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).
Source: United Nations: World Statistics Pocketbook 2011
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