Saturday, July 16, 2016

Papua New Guinea

A Little About Papua New Guinea (PNG)

credit: Erin Apelu

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. Dallin 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).

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.

PNG is far behind in regards to human rights.

According to Wikipedia: Papua New Guinea is often labelled as potentially the worst place in the world for gender violence. A 2013 study in The Lancet found that 41% of men on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, reported having raped a non-partner while 14.1% reported having committed gang rape. According to UNICEF, nearly half of reported rape victims are under 15 years of age and 13% are under 7 years of age, while a report by ChildFund Australia citing former Parliamentarian Dame Carol Kidu claimed 50% of those seeking medical help after rape are under 16, 25% are under 12 and 10% are under 8.

Some members of a "Raskol" Gang
Obviously there is a lot of work to do there.

PNG has a lengthy history of political and economical unrest. It is considered to have one of the world's highest crime rates. With serious fraud allegations against the Prime Minister, the police force has split. Raskols, the local term used to describe street criminals armed with guns and bush knives are well known for hold-ups (even the LDS Missionaries). 

Police Officer in PNG
Today, many analysts say Papua New Guinea is in danger of political and economic collapse. The country's political system is unstable, the crime rate has soared and continues to soar, corruption is rampant, and essential services including health care and education continue to decline. Seventy percent of the country lives in poverty, according to The World Bank.
On top of all the poverty and political unrest in PNG, they are now a dumping ground for Muslim refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

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