PNG Visitors’ Quick Facts
A 60-day Tourist Visa is available on arrival in Port Moresby at a fee of K100.00. To obtain a visa before you enter the country costs K75.00. You will need travel documents, sufficient funds for your stay in the country and airline ticket with confirmed outbound flights before expiry date of your Visa. As some restrictions apply to several Asian, Eastern European and African countries; please check with the nearest Papua New Guinea Mission or the nearest Australian mission, which is allocated in each country for visa requirements before travelling to the country.
Jackson's International Airport is the gateway of Papua New Guinea, situated about 8km away from the main town center of Port Moresby. Mt Hagen Provincial Airport has been declared International Port of entry because of the mining activities around the Highland provinces.
CUSTOMS & QUARANTINE
Adults over 18 have a general allowance of new goods to the value of K250 and are allowed duty free:
- 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco
- 2 litres of alcohol.
- A reasonable amount of perfume.
Drugs, pornographic literature or video tapes, firearms and weapons are prohibited. Food items, seeds, spices, live or dry plants, animals, animal products and biological specimens such as cultures and blood need special import approval.
For more information on Customs Procedures and Services visit the PNG Customs website www.customs.gov.pg
COSTS (The facts on PNG costs have been directly extracted from the Lonley Planet Website)
"You’d think PNG, being a developing country next to dirt-cheap Indonesia, would be an inexpensive place to travel. It’s not. The reason is that the cost of doing anything in PNG is unreasonably high. Loan interest rates have fallen from over 20% in recent years, but they remain high and repayment periods are short. Virtually everything is imported and there’s little competition despite the usual free-market forces.
For the traveller, this means sleeping, eating and getting around are all relatively expensive. But the biggest single factor is that fact that getting anywhere within PNG usually means flying and there the costs add up rapidly. Backpackers are doing well if they can get by on less than K178 (US$60) per day, staying in guesthouses, self-catering and eating in cheap restaurants and at kai bars (cheap, takeaway food bars). Budget any flights on top of that. If you’re staying in good hotels and resorts, eating in the better restaurants, with activities and flights, the sky is the limit, but figure on about K890 (US$300) per day. There are plenty of midrange options and couples or pairs pay less per person – most midrange solo travellers staying in the main towns can expect to spend about US$100 per day. However, your expenses plummet if you get off the beaten track. Wandering off to stay in the villages is not only a great way to see the country and witness the culture, it’s also inexpensive: food and lodging will cost you about K50 per night, often less. The steady devaluation of the kina has made travelling slightly cheaper in recent years. But tourism facilities tend to use imported goods." - Lonely Planet Website.
Papua New Guinea's unit of currency is the Kina which is divided into 100 toea. There are K100, K50, K20, K10, K5 and K2 notes and a K1 coin. Daily exchange rates are listed in banks, newspapers and hotels. You can exchange your money at Jackson's Airport or in banks, which are open from 9.00am to 3.00pm Monday - Thursdays and 9.00 - 4.00pm on Fridays.
Hotels, restaurants, shops, rental car companies, cruise operators and travel agents accept most major credit cards including Amex, Diners, Master cards and Visa Cards.
Value Added Tax (Vat)
All transactions within hotels, restaurants and bars are subject to 10% tax which is included in published prices.
Commercial Firms: Monday to Friday - 8.00am - 4:30 or 5.00pm. Saturday 8.00am - 12.00 noon.
Government Hours: Monday to Friday - 7.45am - 4.06pm.
Commercial Firms: Monday to Friday - 8.00am - 4:30 or 5.00pm. Saturday 8.00am - 12.00 noon.
Government Hours: Monday to Friday - 7.45am - 4.06pm.
VALUE ADDED TAX
All transactions with hotels, restaurants and bars are subject to 10% which is included in published prices.
There are two major airlines in PNG. Air Niugini have international flights which are very competitive and also runs most of the domestic flights. Airlines PNG operates to Australia (BNE, CNS) only and few other minor and major places in PNG. Confirm with the Airline Company.
Jackson’s International Airport is the Gateway of Papua New Guinea, situated about 8km away from the main town centre of Port Moresby . All the provinces have domestic airports.
