Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea
462,840 sq km (178,704 sq miles).
4,160,000 (1996).
9.0 per sq km.
Port Moresby.
250,000 (1994).
Papua New Guinea consists of over 600 islands and lies in the middle of the long chain of islands stretching from mainland South-East Asia. It lies in the South Pacific, 160km (100 miles) north of Australia. The country occupies the eastern half of the second-largest non-continental island in the world, as well as the smaller islands of the Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville and Admiralty Island), the D'Entrecasteaux Island group and the three islands of the Louisiade Archipelago. The main island shares a land border with Irian Jaya, a province of Indonesia. The mainland and larger islands are mountainous and rugged, divided by large fertile upland valleys. Fast-flowing rivers from the highlands descend to the coastal plains. A line of active volcanoes stretches along the north coast of the mainland and continues on the island of New Britain. To the north and south of this central mountain range on the main island lie vast stretches of mangrove swamps and coastal river deltas. Volcanoes and thermal pools are also found in the southeast of other islands. Papua New Guinea also offers the greatest variety of terrestrial ecosystems in the South Pacific, including five types of lowland rainforest, 13 types of montane rainforest, five varieties of palm and swamp forest and three different mangrove forests. Two-thirds of the world's species of orchids come from Papua New Guinea. Birds include 38 species of the bird-of-paradise, and the megapode and cassowary. Marsupials and mammals include cuscus, tree kangaroos, wallabies, bandicoots, spiny anteaters and, in the coastal waters, the dugong. There are between 170 and 200 species of frog and 450 species of butterfly.
Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from Australia in 1975. Head of State: HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor General Sir Silas Atopare since 1997. Head of Government: Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta since 1999.
The official language is English, which is widely used in business and government circles. Pidgin English and Hiri Motu are more commonly used (742 other languages and dialects are also spoken).
90% Christian.
GMT + 10.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. Australian-style 3-pin plugs are in use. Some hotels provide 110-volt outlets in guest-rooms.


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