Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Official Name: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Land area: 461,690 sq. km.; about the size of California.
Cities: Capital--Port Moresby (pop. 195,570). Other cities--Lae (88,172), Mt. Hagen (70,850).
Terrain: Mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills.
Population: 4.3 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%.
Languages: English (official), Tok Pisin, Motu, and about 850 other languages.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Literacy--52%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--61/1,000. Life expectancy--men 56 yrs.; women 58 yrs.
Type: Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: September 16, 1975.
Branches: Executive--British monarch (chief of state), represented by governor general; prime minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral parliament. Judicial--independent; highest is Supreme Court.
19 provinces and the national capital district (Port Moresby).
Major political parties: People's Progress Party (PPP); Pangu Parti; People's Democratic Movement (PDM); People's Unity Party (PUP); League of National Advancement (LNA); People's National Congress (PNC); and Melanesian Alliance (MA).
Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.
GDP (1994): $9.2 billion.
Growth rate: 6.1%.
Per capita GDP: $2,200.
Natural resources: Gold, copper ore, oil, natural gas, timber, fish.
Agriculture (25% of GDP): Major products--coffee, cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels. < BR>Industry (32% of GDP): Major sectors--copra crushing, palm oil processing, plywood production, wood chip production, mining of gold, silver and copper, construction, tourism.
Trade (1993): Exports--$2.4 billion: gold, copper ore, oil, timber, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, lobster. Major markets--Australia, Japan, U.S., Singapore, New Zealand. Imports--$1.2 billion: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers--Australia, Japan, U.K., New Zealand, Netherlands.
U.S.-PAPUA NEW GUINEA RELATIONS
The United States and Papua New Guinea established diplomatic relations upon the latter's independence on September 16, 1975. The two nations belong to a variety of regional organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF); the South Pacific Commission; and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP).
One of the most successful cooperative multilateral efforts linking the U.S. and Papua New Guinea is the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, under which the U.S. grants $14 million per year to Pacific island parties and the latter provide access to U.S. fishing vessels.
The U.S. supports Papua New Guinea's efforts to protect biodiversity. The U.S. Agency for International Development is sponsoring a rapid assessment project to identify endangered species in Papua New Guinea, as well as a conservation project in Gulf Province. The U.S. Government supports the International Coral Reef Initiative aimed at protecting reefs in tropical nations such as Papua New Guinea.
The United States Information Service (USIS) sponsors a wide variety of activities in Papua New Guinea, including the International Visitor Program, Fulbright and Humphrey exchanges, and the South Pacific Scholarship Program. USIS helped found the Papua New Guinea-U.S. Association, an independent entity that promotes bilateral ties.
U.S. military forces, through the Pacific Theater Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, carry out annual bilateral meetings as well as small-scale exercises with the Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF). The U.S. also provides military education and training courses to security force officials.
The U.S. Peace Corps brought its first group of volunteers to Papua New Guinea in September 1981. Currently about 55 volunteers serve throughout the country. Volunteer work is concentrated in rural community development and education.
About 4,500 U.S. citizens live in Papua New Guinea, with major concentrations at two missionary headquarters in Eastern Highlands Province.
Trade and Investment
Papua New Guinea is the largest Pacific island nation in both population and land area. Its natural resources, including gold, copper, hydrocarbons, timber and fisheries, and tree crops (coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm oil), provide the country's main exports. There is little domestic industry.
Although its per capita GDP of $2,200 ranks Papua New Guinea as a middle-income developing nation, 85% of its population engages in subsistence and smallholder agriculture. The government employs about 30% of the roughly 250,000 workers participating in the formal economy. Mining and petroleum exports represented 67% of total exports and an estimated 23% of GDP in 1994.
Australia, Japan, the United States, Singapore, and New Zealand are the principal exporters to Papua New Guinea. Equipment and supplies for the mining and petroleum sectors and aircraft and aircraft parts accounted for most U.S. exports in the early 1990s.
