Ready to learn a few fun facts about Papua New Guinea?
Whether you’re thinking of traveling to Papua New Guinea in the coming months or just want to know more about this amazing country in Oceania, you’ve come to the right place!
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Papua New Guinea facts:
1. Papua New Guinea is a large island nation connected to Indonesia and just north of Australia. Papua New Guinea (or PNG, for short) shares the massive island known as New Guinea with Indonesia, which can be confusing, because Indonesia calls its western half of the island of New Guinea as Papua, which is simply an alternative name for the island of New Guinea.
2. Papua New Guinea is the third largest island country in the world. With a total land area of 178,700 mi2 (462,840 km2), it comes in just behind Madagascar (#2) and pretty far behind Indonesia (#1), the only country with which it shares a land border.
3. Papua New Guinea is considered to be a country in Oceania. Though it shares the mainland with Indonesia, which is considered to be Southeast Asia, it owns the entire eastern part and has a chain of islands extending further east, which is why the Oceania designation. Technically, Papua New Guinea rests in Melanesia, which is a subregion of Oceania that extends from the island of New Guinea to the Arafura Sea, south of Micronesia and west of Polynesia.
4. Papua New Guinea is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the coast of Australia! This was one of the strangest Papua New Guinea facts for me to learn, as I thought there was a much greater distance between Australia and other countries. However, Australia’s Talbot Islands, located in the Torres Strait which separates the two countries, include Australia’s northernmost settlement, on Boigu Island. Boigu Island is just 3.7 mi (6 km) from Papua New Guinea’s mainland, but the Talbot Islands’ Moimi Island is even closer, especially when measuring the distance between it and PNG’s Kassa Island.
5. Papua New Guinea is home to just one site on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The Kuk Early Agricultural Site, located in the western highlands of New Guinea, is a great archaeological record “demonstrating the [humans’] technological leap which transformed plant exploitation to agriculture around 6,500 years ago. It is an excellent example of transformation of agricultural practices over time, from cultivation mounds to draining the wetlands through the digging of ditches with wooden tools. Kuk is one of the few places in the world where archaeological evidence suggests independent agricultural development and changes in agricultural practice over such a long period of time.”
6. Papua New Guinea is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. As identified by Conservation International, a megadiverse country is one which holds a majority of the world’s plant and animal species. Papua New Guinea is very biologically diverse, with more than 5% of the world’s total biodiversity inside less than 1% of the world’s entire land area. Some of PNG’s diverse flora and fauna include 760 bird species (including the Hooded Pitohui, a poisonous bird!), 800 coral species, 600 fish species, 3,000 orchid species, and even 8 species of tree-kangaroos!
7. The capital of Papua New Guinea is Port Moresby. Port Moresby is also the largest city of PNG, with a population of around 370,000 (2020 estimate). Port Moresby is located on the southern portion of the eastern “tail” of the island of New Guinea, the Papuan Peninsula, also known as the Bird’s Tail Peninsula. Other major towns in PNG include Lae, Arawa, Mount Hagen, Popondetta, and Madang.
8. Papua New Guinea is one of the most rural countries in the world. According to the CIA World Factbook (2018), Papua New Guinea has an urban population of just 13.2%, which gives it the second lowest urban population percentage in the world behind Burundi’s 13%.
9. Papua New Guinea is one of the countries with the lowest population densities in the world. It might be the world’s third-largest island country, but its population of around 9 million (2020 estimate) makes it one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries.
10. But it’s super dense, linguistically speaking. With more than 820 indigenous languages, it has more languages natively spoken within its borders than any other country, making up a full 12% of all the world’s languages. However, many of these languages have few speakers, a lot of them under 1,000. The most commonly spoken languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Hiri Motu. Only Vanuatu has a greater density of languages spoken within a country.
Well, that’s all our Papua New Guinea facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Papua New Guinea we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!