50 Fascinating Facts about Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a tiny nation located on the Indonesian island of New Guinea. If you mention it in most circles, you're likely to conjure up an image of something exotic and strange. Perhaps even frightening, if you're familiar with its dalliances with cannibalism and headhunting. However, this country is more than its caricatures. Continue reading to learn information about Papua New Guinea – a place that we found utterly interesting.

Fascinating Facts

1
Papua New Guinea has over 7 million people who belong to approximately 1000 ethnic groups. However, the country is home to at least 850 languages. It makes it the world's most linguistically varied country!
2
When colonial administrations dominated Papua New Guinea, speakers of all of the country's languages were compelled to labor together on plantations.
3
Papua New Guinea is the world's most linguistically diverse nation. According to government figures, the nation is home to 851 languages.
4
The most widely spoken language is Tok Pisin, an English-based creole with traces of German. Additionally, the country has an official sign language.
5
Archaeological evidence indicates that people arrived in Papua New Guinea some 60,000 years ago by island-hopping across the Indonesian archipelago from Asia.
6
Papua New Guinea was formerly a member of the Sahul supercontinent. It was formed of modern-day Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea until it separated them some 10,000 years ago by increasing sea levels.
7
Large swaths of the land area are covered in the impenetrable forest, home to tribes who have remained undisturbed by modern life.
8
Despite occupying less than 1% of the world's land area, the country is home to more than 5% of the world's biodiversity. The vegetation and fauna of this region come from two sources: southern Gondwana and western Asia.
9
After the Amazon and the Congo, the island of New Guinea is home to the world's third-biggest rainforest.
10
The Huon's tree kangaroo, mountain cuscus, and New Guinea harpy-eagle are unique to the region. Perhaps the primary cause for Papua New Guinea's wildlife diversity? It is situated at the juncture of the Gondwana and Asian biospheres.
11
Most people are unaware of how biodiverse Papua New Guinea is — it is one of the world's best scuba diving destinations due to the magnificent underwater wildlife.
12
Despite occupying less than 1% of the Earth's total surface area, Papua New Guinea is home to 20,000 plant species, 800 coral species, and over 650 fish species.
13
Papuans were almost certainly the world's first farmers. Archaeologists have unearthed traces of gardening dating back to 9000 BC.
14
In 1526, Jorge de Meneses, a Portuguese navigator, became the first European to reach Papua New Guinea. He dubbed one of the islands 'ilhas dos Papuas,' which translates as 'land of the fuzzy-haired people.'
15
Papua New Guinea is arguably the world's worst country for violence against women.
16
A 2013 research published in The Lancet found that 27% of males residing on one island in the country admitted to raping a woman who was not a spouse. According to UNICEF, approximately half of all rape victims in the nation are under 15.
17
It remains one of the planet's last remaining frontiers. Many believe that deep within its forests, uncontacted tribes are still waiting to be discovered by contemporary Papuan civilization.
18
For zoologists, Papua New Guinea's unknown forest zones are equally fascinating. They are particularly likely to harbor previously undiscovered animal species.
19
Papua New Guinea is home to the country's indigenous hooded pitohui bird. However, the hooded pitohui bird is not your typical bird; it is one of the planet's few toxic species.
20
Port Moresby was founded as the capital of Papua New Guinea in 1873. It has a population of about 360,000 and is the largest metropolis in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand.
21
In 1873, British explorer Captain John Moresby studied New Guinea's southeast region and established the capital city of Port Moresby, which he named after his father.
22
Papua New Guinea was colonized by Britain, Germany, Australia, and Japan until 1975 when the nation attained complete freedom.
23
Several cultures in Papua New Guinea continue to be heavily influenced by superstitions. In many sections of the country, the practice of "black magic" is still common. Numerous women in the nation are accused of witchcraft and executed. Each year, around 50 to 150 women are assassinated in this nation as accused witches.
24
Numerous species of these birds of paradise engage in intricate courtship rituals that include dances.
25
'Guinea' derives from the Portuguese guine, which means 'country of the blacks.' Inigo Ortiz de Retz dubbed the island New Guinea because it resembled Africa's Guinea coast.
26
Over the last 4000 years, many of the island's present population – now referred to as Austronesians – have migrated from other areas of the world. However, the vast bulk of them came 50,000 years ago, with the first wave of African immigration.
27
During World War II, Port Moresby developed into the region's commercial powerhouse.
28
There are hundreds of ethnic groupings in Papua New Guinea. Many of the indigenous people trace their genealogy back thousands of years.
29
Papua New Guinea's flag is a diagonally divided red-black design with a golden bird of paradise and the Southern Cross constellation.
30
Each tribe has distinct qualities that date back thousands of years. It's an enthralling nation with a varied range of cultural customs.
31
Papua New Guinea's climate is tropical. The average yearly temperature in PNG is between 30 and 32 degrees Celsius throughout the day.
32
Even in the mountains, daytime temperatures top 22 degrees Celsius. Throughout the year, portions of the island receive significant rainfall, often reaching 300 inches per year.
33
Around 80% of Papua New Guinea's population lives in rural settings with little or no modern conveniences.
34
Papua New Guinea and New Guinea share the world's second-biggest island. New Guinea is approximately equally divided between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to the east and west.
35
Several of the most recent occurrences of cannibalism in the globe have been documented in Papua New Guinea.
36
Papua New Guinea's principal natural resources are copper and gold. Tembagapura has one of the highest concentrations of gold in the world.
37
Papua New Guinea is located at the intersection of three major tectonic plates.
38
It is located on the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, Papua New Guinea is frequently struck by tsunamis, earthquakes, and even volcanic eruptions.
39
Papua New Guinea's GDP is around USD 25 billion. Although the economy has grown significantly, a sizable portion of the people continues to live in poverty.
40
According to Human Rights Watch, over 40% of the population lives in poverty, despite the country's incredible natural resource wealth. If you visit Papua New Guinea, you will immediately notice this poverty.
41
During the 1960s, a recently deceased person, was cooked and devoured in several settlements of the Fore tribe. It was seen as a gesture of love and grief.
42
As recently as 2012, 29 persons in Papua New Guinea were accused of suspected cannibalism.
43
Although some Papuan tribes regard the national bird as holy, it is threatened by illegal taxidermy, trade, and poaching.
44
Papua New Guinea is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
45
Having a western passport acclimates you to entrance stamps without visas before a trip. However, this is not the case in PNG.
46
Papua New Guinea has been home to the tree kangaroo since 1990. Locals discovered this golden-mantled tree kangaroo in the Torricelli Mountains.
47
In the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea, young males slash their skin to mimic crocodiles as part of an initiation process known as scarification.
48
In the 1930s, Australian gold prospectors made headlines when they 'found' almost a million people living in the remote regions of the New Guinea Highlands.
49
Papua New Guinea is home to one of the world's only known toxic birds, the hooded pitohui. Its feathers contain one of the most potent poisons ever discovered by science.
50
Historically, seashells functioned as the country's currency. This kind of money was phased out in 1933 in favor of the kina. However, seashells as a medium of exchange are still common in various indigenous tribes throughout the country.

Sources