Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Little About Papua New Guinea (PNG)

New Ireland Beach in PNG

Papua New Guinea (referred to as PNG), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is considered an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and it's offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean just north of Australia.

It's capital, located along it's southeastern coast, is Port Moresby (the most dangerous city in Papua New Guinea). The Western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Darnel will be serving his mission in Lae (lay) and is the second largest city in PNG and located a small plane ride away on the other side of the mountain range.

PNG gets it's name from the frizzy/wooly haired Papuan people. After the Spanish and Portuguese explores in the 1500's, they began referring to it at New Guinea because the people's appearance was very similar to the people of Guinea Africa. With a population of over 7 million people, it is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, with 852 official languages (12 of them have no known living speakers). Tok Pisin (talk-piss-in) (a local Pidgin) is spoken mostly around the island, even though English is the official country language. The news and much of the government business is done in Tok Pisin.
A typical Settlement in PNG

Most of the people live in customary communities (aka settlements or the slums) which are as diverse as the languages. A Customary Community is land that is owned by the Indigenous community and is run by their customs.

PNG Bird of Paradise

None of the land is public land. PNG is one of the most rural countries in the world with only 18% of their population living in urban areas. Because the island is so dense, PNG is one of the least explored countries in the world.
It is believed that many species of plants and animals have never been discovered to this day. They are also exclusively home to then actual Bird of Paradise (not the plant).

Probably the most exciting non-spiritual thing that Darnel is looking forward to experiencing is the Mudmen. The eastern highlands of PNG are famous for the Asaro Mudmen. Legend has it they were defeated by and enemy tribe and forced to flee into the Asaro River. Waiting until dusk before attempting to escape, their enemy saw them rise from the muddy banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits (the people of PNG are very fearful of spirits due to the practice of voodoo and witchcraft, etc..) and ran in fear, allowing the Asaro to escape. The terrified tribesmen ran back to their village and held a special ceremony to ward off the spirits. Henceforth, the men don't cover their faces with mud because the people of PNG believe the mud from the Asaro river is poisonous, and they began making masks from the waterfall and pebbles that were heated.

PNG is the 54th largest country in the world. It's very diverse and rugged, with a spine of mountains, known as the New Guinea Highlands, that runs the length of the islands and is covered in mostly tropical rainforest.
Because of the dense terrain, it is difficult for them to develop good transportation structures. The only way to get between the capital, Port Moresby, and the next largest city, Lae, is by small plane.

Papua New Guinea is a Commonwealth realm; as such Queen Elizabeth II acts as its Sovereign and Head of State. The actual executive power lies with the Prime Minister, who is the head of the 31 member Cabinet.