PNG Country Profile


PNG Is Australia’s Nearest Neighbour

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is Australia’s nearest neighbour, separated by just five kilometres across the Torres Strait. Politically independent since 1975, PNG is one of the most diverse countries in the world – geographically, biologically, culturally and linguistically (over 800 Indigenous languages!). It lies just south of the equator and shares its western border with Indonesia.

PNG is home to over seven million people spread over the mainland and 600 islands comprising a total area of 463,000 square kilometres. Over 85% of people live in wild and rugged rural areas. Many communities are extremely isolated and not accessible by road.

Outside of the few major cities, people depend on subsistence-based farming for their livelihood. Overall, 60% of the population lack access to clean water and 55% lack access to sanitation. Only 10% of people have a telephone and less than 2% the internet.

PNG is rich in natural resources and much of the economy is founded on primary resource extraction, production and processing. However, this hasn’t yet led to economic prosperity for the majority of its people. New mining and petroleum projects have the potential for development and wealth, but have also caused social upheaval and environmental damage.

PNG’s relative level of poverty in relation to neighbouring countries is increasing and it now ranks 156th out of 177 countries on the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index.

ADI works in New Ireland Province (located off the mainland in the far north-east) and in Western Province (which is the largest province in PNG).

Facts & Figures

  • Region: Oceania-Melanesia
  • Currency: Kina (PGK)
  • Surface area (square kilometers): 462,840
  • Population: 8,776,000
  • Population density in (per square kilometer): 19.4 (2019)
  • GDP: Gross domestic product (million current US$) 22,006
  • GDP per capita (current US$): 2,667.0
  • GDP growth rate (annual % const. 2010 prices) (2017): -1.5
  • Tourist arrivals at national borders: 179,000 (2016)
  • Telephone subscribers: 10% (2008)
  • Internet users (per 100 inhabitants): 11.2 (2017)
  • Major trading partners (% of imports) in 2018: Australia (29.8), China (17.7), Singapore (10.4)
  • Population growth rate 2005-2019: 2.1%
  • Urban population in 2019: 13.2%
  • Population aged 0-14 years in 2019: 35.5%
  • Population aged 60+ years in 2019: 5.9%
  • Life expectancy at birth: 64.1 yrs women/61.4 yrs men
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) (2015) 48.3
  • Contraceptive prevalence (ages 15-49) 2006-2009: 25.9%
  • Refugees and others of concern to UNHCR (000) (2018) 9.9
  • Seats held by women in national parliaments in 2019: 0.0%
  • Threatened species in 2019: 527
  • Forested area in 2016: 74.1% of land area
  • CO2 emission estimates (million tons/tons per capita) 2014 6.3/0.8
  • Energy production, primary (Petajoules)(2016): 376
  • Rainfall, total mean: 899 millimeters
  • Temperature, mean: 23.3/31.3 °C

Source: United Nations: World Statistics Pocketbook 2011

Learn More About PNG

PNG Census 2011 preliminary figures here

PNG Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009-2010
-Statistical Summary download

DFAT country brief here

World Bank country profile here

World Health Organisation country profile here

Austrade market profile here

Lonely Planet travel guide here

ADI Doctor Stories