Commercial Firms: Monday to Friday – 8:00am – 4:30 or 5:00pm. Saturday 8:00am – 12:00 noon.
Government Hours: Monday to Friday – 8:00am – 4:06pm.
PNG as a tropical country has wet and dry seasons all year around and they are not as black and white as elsewhere in Asia and Pacific. In practice, for most places the wet just means it is more likely to rain, the dry that it’s less likely. Temperatures rarely get too hot but the humidity is always high and can be oppressing. Rainfall is generally heavy but varies greatly. In dry, often dusty Port Moresby, the annual rainfall is about 1000mm. Elsewhere, rainfall can vary from a little over 2000mm, in Rabaul or Goroka for example, to over 4500mm in Lae. In extreme rainfall areas, such as West New Britain Province or the northern areas of the Gulf and Western Provinces, the annual rainfall can average more than 8m a year!
The island provinces have a more steady climate, with the ‘dry’ season from December to late May having milder temperatures (about 21°C to 28°C during the day) and infrequent, light rainfall. The heat and humidity rise during the ‘wet’ monsoon season, from late May to December. Cyclones can blow between January and April.
Informal and casual with shorts and open neck shirts worn throughout the year with traditional items and apparel: Thongs, sneakers and sandshoes are not allowed in some bars and restaurants. In the Highlands, sturdy walking shoes are recommended, and a sweater or jackets for cool evenings. For business meetings, look formal.
Vibrant and alive. Major hotels provide their own entertainment. The capital, Port Moresby, offers a variety of entertainment and nightlife in most major hotels, pubs and clubs.
HIRE CARS & TAXI
Public buses, hire cars and taxis are available. Must have driver’s licence – police checks are frequent.
FOOD & RESTAURANTS
Western cuisine is available in hotels, restaurants, guesthouse, lodges and village resorts. Port Moresby and other major town have many Asian and European restaurants. For a local experience try a traditional ‘mumu’ where food is cooked with hot stones under the ground.
From modern department complexes to quaint little stores – there are plenty of places to spend your money.
Transportation is mainly by air across PNG. A good network of roads connects the Northern zone and the Highlands region. Rental cars, local boats and ferries, taxis in larger towns, local buses are useful. There is no road link between the northern zone and the capital, Port Moresby the rugged nature of the terrain.
- One of the many pleasant surprises of Papua New Guinea is the wide range of art forms in diverse styles. Among the many tempting souvenirs you will encounter are:
- Bilums – string bags made from natural fibre.
- Masks - woven from cane or rattan: made of wood and clay and decorated with shells, hair and pig’s teeth or incise with brown and white patterns and finished in glossy black.
- Wooden bowls – bowls fashioned from prized local timbers, including ebony. Carved walking sticks, stools and tables are often inlaid with mother of pearl.
- Baskest/Trays – Many different patterns and styles can be found. Those from Bougainville are regarded as some of the finest in the Pacific.
- Drums – the most common musical instrument in Papua New Guinea: those made from a hollow tree trunk are called Garamuts while the smaller Kundu is shaped like an hour glass and has snake or lizard skins sketched over one end.
- Story Board – made on the Karam River, they illustrate in raised relief incidents of village life.
- Spirit Boards - act as guardians of the village with those from Gulf Province believe to posses the spirits of powerful warriors.
- Check with PNG National Museum for restricted exports.
ALL OTHER KEY CONTACTS – PNG YELLOW & WHITE PAGES DIRECTORY
Police, Ambulance, Government Departments, Tour Operators, Banks, PNG Investment Authority, PNG Tourism Authority, PNG Tax office, and more can be accessed from the PNG yellow & white page directory, which can be obtained at the airports or at your accommodation.
Population (2007 est.): 6.7 million.
Annual growth rate: 3.1%.
Languages: Three official languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Motu. There are approximately 860 other languages.
Education: Years compulsory--0. Literacy--49.3%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--65/1,000. Life expectancy--males 57.0 yrs.
Type: Constitutional parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: September 16, 1975.
