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Papua New Guinea: forests, islands and tribal traditions

Papua New Guinea (Papua Niugini) is a parliamentary monarchy associated with the British Commonwealth. This nation is located south of the equator, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country is located east of Indonesia and north of Australia from which it is separated from the Torres Strait. While it is bathed in the north by the Bismarck Sea, in the east by the Solomon Sea, in the south by the Coral Sea, and therefore borders in the west with the Indonesian province of Papua (Irian Jaya).

The state, which has the city of Port Moresby as its capital, is made up of the eastern section of the large island of New Guinea, the archipelago of Bismarck, the archipelago of Louisiade, the Trobriand islands, the islands of Entrecasteaux, and the part northern Solomon islands (including the Bougainville and Buka islands).

THE GEOGRAPHY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The territory from Papua New Guinea is formed along the south-west coast, by vast alluvial plains, often quite marshy, where the Fly and Purari rivers flow. While the northern region is crossed by the Sepik, Markham and Ramu rivers which in turn form extensive plains.

The rest of the territory is largely mountainous. The interior is crossed, from north-west to south-east, by an important mountain range divided into Central Range (New Guinea Highlands), Bismarck Range and Owen Stanley Range. These mountains have rugged peaks that sometimes exceed 4,000 meters in height. The country’s highest peak is Mount Wilhelm (4,509 meters) in the Bismarck Range. The Owen Stanley Range rises at the southeastern end of the island and is over 4,000 meters high with Mount Victoria (4,072 meters).

Another mountain range is located close to almost the entire north coast. It is formed to the west by the Bewani Mountains, the Torricelli Mountains and the Prince Alexander Mountains which do not exceed 2,000 meters in height.

To the east, always along the coast, we find the Finisterre Range and the Saruwaged Range. These chains exceed, at the Huon peninsula, 4,000 meters high, Mount Bangeta in the Saruwaged Range is the highest peak (4,121 meters). The country’s population is mostly concentrated in villages on the coast or along waterways.

NUMEROUS ISLAND ARCHIPELAGOS

THE BISMARCK ISLANDS

Among the numerous archipelagos of islands that are part of Papua New Guinea, the most important is undoubtedly the archipelago of the Bismarck Islands. Over 200 volcanic islands and atolls that extend north-east of New Guinea and are made up of the islands New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover (or Lavongai) and the Admiralty group (Admiralty Islands) are part of this vast archipelago.

The main island is the large island of New Britain (36,519 sq km), of volcanic origin. This island has several still active volcanoes such as Ulawun, which is the highest mountain on the island (2,334 meters). Among the other volcanoes on the island we find the Langila (1,330 meters), the group of volcanoes of the Garbuna (Krummel, Garbuna, and Welcker), the Sulu Range (Malopu), and the Tavurvur and Vulcan volcanoes in the Rabaul caldera. Rabaul-Kokopo is the main inhabited center and the capital of the island.

The island of New Ireland (8,650 sq km), is a volcanic island over 300 km long and narrow (10 km) located north of New Britain. The capital is the center of Kavieng. The island is above all wild and mountainous with mountains exceeding 2,000 meters (Mount Lambel 2,150 meters). A few kilometers west of New Ireland is the island of New Hanover (Lavongai, 1,190 sq km). Continuing to the west we find the group of islands of the Admiralty (Admiralty Islands), always part of the archipelago of the Bismarck Islands. Here we find the island of Manus (2,100 sq km), which is densely covered by the tropical forest and has its highest peak in Mount Dremsel (718 meters).

THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

To the east of the archipelago of the Bismarck Islands begins the archipelago of the Solomon Islands, of which the two westernmost islands, Bouganville and Buka, are part of the state of Papua New Guinea. The island of Bouganville (10,049 sq km) is the largest island of the Solomon Islands archipelago to which it belongs geographically. This island, of volcanic origin, is covered with dense forests and has high mountains that culminate with the Balbi volcano (2,715 meters).

The island of Buka (500 sq km) is a rather flat island located north-west of Bouganville. Mount Bei (458 meters) is its highest peak. To the east and north-east of the far eastern edge of the island of New Guinea are the other groups of islands belonging to Papua New Guinea: the Louisiade archipelago, the Trobriand islands, and the Entrecasteaux islands.

THE ECONOMY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Papua New Guinea has a territory primarily rich in minerals (copper, oil, gold, silver) and forest resources. Especially noteworthy is that over 90% of the country’s territory is covered by forests. For this reason, among the main productions in addition to timber is rubber. Agriculture is consequently rather limited, in fact cereals (rice, corn, sorghum), sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, bananas, coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, coconuts and tea are produced. Industrial activities are also limited to some factories operating in the food (sugar factories), wood and clothing sectors.

Official page of the Parliament of Papua New Guinea.

  • Area: 462,840 sqkm. (Arable 1%, Pastures 0%, Forests and Woodlands 91%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 8%)
  • Population: 8,600,000 (2019 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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