Australia was Papua New Guinea's most important export market throughout the early 1990s, followed by Japan, South Korea and Germany. The U.S. purchased at most 4% of Papua New Guinea's annual exports during this period. Crude oil is by far the largest U.S. import from Papua New Guinea, followed by cocoa beans, coffee, shellfish, and tea.
U.S. companies are active in developing Papua New Guinea's mining and petroleum sectors. Chevron operates the Kutubu and Gobe oil projects. Exxon's Papua New Guinea subsidiary is exploring for natural gas reserves. Battle Mountain Gold owns an interest in the Lihir gold mine project in New Ireland Province. Two 30,000-40,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery projects, each involving an American company, have been approved by the government, while a U.S. investor plans to construct a tuna cannery in Madang.
Papua New Guinea became a participating economy in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 1993. Its bid for access to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was approved in April 1995. The accession must still be formally approved by WTO members and ratified by Papua New Guinea.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Richard W. Teare
Deputy Chief of Mission--Edward J. Michal
Political Officer--Royal M. Wharton
Economic Officer--Beatrice P. Soila
Consular Officer--Patrick W. Walsh
The U.S. embassy in Papua New Guinea is located on Douglas Street, Port Moresby (tel.  321-1455; fax  321-3423). The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-4240.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Although what is now Papua New Guinea was first sighted by Portuguese explorers more than 300 years before, significant European colonization did not begin until the latter part of the 19th century, when Germany, Britain, and Holland all claimed parts of New Guinea and other nearby islands. The Dutch-controlled areas became part of Indonesia in 1961; the British and German areas earlier had been joined into what eventually became the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
Britain transferred control of its colonial administration to Australia in 1906. The latter then took over the German-controlled areas at the outset of World War I and administered them afterwards under a League of Nations mandate. In 1942, the Japanese occupied portions of both Papua and New Guinea, until driven out or forced to surrender by Allied forces. Gen. Douglas MacArthur made his headquarters in Port Moresby during the initial phases of this struggle. Australia continued to govern after World War II under a United Nations trusteeship agreement. In 1973, Papua New Guinea achieved internal self-government and then full independence on September 16, 1975.
Papua New Guinea, a constitutional monarchy, recognizes the Queen of England as head of state. She is represented by a governor-general who is elected by parliament and who performs mainly ceremonial functions. Papua New Guinea has three levels of government--national, provincial and local, but the national level is the most powerful. There is a 109-member unicameral parliament, whose members are elected every five years. The parliament in turn elects the prime minister, who appoints his cabinet from members of his party or coalition.
Members of parliament (MPs) are elected from 19 provinces and the national capital district of Port Moresby. Parliament introduced reforms in June 1995 to centralize the system, with regional (at-large) MP's becoming provincial governors, while retaining their national MP seats.
Papua New Guinea's judiciary is independent of the government. It protects constitutional rights and interprets the laws. There are several levels, culminating in the Supreme Court.
Papua New Guinea's politics are highly competitive. MPs are elected on a "first past the post" system, with winners frequently gaining less than 15% of the vote. There are seven major parties, but party allegiances are not strong. Winning candidates are usually courted in efforts to forge the majority needed to form a government. No single party has yet won enough seats to form a government in its own right.
There have been several changes of government during the five-year intervals between national elections. Since 1975, four political leaders have held the office of Prime Minister--Sir Michael Somare, Rabbie Namaliu, Sir Julius Chan, and Paias Wingti--and all remain active in politics. The current Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, won election in August 1994 in a parliamentary vote following a Supreme Court decision invalidating a parliamentary maneuver by then-Prime Minister Wingti.
Sir Julius' People's Progress Party is the dominant member of a coalition that includes the Pangu Parti and several smaller parties and independent MPs. The coalition government is unlikely to face a challenge until the June 1997 general election, given constitutional reforms that render governments less vulnerable to motions of "no confidence."
Principal Government Officials
Governor General--Wiwa Korowi
Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade--Sir Julius Chan
Ambassador to the United States--Nagora Bogan
Papua New Guinea maintains an embassy at 1615 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-745-3680; fax 202-745-3679).
The Papua New Guinea mission to the United Nations is at 801 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-682-6447).
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
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