Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea flagPapua New Guinea <<PAP yoo uh noo GIHN ee>> is a tropical country north of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. Papua New Guinea includes part of the island of New Guinea, plus a chain of islands that stretches across more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of the ocean. Papua New Guinea shares the island of New Guinea with Indonesia, which borders it on the west. Port Moresby, on the island of New Guinea, is the capital and the largest city.


he larger islands of Papua New Guinea have many high mountain ranges. Volcanoes rise on the northern coasts, and thick forests cover most of the rest of the islands. Swamps lie along the coasts.

The small islands are the tops of underwater mountains. Many of them have coral reefs. A coral reef is a place in the ocean where the remains of millions of tiny coral animals have piled up and hardened over a long time to form a long, underwater hill called a reef. All the islands have a hot, humid climate.


Papua New Guinea cityAlmost all the people in Papua New Guinea are Melanesians. Most of them live in small villages. They farm the land and grow most of their own food. About 40 percent of the people live in valleys away from the coast. These people did not meet people from Europe until the 1930′s.

About 850 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea. When people from different groups talk to each other, they use a language that most of them understand. One language is Pidgin English, or Tok Pisin. Another is Police Motu.

The vast majority of the children go to school until they are about 12 years old. Only a small percentage of children go on to high school.

Resources and products

Most of the people of Papua New Guinea are farmers. They grow cassava, sweet potatoes, taro, and yams for food. They also grow products to sell. Cocoa, coconuts, coffee, palm oil, rubber, and tea are the main cash crops. Copper and gold are mined in the country.


Papua New Guinea mapPeople lived in the islands at least 50,000 years ago. In the early 1500′s, Spanish and Portuguese explorers landed there. Later, the Dutch and English visited several islands. At different times since then, the country has been run by Germany, Britain, Australia, and Japan.

The islands became independent in 1975. Fighting broke out in 1988, and the island of Bougainville declared itself independent. The government and rebel leaders signed a peace treaty in 2001. Papua New Guinea promised to let Bougainvilleans vote about independence and allowed the people to elect their own government.

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