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September Country of the Month

By Jonathan Friedland

With less than four percent of its population over the age of 65, Papua New Guinea can easily be called one of the youngest countries in the world. One would not expect much diversity in a 96 percent Christian nation such as Papua New Guinea, yet the nation’s tribes, who constitute four percent of the population, are some of the most diverse in the world.

1. The average life expectancy is 66, ranking 168 in the world.

2. Papua New Guinea has several thousand indigenous communities, each with contrasting languages, religions, and cultures.

3. Papua New Guinea’s unemployment rate stands at 1.9 percent; however, 37 percent of their population lives below the poverty line.

4. The nation has more unpaved roadways than paved roadways.

5. Papua New Guinea has voluntary military conscription starting at 16.

6. The country is slightly larger in size than California.

7. Tok Pisin, English, and Hiri Motu confunction as Papua New Guinea’s official languages.

8. Only 13 percent of Papua New Guinea’s population live in urban areas.

9. Papua New Guinea’s population is increasing rapidly as each woman has 3.31 children on average.

10. The nation’s elevation ranges from sea level to 14,793 feet.

11. Papua New Guinea has a long list of active volcanoes with the most recent one exploding in 2004 and forcing the abandonment of the island.

12. The country is located around the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and endures frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

13. Papua New Guinea suffers from severe Indonesian drug smuggling problems.

14. Australia awarded Papua New Guinea complete independence in 1975.

Ultimately, Papua New Guinea serves a buffer zone between Asia and Australia as it retains some parts of its English heritage and heavily embraces Asian culture. Since its independence, Papua New Guinea has grown to be a Christian nation with many small diverse tribes.


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