Papua New Guinea

Forest at dusk

Papua New Guinea is one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world.  It is little explored both culturally and geographically and many undiscovered plants and animals are thought to exist in the remote jungle.

PNG is the second largest island in the world; it is abundant with cultural diversity and it is recorded that there are over 800 languages spoken in the country. The language that is spoken most is Tok Pisin, a type of pigeon English.  The land mass is split into provinces but crudely the people are identified as highlands and coastal.  There is a rivalry between the two with the coastal inhabitants saying that the highlanders are violent and dangerous and vice versa that the coastal people can’t be trusted.  In the most part Papua New Guineans are Christian but people do have animist belief systems believing in spirits and witchcraft.  About 85% of people live subsistence agricultural lifestyles in rural villages.  Surplus food production is traded in informal cash economies and this makes up the bulk of financial activities.

The staple food in PNG is sago (saksak) and sweet potato (kaukau).  It is common for families to cook mumu for celebrations where meat (usually pig or chicken) is buried in the ground with hot stones and cooked for around five hours.  On the coast seafood is bountiful and in the highlands they grow Arabica coffee.

PNGs diverse animal life is due mainly because of its topography.  It has the third largest primary rainforest in the world.  It isn’t a land of big mammals and monkeys but bugs, insects, birds, and small animals.  PNG is famed for it’s bird of paradise, so much so it is emblazoned on the countries flag.