Papua New Guinea Travel Information

Photo The eastern half of the island of New Guinea - second largest in the world - was divided between Germany (north) and the UK (south) in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia in 1902, which occupied the northern portion during World War I and continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975. A nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville ended in 1997, after claiming some 20,000 lives.


The indigenous population of Papua New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Papua New Guinea has several thousand separate communities, most with only a few hundred people. Divided by language, customs, and tradition, some of these communities have engaged in tribal warfare with their neighbors for centuries.


Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, including minerals, timber, and fish, and produces a variety of commercial agricultural products. The economy generally can be separated into subsistence and market sectors, although the distinction is blurred by smallholder cash cropping of coffee, cocoa, and copra.


Archeological evidence indicates that humans arrived on New Guinea at least 60,000 years ago, probably by sea from Southeast Asia during an Ice Age period when the sea was lower and distances between islands shorter. Although the first arrivals were hunters and gatherers, early evidence shows that people managed the forest environment to provide food. There also are indications of gardening having been practiced at the same time that agriculture was developing in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Early garden crops--many of which are indigenous--included sugarcane, Pacific bananas, yams, and taros, while sago and pandanus were two commonly exploited native forest crops.


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).

Important: Travel to Papua New Guinea may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Papua New Guinea visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Capital city: Port Moresby
Area: 462,840 sq km
Population: 6,310,129
Ethnic groups: Melanesian, Papuan, Negrito, Micronesian, Polynesian
Languages: Tok Pisin
Religions: Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 69.4%
Government: constitutional parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
Chief of State: Queen ELIZABETH II
Head of Government: Prime Minister Peter Paire O'NEILL
GDP: 16.86 billion
GDP per captia: 2,500
Annual growth rate: 8.9%
Inflation: 8.4%
Agriculture: coffee, cocoa, copra, palm kernels, tea, sugar, rubber, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetables, vanilla
Major industries: copra crushing, palm oil processing, plywood production, wood chip production
Natural resources: gold, copper, silver, natural gas, timber, oil, fisheries
Location: Oceania, group of islands including the eastern half of the island of New Guinea between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia
Trade Partners - exports: Australia 31.5%, Japan 7%, China 6.2%
Trade Partners - imports: Australia 36.9%, Singapore 14.1%, Malaysia 9.1%, China 7%, Japan 5%, Indonesia 4.7%, US 4.7%