At 462,840 km square, Papua New Guinea is the world’s 54th-largest country. Mount Wilhem is the largest peak in PNG and stands at 4,509m (14,793 ft). The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point of collision of several tectonic plates. The town of Rabaul is surrounded by 6 cone shaped active and semi active volcanoes. In 1994 Tavurvur and Vulcan volcanoes created pyroclastic eruptions resulting in complete devastation of the town.
Papua New Guinea is part of the Australasia ecozone, which also includes Australia, New Zealnd, eastern Indonesia, and several Pacific island groups, including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Geologically, the island of New Guinea is a northern extension of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, forming part of a single landmass Australia-New Guinea also known as Sahul or Meganesia.
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for 72% of export earnongs. Tourism is still a relatively small player but is gradually being recognised as being a growth export opportunity.
There are hundreds of ethnic groups indigenous to Papua New Guinea, the majority being from the group known as Papuans, whose ancestors arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago. The others are Austronesians, their ancestors having arrived in the region less than four thousand years ago. There are also Chinese, Europeans, Australians, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Indians.
The three official languages for Papua New Guinea, in addition to over 850 indigenous languages are: –
Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) a Creole language developed in the Northern part of New Guinea and New Guinea Islands regions.
Hiri Motu is the third official language used predominantly by locals in the central province and National Capital District.
It is estimated that more than a 1000 different cultural groups exist in PNG. Sea Shells (mis) are no longer the currency of Papua New Guinea, as they were in some regions – Mis were abolished as currency in 1933. This heritage is still present in local customs as a form of dowry payment, initiation offering etc. Sport has been an important part of PNG culture. The national sport, although not official, is considered to be Rugby League. Other sports that form the sporting cultural landscape are Australian Rules, Soccer, Rugby Union and Cricket.