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 kilometres): 462,840
  • Population: 7,170,000 (World Bank)
  • Population density in (per square kilometre): 14.2 (2008)
  • GDP: Gross domestic product (million current US$) 8007
  • GDP per capita (current US$): 1217.5
  • GNI: Gross national income per capita (current US$) 988.7
  • Tourist arrivals at national borders: 114,000 (2008)
  • Telephone subscribers: 10% (2008)
  • Internet users: 1.8% (2008)
  • Major trading partners (% of imports) in 2004: Australia (58.7), United States (7.6), Singapore (7.2)
  • Population growth rate 2005-2010: 2.4%
  • Urban population in 2007: 12.5%
  • Population aged 0-14 years in 2009: 39.8%
  • Population aged 60+ years in 2009: 4.3% women/4.0% men
  • Life expectancy at birth: 63.2 yrs women/58.8 yrs men
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 2005-2010 50.8
  • Contraceptive prevalence (ages 15-49) 2006-2009: 25.9%
  • Refugees and others of concern to UNHCR end-2008 10,013
  • Seats held by women in national parliaments in 2009: 0.9%
  • Threatened species in 2009: 448
  • Forested area in 2007: 64.4% of land area
  • CO2 emission estimates (000 metric tons and metric tons per capita) 2006 4617/0.7
  • Energy consumption p/capita (kg oil equivalent) 2007 175.0
  • Rainfall, total mean: 899 millimetres
  • 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

Matt Kelly boarding a plane to Kiunga Western Provinc
ADI Dr Yen Lim heading out to Patrol in New Ireland PNG
Dr Penny Uther, New Ireland, April 2018
ADI Dr Susanne Leenders and baby in Namatanai PNG
ADI volunteer doctor, Dr Rose Haywood training in PNG
Dr Roeland Krann In-Service training New Ireland
Dr De Boer and Dr Oosterhuis-at-Namatani PNG