Papua New Guinea
Geographical Location of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea forms the eastern part of the island of New Guinea and about 600 smaller islands in the surrounding marine area. New Guinea is the second largest island in the world and is divided between Indonesia in the west and Papua New Guinea in the east. New Guinea's landscape consists of dense tropical forests along the coast and in the lowlands, as well as a steep mountain range that runs across the island. The rainforest contains unique flora and fauna and is home to 5-10 percent of the world's biodiversity. Most of the smaller islands are made up of volcanic rock formations that rise steeply from the sea, and have a hilly coastline with very little forest. Between the volcanic islands are several underlying coral atolls that are at risk of disappearing completely if sea levels rise.
The diverse landscape means that Papua New Guinea has several climate types. Rainforest areas and small islands experience high rainfall and high temperatures, while high mountains experience large temperature fluctuations and snowfall at regular intervals. Papua New Guinea frequently experiences earthquakes, volcanic activity and tsunamis. The biggest environmental problems are due to extensive deforestation and clearing of tropical forests. This leads to soil leaching into streams and rivers, contaminating drinking water, and soil erosion. Tropical deforestation has also led to the destruction of critical animal habitats.
Brief History of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea was settled by people from the Asian mainland 50–60,000 years ago. Permanent settlements arose about 8,000 years ago in small communities in narrow mountain valleys. There was no unified state until the island was colonized by Europeans in the 16th century. In the 16th century, Portuguese sailors began trading with local tribes. Over the next centuries, all or parts of modern Papua New Guinea were ruled by the Dutch, English, Spanish and Germans. At the beginning of the First World War, Germany controlled the northeastern part of New Guinea, and Great Britain controlled the southeast. After the war, Australia was given responsibility for both the British and German parts of New Guinea, as well as the surrounding small islands, under a League of Nations (later UN) mandate.
Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975. During the 1980s, a separatist movement emerged on the island of Bougainville, wanting separation from Papua New Guinea. Between 1990 and 1997, there was a war between the Papuan authorities and the separatists, which resulted in the deaths of 15 to 20 thousand people. A peace agreement was signed in 2001, leading to Bougainville's temporary independence in 2005.
Society and Politics of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a constitutional monarchy. The country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and retains the British monarch as head of state. The country has a parliamentary form of government, like many other former British colonies. The prime minister heads the government and is elected by the national assembly. The country has long been characterized by political crises and unrest. Corruption among politicians and police is a growing problem and has led to increased disdain and distrust of politicians.
Papua New Guinea is one of the least developed countries in the world in terms of industry and modern infrastructure. The country is also struggling with very high crime rates. Many tribes and local communities live completely cut off from the outside world, with no access to education, health care or clean drinking water. On average, one in twenty children die before reaching two years of age. The corona pandemic has led to a further deterioration in the health situation, and the country also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world. The lack of antivenom means many people die from venomous snakes, spiders, jellyfish and mosquitoes that carry disease. Women are regularly discriminated against in working life and in politics. Human trafficking, abuse and forced prostitution are serious social problems and tend to disproportionately affect women and children.
Economy and Trade of Papua New Guinea
Papa New Guinea is very rich in natural resources. Large reserves of minerals, natural gas, oil, forests and fish-rich waters mean that the country has high export earnings. However, incomes are highly vulnerable to price fluctuations in the world market, and the country remains dependent on international aid. Thus, the economy was seriously affected when the corona pandemic occurred.
Despite its rich natural resources, the country struggles with widespread poverty. More than 40 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, and more than 35 percent live in absolute poverty. Only a small part of the population has paid work, and the vast majority is engaged in farming, hunting and fishing for their own needs. Besides poor infrastructure, the biggest obstacles to economic development and growth are corruption, social unrest, natural disasters and a lack of educated labor force.