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Papua New Guinea: forests, mountains, islands and tribal traditions

Papua New Guinea (Papua Niugini) is a parliamentary monarchy associated with the British Commonwealth, located south of the equator, in the south-west Pacific, east of Indonesia and north of Australia from which is separated by the Strait of Torres, it’s washed to the north from the Bismarck Sea, to the east from the Solomon Sea, to the south from the Coral Sea, and it’s bordered to the west by the Indonesian province of Papua (Irian Jaya).

The state, with its capital Port Moresby, is formed by the eastern section of the great island of New Guinea, and from Bismarck, Louisiade, Trobriand, and Entrecasteaux archipelagoes, and from the northern part of the Solomon Islands (including the islands of Bougainville and Buka).

Papua New Guinea territory is formed, along the south-west coast from vast floodplains, often swampy, where flowing Fly and Purari rivers, while the northern coastal region is flowed by rivers Sepik, Markham and Ramu forming also extended plains. The rest of the territory is largely mountainous, the interior is crossed from north-west to south-east, from a major mountain range divided into Central Range (New Guinea Highlands), Bismarck Range and Owen Stanley Range with harsh relief sometimes exceeding 4,000 meters high, the highest peak in the country is Mount Wilhelm (4,509 meters) in the Bismarck Range.

The Owen Stanley Range rises at the south-east of the island and exceeds 4,000 metres in height with Mount Victoria (4,072 metres). Another mountain range lies behind almost all the northern coast, it is made to the west by Bewani Mountains, Torricelli Mountains and Prince Alexander Mountains, all these ranges not exceeding 2,000 meters high, to the east, still along the coast, we find the Finisterre Range and the Saruwaged Range exceeding at the Huon Peninsula the 4,000 metres high, Mount Bangeta in Saruwaged Range is the highest peak (4,121 meters). The population of the country is for the majority concentrated in villages on the coast or along the rivers.

Among the numerous archipelagos of islands that are part of Papua New Guinea, the most important is the Bismarck Archipelago, of which are part more than 200 volcanic islands and atolls that stretch north-east of New Guinea and is formed from the islands of New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover (or Lavongai) and the Admirality Group. The largest island is the great island of volcanic origin of New Britain (36,519 sq km), there are several still active volcanoes like Ulawun, the highest mountain (2,334 metres), Langila (1,330 metres), the group of Garbuna volcanoes (Krummel, Garbuna, and Welcker), the Sulu Range (Malopu), and the volcanoes Tavurvur and Vulcan in the caldera of Rabaul. Rabaul-Kokopo is the main town and also the island’s capital.

The island of New Ireland (8,650 sq km) is a volcanic island more than 300 km long, and narrow (10 km) located north of New Britain, the main town is the center of Kavieng, the island is wild and mountainous, with mountains exceeding 2,000 metres (Mount Lambel 2,150 metres). A few kilometres west of New Ireland is the island of New Hanover (Lavongai, 1,190 sq km), continuing to the west is the group of Admiralty Islands, being part of the Bismarck archipelago, here the main island is Manus (2,100 sq km), densely covered by tropical forest it has its highest peak with the mountain Dremsel (718 metres).

To the east of the Bismarck archipelago beginning the archipelago of Solomon Islands, of which the two most western islands, Bouganville and Buka, are part of the state of Papua New Guinea. The island of Bouganville (10,049 square kilometres) is the largest island in the archipelago of the Solomon Islands where it belongs geographically, the island of volcanic origin, is covered by dense forests and has high mountains culminating with the volcano Balbi (2,715 metres). The island of Buka (500 sq km) is a pretty flat island which is located north-west of Bouganville, the Mount Bei (458 metres) is the highest peak. To the east and north-east of the eastern extreme tip of the island of New Guinea are the other groups of islands forming part of the Papua New Guinea: the Louisiade, Trobriand, and Entrecasteaux archipelagoes.

Papua New Guinea is rich in minerals (copper, oil, gold, silver) and forest resources, over 90% of the territory of the country is covered by forests (rubber). Agriculture produces cereals (rice, corn, sorghum), sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, bananas, coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, coconut and tea. The industrial activities are limited to a few establishment active in the food (sugar), clothing and wood industries.

  • Area: 462,840 sqkm. (Arable 1%, Pastures 0%, Forests and Woodlands 91%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 8%)
  • Population: 5,887,000 (2005 data).
  • State Capital: Port Moresby.
  • Languages: English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu are the official languages. In the country are spoken 715 local languages.
  • Religion: Christian 96% (Catholic 27%, Lutheran 19%, United 11%, Seventh-day Adventist 10%, Pentecostal 8%, Evangelical Alliance 5%, Anglican 3%), Indigenous Belives 4%.
  • Currency: Kina (PGK).
  • Time: UTC +10 hours.

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