Papua New Guinea

Kerepunu villagers, British New Guinea, 1885

Papua New Guinea (PNG; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (the western portion of the island is a part of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua) and numerous offshore islands. It is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region described since the early 19th century as Melanesia. The capital is Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries on Earth. According to recent data, 841 different languages are listed for the country, although 11 of these have no known living speakers. There may be at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of about 6.2 million. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 percent of its people live 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.

Strong growth in the mining and resource sector has led to PNG becoming the seventh fastest-growing economy in the world as of 2011. Despite this, the majority of the population still live in traditional societies and practice subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation's constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution 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. Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than US$1.25 per day.

After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975. It remains a Commonwealth realm of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea
462,840 km²
5,921,000 hab.

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