and fishing earn a great deal of respect.

On the Sepik river, there is a tradition of wood carving, often in the form of plants or animals, representing ancestor spirits.

Sea shells are no longer the currency of Papua New Guinea, as they were in some regions — sea shells were abolished as currency in 1933. However, this heritage is still present in local customs; in some cultures, to get a bride, a groom must bring a certain number of golden-edged clam shells as a bride price. In other regions, bride price is paid in lengths of shell money, pigs, cassowaries or cash; elsewhere, bride price is unknown, and it is brides who must pay dowry.

People of the highlands engage in colourful local rituals that are called "sing sings". They paint themselves and dress up with feathers, pearls and animal skins to represent birds, trees or mountain spirits. Sometimes an important event, such as a legendary battle, is enacted at such a musical festival.

Education

Papua New Guinea has six universities apart from other major tertiary institutions. The two founding universities are the University of Papua New Guinea based in the National Capital District, and the Papua New Guinea University of Technology based outside of Laemarker, in Morobemarker Province.

The four other universities which were once colleges, were established recently after gaining government recognition. These are the University of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands province, Divine Word University (run by the Catholic Church) in Madang province, Vudal Agriculture University in East New Britain province and Pacific Adventist University (run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church) in the National Capital District.

Sport

Sport is an important part of Papua New Guinean culture and rugby league is by far the most popular sport. In a nation where communities are far apart and many people live at a minimal subsistence level, rugby league has been described as a replacement for tribal warfare as a way of explaining the local enthusiasm for the game (a matter of life and death). Many Papua New Guineans have become instant celebrities by representing their country or playing in an overseas professional league. Even Australian rugby league players who have played in the annual (Australian) State of Origin clash, which is celebrated feverishly every year in PNG, are among the most well known people throughout the nation. State of Origin is a highlight of the year for most Papua New Guineans, although the support is so passionate that many people have died over the years in violent clashes supporting their team. The Papua New Guinea national rugby league team usually plays against the Australian national rugby league team each year in Port Moresby. The limited capacity of the stadium for this fixture often sparks riots; spectators clashed with riot police during the game in 2006. Over 50% of the male population under age 20 play rugby league.

Other major sports which have a part in the Papua New Guinea sporting landscape are football, rugby union, Aussie rules and, in eastern Papua, cricket.

Transport

Transport in Papua New Guinea is heavily limited by the country's mountainous terrain. Port Moresbymarker is not linked by road to any of the other major towns, and many remote villages can only be reached by light aircraft or on foot. As a result, air travel is the single most important form of transport. Papua New Guinea has 578 airstrips, most of which are unpaved.

See also



Notes

  1. See footnote 30 which explains that the precise reference in legislation was not found.
  2. Human Development Indices, Table 3: Human and income poverty, p. 35. Retrieved on 1 June 2009
  3. Swaddling (1996) p. 282
  4. Swaddling (1996) "Such trade links and the nominal claim of the Sultan of Ceram over New Guinea constituted the legal basis for the Netherlands' claim over West New Guinea and ultimately that of Indonesia over what is new West Papua"
  5. " Remembering the war in New Guinea". Australian War Memorial.
  6. For example, the Creditors Remedies Act (Papua), Ch 47 of the Revised Laws of Papua New Guinea.
  7. " Looters shot dead amid chaos of Papua New Guinea's anti-Chinese riots". The Australian. May 23, 2009.
  8. " Overseas and under siege". The Economist. August 11, 2009.
  9. The Constitution of Papua New Guinea sets out the names of the 19 provinces at the time of Independence. Several provinces have changed their names; such changes are not strictly speaking official without a formal constitutional amendment, though "Oro," for example, is universally used in reference to that province.
  10. Post-Courier, "Jiwaka, Hela set to go!" July 15, 2009
  11. http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2008/pr08107.htm "Statement of an IMF Mission at the Conclusion of the Staff Visit to Papua New Guinea"
  12. " Chinese targeted in PNG riots - report". News.com.au. May 15, 2009.
  13. " Papua New Guinea". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  14. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_PNG.html
  15. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_PNG.html
  16. University of Papua New Guinea
  17. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/three-dead-in-png-after-state-of-origin-violence-20090626-cywd.html


References



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