23 Interesting And Fun Facts About Papua New Guinea [Explained]

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There are still some countries that you’ll visit and feel like you have gone back in time. That’s because tribalism is widespread in the country, and many people are cut off from the modern world. One way to understand more is to dive into some fun facts about Papua New Guinea.

Nevertheless, it is one of the most beautiful countries that is connected to pristine nature. If you’re thinking of visiting this Land of the Unexpected, here are some of the interesting Papua New Guinea facts to know.

Historical Facts About Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea only gained independence in the 20th century, which is why it’s still a relatively new nation. However, a lot has still happened to help you understand why the country is the way it is. Here are some Papua New Guinea history facts to be familiar with.

Port Moresby Became The Capital In 1873

Port Moresby has been the capital of the country since the 19th century. There are more than 410,000 people living there currently, and the number only keeps increasing. The port’s location is important because even during World War II, the capital used to be one of the key trading hubs for the country.

Germany, Australia, And Britain Were In Occupation Of The Country Till 1975

Before its recent independence, Australia, Germany, and Britain were the main rulers of the country. Even Japan came into the picture for a short while, especially during WWII. However, this was not the case for long, and Papua New Guinea finally gained independence in the 20th century.

The Country Was Part Of Sahul

Sahul used to be a prehistoric continent that Papua New Guinea was a part of. However, sea levels started rising, and the continent separated Papua New Guinea from Australia and other places at the time. 

The settlers from this period and their generations are now the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea.

Indigenous People Settled Here Fifty-Thousand Years Ago

According to research by many historians, humans first settled in Papua New Guinea at least fifty-thousand years ago. Because of this, the country is very old, and people are still tied to their traditional cultural roots. 

You will get to experience some of these traditions when you visit the country and mingle with the people.

Cultural Facts About Papua New Guinea

Tribal values mostly dictate the culture of Papua New Guinea. However, there is more to the culture than just this. Here are some Papua New Guinea culture facts to know.

The Country Has More Than A Thousand Unique Cultural Groups

The country is an amalgamation of many cultures, which is why it is incredibly diverse. You will find more than a thousand cultural groups here. 

Each culture has its unique dance, architecture, music, costumes, and much more. These are very distinct, and you will notice them as you meet different cultural groups.

Most Of The People Live In Rural Areas

There’s still a significant portion of the population in the country that resides in rural areas. People live in the widespread jungles throughout the area. Because of this, people don’t have access to modern education, healthcare, and many similar things.

Rituals And Initiations Are Common In Various Communities

You’ll notice that some ancient rituals and initiations are still prevalent in Papua New Guinea because of the tribal way of living in the country.  For example, it is believed that the Korowai tribe is one of the last people to practice cannibalism and eat the flesh of their tribesmen. They also kill and consume “khakhua” (male witches).

You Have To Try Mumu When You Are In Papua New Guinea

That said, Cannablism is not at all representative so the local food scene, so don’t worry about going hungry. 

Conversely, you have to try Mumu when you are in the country as it introduces you to the taste of the local cuisine. The dish consists of vegetables, rice, sweet potato, and pork. It’s incredibly delicious, and the locals love having this dish as it’s a staple in their diet.

Interesting Facts About Papua New Guinea For Kids 

Kids can also learn about the different countries and the diversity that Papua New Guinea has to offer. Here are some facts about Papua New Guinea for kids you can teach to your young ones.

The Golden Mantled Tree Kangaroo Has Been Here Since 1990

Deep inside the Torricelli Mountains, the people of Papua New Guinea came across the golden-mantled tree kangaroo, and it has been part of the country for more than three decades now. 

There is only a small population of Kangaroos left here because of the destruction of the jungles and the forest. The ones that are left are being well taken care of to ensure they survive.

The Birds Of Paradise Are Sacred Birds

The Papua New Guinea birds of paradise are sacred birds in the country, especially for the tribal people. Despite being  a sacred bird, it’s still under threat in the country because of poaching, trading, and many other similar issues. 

The government is trying its best to protect this bird, as it’s considered the national bird of Papua New Guinea.

The Biodiversity Here Is Incredible

The biodiversity in Papua New Guinea exists both on land and underwater. Because of this, it’s one of the best destinations in the world if you want to go scuba diving and explore the marine life. The country has close to seven hundred fish species, eight hundred coral species, and twenty thousand plant species.

