PNG Fact Box
|Capital||Port Moresby (9°30’S 147°07’E)|
|Official languages||English, Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu|
|Governor General||Michael Ogio|
|Prime Minister||Sir Michael Somare|
|Time Zone||Australian Eastern (AEST)|
|Date of Independence||September 16, 1975|
Papua New Guinea is located in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. “Papua” derived from a Malay word describing the frizzy Melanesian hair, and “New Guinea” (Nueva Guinea) was the name coined by Spanish explorer Ynigo Ortiz de Retez, who in 1545 noted the resemblance of the people to those he had earlier seen along the Guinea coast of Africa. The northern half of the country came into German hands in 1884. During World War I, PNG was occupied by Australia, which had begun administering the southern part as Papua (from 1884, British New Guinea) in 1905. Post World War I, Australia was given the mandate to administer the former German New Guinea from the League of Nations under the terms set by the Treaty of Versailles. PNG received its independence from Australia on September 16, 1975. In a population of just over 5 million, and is one of the most of culturally diverse speaking countries with over 850 languages (a third of the world’s indigenous languages and ten percent of world languages).