Country of the World Papua New Guinea

About the country Papua New Guinea, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Papua New Guinea covers the eastern half of the world's second-largest island, New Guinea, in the southwest Pacific, about 100 mi. north of the northern tip of Australia. It also includes several islands off its east coast, the largest of which are New Britain, New Ireland, and Bougainville. Rugged mountains, forming the backbone of New Guinea, rise above 14,000 ft. Annually drenched by more than 200 in. of tropical rain, the main island is dominated by rain forest, with mangrove swamps and some grassland in coastal areas.

Size: 183,540 sq. mi. (461,691 sq. km.).

Population: 2.9 million.

Who Rules: Premier Michael Somare and his Pangu party lead a coalition government in national Parliament designed by Australia's Foreign Service. The Public Service, also modeled after Australia's, is rather large for such an underdeveloped economy. Government spending accounts for nearly 40% of the country's monetary expenditures.

Who REALLY Rules: Traditional village and clan organization is the most important form of government in local areas, and even within the national Parliament there are several regional factions demanding increased autonomy. In fact, when Papuan New Guinea achieved independence, copper-rich Bougainville attempted to secede.

Australia, which granted independence to PNG on Sept. 15, 1975, retains substantial influence. Australian foreign aid provides 35-40% of the new nation's budget, and Australia guarantees PNG's defense. In addition, foreign raw materials investors, such as the multinational consortium that owns the Bougainville copper mine, supply about 20% of the budget revenue. Australian expatriates dominate the local economies.

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