The Main Resources Of The Country Are Gold And Copper

Every country has natural resources that it’s famous for. Papua New Guinea is y rich in copper and gold, as they are the main resources for the country. There are various gold regions in the area, and they also export these items to increase the GDP.

Fun Papua New Guinea Facts For Travelers

There are many reasons to travel to Papua New Guinea, which include the forests, jungles, biodiversity, tribes, culture, and much more. This is why it’s advantageous to know some fun facts about Papua New Guinea.

The Climate Is Tropical

The country has a tropical climate, which means that you’ll find the temperature fluctuating between 30° and 32°C all year during the daytime. 

Even if you go to a higher altitude, temperatures can still stay over 22°C. Rainfall is common, and you might even experience a rainstorm during your trip.

You Have To Witness The Mt. Hagen Cultural Show

Many people plan their trip to Papua New Guinea around the time of the Mt. Hagen cultural show. That is because the event features over seventy tribes showcasing their traditions, dances, customs, and much more, making for a huge fiesta.

If you want to experience the passion and get a glimpse into the culture of the people here, make sure you catch this show on your trip. It takes place in August!

You Will Find Some Poisonous Birds Here

The country also has some poisonous species of birds, such as Pitohui and Ifrita, that you won’t find anywhere else. 

Many people preserve these birds because they’re great at killing parasites, and are crucial to keeping the ecosystem going. However, some hunters capture these birds to take care of them.

Pidgin Is Widely Spoken In Papua New Guinea

Different variants of Pidgin are spoken throughout the world, but Papua New Guinea has its own version of Pidgin which is called Tok Pisin. It is the most widely spoken language in the country.

Tok Pisin is also the official language of the country, and it is not too difficult to pick up due to its similarities to English. Try learning a little bit of Pidgin language if you are looking to visit the country.

Common Facts About Papua New Guinea

There are some general facts about Papua New Guinea that most people will already be familiar with.

Indonesia And Papua New Guinea Share An Island

New Guinea is a popular island because it is the 2nd biggest island in the world, and Papua New Guinea shares this with Indonesia. 

The island was split since the colonial era; Both two countries have a long-standing tension between them, and the border areas are difficult to visit.

It Happens To Be On The Ring Of Fire

The Ring of Fire has many active volcanoes, as the name suggests, and Papua New Guinea lies in this region. Because of this, there’ve been many eruptions throughout its history. Some of the most recent eruptions that took place in the country happened in 2014, 2018, and 2019.

There Is A Lot Of Crime Here

The country has one of the highest crime rates in the world and there is also a lot of violence against women, especially in the tribes. That’s why it’s good to be careful while you are traveling the area. Some tribes that are not used to seeing outsiders may also take a more aggressive and cautious stance toward external visitors.

The World’s 3rd Largest Rainforest Is Here

That said though, there is a reason why people are still drawn to the country. Papua New Guinea is home to the third-largest rainforest in the world, which is why you’ll love the natural beauty it has to offer. There are trees, plants, and wildlife all around. This rainforest comes after the most famous rainforests of the Amazon and Congo.

Other Interesting Facts About Papua New Guinea

Here is some other information that can make for good Papua New Guinea trivia.

Women Are An Important Part Of Social Change

There is a lot to admire about the women in Papua New Guinea; they are creative, resilient, and incredibly hardworking. There’s a lot of inequality in the country, which is why women are at the forefront of social change. Many organizations are trying to improve the lives of women in Papua New Guinea.

It Gets A Lot Of Aid From Australia

Papua New Guinea has been receiving help from Australia to improve the country. It goes towards boosting growth, equality, human rights, and more.

Logging And Mining Are Putting Biodiversity At Risk

Activities such as mining and logging are putting the biodiversity of the country at risk. Developers are trying to get their hands on the land for urbanization. This has been detrimental to the tribal people that rely on agriculture.

Discovering More Fun Facts About Papua New Guinea

Home to some of the most exotic and rare animals in the world, Papua New Guinea is a rather underrated destination worth exploring. Although there are some general precautions you should take, the lush rainforests and towering mountains make it an incredible natural paradise.

With the mind-blowing cultural diversity, there are plenty of fascinating facts about Papua New Guinea waiting to be uncovered. You’ll want to keep exploring more of it once you get started!



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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