Papua New Guinea as a nation identifies itself more with Melanesia than with any other group of nations and that probably goes for the majority of its people. thepeople15It is, of course, more complex and much more related to geophysical features. To the west of the Owen Stanley range are the Papuans, to the East those closest to Melanesia. In the outlying islands are some who would feel closer to Polynesia or Micronesia. Then there are the Highlanders. Within each group there is a wide range of physical type

thepeople11Papua New Guineans can usually classify their fellow countrymen to within a few hundred miles of their birthplace, often much less. Genetic analysis of a small sample of people from the Highlands has established that there could have been little marriage outside local areas, for the DNA is very consistently different from area to area.

Over the last twenty years PNG has been one of the fastest growing nations in the South Pacific. In 1995 the population is estimated to have reached about 4 million. In PNG indigenous people are always known as ‘nationals’ and Western or Australian residents as ‘expats’. thepeople13There is still a large expat population, though it has fallen Papua New Guinea as a nation identifies itself more with Melanesia than with any other group of nations and that probably goes for the majority of its people. It is, of course, more complex and much more related to geophysical features. To the west of the Owen Stanley range are the Papuans, to the East those closest to Melanesia. In the outlying islands are some who would feel closer to Polynesia or Micronesia. Then there are the Highlanders. Within each group there is a wide range of physical types. considerably since its peak of around50,000 in 1971. Today it is more like 20,000 and that figure includes many from Asia and Oceania.thepeople8

thepeope14

PNG is usually described as being rural in character, about 85% of the total population living in villages or scattered settlements. The highest proportion of population (36.7%) can be found in the five Highlands provinces, second highest in the northern coastal region (27.4%) followed by the southern coastal region (20%) and finally the islands region(15.7%).

 The average age of both the male and female population is 22.7, a figure that has remained fairly constant since the mid-sixties. Just over 7% reach the age of 60 years or above, with a slightly higher longevity record in rural areas. The average age of marriage has increased slightly over the past twenty years and now stands at about 24.5 for men and 20.8 for women. Many marriages are arranged at a young age, but wives do not usually take up residence with their spouses until they are in their late teens. For those who can afford the bride-price polygamy is still an option but it has showed a marked decline in recent years.thepeople17

thepeople6thepeople9thepeople1

This is the context in which the agencies and ministries who deal with communication, education, home affairs, health, housing and public works have to operate. It is a challenge and it has stimulated a diversity of original objectives and solutions.