Branches: Executive--British monarch (chief of state), represented by governor general; prime minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral parliament. Judicial--independent; highest is Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 19 provinces and the national capital district (Port Moresby).
Major political parties: National Alliance (NA), People's Progress Party (PPP), United Resources Party (URP), PNG Party (PNGP).
Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 75% of the population. Mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and oil, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings. The government of Prime Minister SOMARE has expended much of its energy remaining in power. He was the first prime minister ever to serve a full five-year term. The government also brought stability to the national budget, largely through expenditure control; however, it relaxed spending constraints in 2006 and 2007 as elections approached. Numerous challenges still face the government including regaining investor confidence, restoring integrity to state institutions, promoting economic efficiency by privatizing moribund state institutions, and balancing relations with Australia, its former colonial ruler. Other socio-cultural challenges could upend the economy including a worsening HIV/AIDS epidemic, currently the highest rate in all of East Asia and the Pacific, and chronic law and order and land tenure issues. Australia supplied more than $300 million in aid in FY07/08, which accounts for nearly 20% of the national budget. A consortium led by a major American oil company hopes to begin the commercialization of the country's estimated 227 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves through the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility by 2010. The project has the potential to double the GDP of Papua New Guinea.
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 low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbors for millennia. The advent of modern weapons and modern migration into urban areas has greatly magnified the impact of this lawlessness.
The isolation created by the mountainous terrain is so great that some groups, until recently, were unaware of the existence of neighboring groups only a few kilometers away. The diversity, reflected in a folk saying, "For each village, a different culture," is perhaps best shown in the local languages. Spoken mainly on the island of New Guinea--composed of Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of West Papua--some 800 of these languages have been identified; of these, only 350-450 are related. The remainder seem to be totally unrelated either to each other or to the other major groupings. Most native languages are spoken by a few hundred to a few thousand, although Enga, used in part of the highlands, is spoken by some 130,000 people. However, the Enga people are subdivided into clans that regularly conflict with each other. Many native languages are extremely complex grammatically.
Melanesian Pidgin serves as the lingua franca. English is spoken by educated people and in Milne Bay Province. The overall population density is low, although pockets of overpopulation exist. Papua New Guinea's Western Province averages one person per square kilometer (3 per sq. mi.). The Chimbu Province in the New Guinea highlands averages 20 persons per square kilometer (60 per sq. mi.) and has areas containing up to 200 people farming a square kilometer of land. The highlands are home to 40% of the population.
A considerable urban drift toward Port Moresby and other major centers has occurred in recent years. The trend toward urbanization accelerated in the 1990s, bringing in its wake squatter settlements, ethnic disputes, unemployment, public utilities pressure, and attendant social problems, especially violent crime.
Approximately 96% of the population is Christian. The churches with the largest number of members are the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Church, and the Seventh Day Adventist church. Although the major churches are under indigenous leadership, a large number of missionaries remain in the country. The bulk of the estimated 2,000 Americans resident in Papua New Guinea are missionaries and their families. The non-Christian portion of the indigenous population, as well as a portion of the nominal Christians, practices a wide variety of religions that are an integral part of traditional culture, mainly animism (spirit worship) and ancestor cults.
Foreign residents comprise about 1% of the population. More than half are Australian; others are from China, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the Philippines, India, and the United States, most of whom are missionaries. Since independence, about 900 foreigners have become naturalized citizens.
Though cultures vary widely, traditional Papua New Guinea social structures generally include the following characteristics:
The practice of subsistence economy
- Recognition of bonds of kinship with obligations extending beyond the immediate family group;
- Generally egalitarian relationships with an emphasis on acquired, rather than inherited, status; and
- A strong attachment of the people to land, which is held communally. Traditional communities do not recognize a permanent transfer of ownership when land is sold.
- Though land and other possessions may be inherited through the female line in some cultures, women generally are considered and treated as inferiors. Gender violence is endemic.
- Patterns and frequency of sexual activity, though never publicly discussed (especially in rural areas), contribute to the current rapid spread of HIV.
Most Papua New Guineans still adhere strongly to this traditional social structure, which has its roots in village life.