macrohistory & world report

Papua New Guinea

Map of Papua New Guinea and surrounding states in the Pacific south of the equator

Papua New Guinea, its capital Port Moresby, and neighboring states: Indonesia, Australia and the Solomon Islands

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Papua New Guinea (PNG) is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain, land tenure issues, and the high cost of developing infrastructure. The economy has a small formal sector, focused mainly on the export of those natural resources, and an informal sector, employing the majority of the population. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the people. Mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and oil, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings. Natural gas reserves amount to an estimated 155 billion cubic meters. A consortium led by a major American oil company is constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility that could begin exporting in 2014. As the largest investment project in the country's history, it has the potential to double GDP in the near-term and triple Papua New Guinea's export revenue. An American-owned firm also opened PNG's first oil refinery in 2004 and is building a second LNG production facility. The government faces the challenge of ensuring transparency and accountability for revenues flowing from this and other large LNG projects. In 2011 and 2012, the National Parliament passed legislation that created an offshore Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to manage government surpluses from mineral, oil, and natural gas projects. In recent years, the government has opened up markets in telecommunications and air transport, making both more affordable to the people. Numerous challenges still face the government of Peter O'NEILL, including providing physical security for foreign investors, regaining investor confidence, restoring integrity to state institutions, promoting economic efficiency by privatizing moribund state institutions, and maintaining good relations with Australia, its former colonial ruler. Other socio-cultural challenges could upend the economy including chronic law and order and land tenure issues. The global financial crisis had little impact because of continued foreign demand for PNG's commodities."

Economic growth rate
2011: 9%
2010: 7%
2009: 5.5%

Labor force in agriculture:
2005: 85%

Unemployment rate
2008: 1.9%

Public debt
2011: 22.3%

Exports commodities
Oil, gold, copper ore, logs, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, crayfish, prawns
Exports - partners

Export partners
2009: Australia 27.9%, Japan 9.1%, China 7.1%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $7.566, imports $4.945

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 19th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 3.1% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 13%

Ethnic groups
Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian

2000 census: Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 69.4% (Evangelical Lutheran 19.5%, United Church 11.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10%, Pentecostal 8.6%, Evangelical Alliance 5.2%, Anglican 3.2%, Baptist 2.5%, other Protestant 8.9%), Baha'i 0.3%, indigenous beliefs and other 3.3%

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2000 census: males 63.4%, females 50.9%


Group of islands on the eastern half of New Guinea (The western half is a part of Indonesia) and North of Australia. Tropical. Slightly larger than California. Mostly mountains. Capital: Port Moresby.


A constitutional democracy. Independent since 1975 from a UN trusteeship administered by Australia.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.