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Papua New Guinea
Preface Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinea is a country of striking contrasts where more than 1,000 diverse tribes speaking more than 800 different languages coexist with a modern economy based on world‑class copper and gold mines.

Independent since 1975, Papua New Guinea retains an Australian flavor and a large foreign population in its modern sector. The tropical climate is ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing.

The Embassy is generally made up of one‑officer sections, giving all employees a wide range of responsibilities and opportunities.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinea lies in the southwest Pacific, just south of the equator and about 100 miles northeast of Australia. The largest of the Pacific Island nations, it includes the eastern half of the island of New Guinea which it shares with Indonesia and numerous offshore islands, the largest of which are New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, and Manus. Their combined surface area is 286,248 square miles, slightly larger than the state of California.

The main island comprises 85% of Papua New Guinea’s total land area. A complex system of mountains extends from the eastern end of the islands to the western boundary with the Indonesian province of Papua. Precipitous slopes, knife‑sharp ridges, great outcroppings of mountains rising to heights of almost 15,000 feet, and broad upland valleys at altitudes of 5,000–10,000 feet characterize this area. Most of the terrain is covered by dense jungles of tropical rain forest. Large rivers forming the world’s twelfth largest riverine network flow to the south, north and east; few are navigable except by small boats in the lower reaches. The largest river, the Fly, which begins in the mountains of western Papua, flows over 700 miles, and can be navigated for 500 miles.

Between the northern and the central range of mountains lies the Central Depression, which contains the Sepik, Ramu, and Markham River valleys. Lowlands and rolling foothills of varying widths stretch along most of the coasts. Huge tracts of wetlands are common in the poorly‑drained coastal areas. On the southwest littoral, the great delta plain of the Daru coast forms one of the world’s most extensive swamps, exceeding 100,000 square miles.

The archipelagic areas of Papua New Guinea include three major islands—New Britain, New Ireland, and Bougainville—as well as a great variety of smaller, often very isolated island groups. The islands contain many volcanoes, both active and dormant; rich agricultural zones; and considerable mineral wealth. Thousands of coral reefs make the surrounding waters a mecca for marine biologists and scuba divers, while several of the smaller island groups, including the Trobriands and Manus Island, were the sites of classic anthropological studies.

Papua New Guinea lies wholly within the Tropics, and its climate is monsoonal. The “wet” northwest monsoon season extends from December to March and the “dry” southeast monsoon from May to October. Average annual rainfall is high, ranging from 80 to 100 inches for most districts. Although many areas have a wet and dry season, these terms are relative. Even in the so‑called dry season, 2–4 inches of rain per month fall in most areas. Many areas receive more than 200 inches, but a few, like Port Moresby, lie in a rain shadow and receive 40 inches or less annually.

Although tropical, temperatures are not extreme. Most lowland, coastal, and island areas have a daily average temperature of 81°F, and seasonal variations are slight. In the highlands, temperature varies with altitude. At 6,000 feet, the average temperature is 61°F; daytime temperatures rise to 90°F and nighttime temperatures fall between 40°F and 50°F. Lowland humidity is uniformly about 80% with very little seasonal variation. Humidity fluctuates more in the highlands where temperatures are lower.

Papua New Guinea’s rugged geography has hindered the development of adequate transport and communication facilities. The lack of this infrastructure continues to inhibit the development of some of the interior areas. It also has a negative impact upon the entire process of social, political and economic integration.

Population Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinea’s population grows at about 2.3% per year and was estimated in 2001 at approximately 5.1 million. It is one of the most heterogeneous populations in the Pacific, including several thousand villages, most with only a few hundred people. Divided by language, customs, and traditions, some of these communities have engaged in tribal warfare with their neighbors for centuries. The isolation created by the mountainous terrain is so great that some groups, until recently, did not know that neighboring groups lived only a few kilometers away. Nearly 800 identified languages (20% of the world’s languages) are spoken in Papua New Guinea.

Melanesian Pidgin is the lingua franca. An English cognate, Pidgin is relatively easy for Americans to learn and understand. English, the official language, is spoken by those who have attended school.

Population density varies widely from the nearly uninhabited forests of Western Province, which has an average population density of 1 person/sq. km., to the relatively crowded Western Highlands, which reports 40 persons/sq. km. Although there is considerable urban drift to the cities of PNG, there are no recent statistical studies of the phenomenon. The UN Population Fund estimates that current growth rates are no higher than those measured in a 1980–90 study which showed 4.6% annual growth for Port Moresby and 2.7% annual growth for Lae on the north coast.

Though decreasing in size, there is still a relatively large foreign community in PNG. About 10,000 Australians, 2,000 British, 3,000 New Zealanders, 2,000 Americans (mostly missionaries) make up the bulk of the Western foreign population. This number has decreased over the years, matched by an increase in Filipinos, Chinese, and Indians. The government's official policy is to promote the hiring of locals, rather than foreigners, but its efforts have been hampered by lack of qualified local workers.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinea became self‑governing on December 1, 1973. The Australian Government progressively transferred political and administrative responsibilities, and Papua New Guinea gained full independence on September 16, 1975. The Constitution provides for a national government consisting of a parliament and an independent judicial system. The Parliament is a single‑chamber legislature based on a modified Westminster system whose members are elected for 5‑year terms under a system of universal adult suffrage. The last national election was held in June 2002.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State; she is represented in Papua New Guinea by a Governor General who must be a citizen of Papua New Guinea and is required to act under the advice of the National Executive Council. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet (National Executive Council), led by the Prime Minister (Head of Government).

The National Executive Council is made up of members of the National Legislature (Parliament) who are chosen by the leader of the political party or coalition of parties that holds the most seats in the Parliament. Party influence is weak and members of Parliament are often elected on the basis of their prominence in local communities rather than their party affiliation. Consequently, ideologies are not sharply drawn between parties, and voters frequently cross party lines. As a result, the governments since independence have been formed by different, highly fluid coalitions. Votes of no confidence are common, and debate is often vigorous. Legislation was passed in 2000 aimed at increasing political stability by preventing Members of Parliment from voting across party lines.

The country is divided into 19 provinces plus the National Capital District (NCD—Port Moresby). A constitutional amendment in 1995 significantly changed the administration of the provinces. It both centralized the political control of the provinces—by appointing as governors the regional members of the national parliament and providing most provincial funding through the national government—while decentralizing to the provinces the responsibility of providing most government services for the people, such as health and education. Implementing the new system has proven to be more difficult than originally envisioned, and many coordination problems are still being worked out. A number of provincial governments was suspended in 2000 for alleged corrunpt operations.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM


There is a system of state and private schools in Papua New Guinea which provides primary through tertiary education. However, education is neither compulsory nor free, and overall school facilities are not sufficient to meet the rapidly growing numbers of children who require education. Failure to provide education appropriate to fill the demand for skilled workers has created large groups of early school leavers among the PNG population who do not have sufficient skills to find jobs, but who have just enough education to make them dissatisfied with village life. Foreigners in Papua New Guinea and well‑to‑do Papua New Guineans either enroll their children in private institutions or send them abroad for schooling.

Approximately 50% of adult men and 40% of adult women in Papua New Guineans are literate. English is introduced into the school curriculum no later than third grade, and all those who complete the sixth grade or better can speak and read English. 89.9% of children transition from second to third grades, but only 50.2% of grade six children go on to grade seven mainly because of limited facilities. Less than 2% of students who start grade one complete twelve years of schooling.

The National Education Plan (1994-2010) sets several targets for the year 2010: achieve universal primary education to grade eight, increase adult literacy rate to 80%, and increase the transition rate from primary school (grade 8) to secondary schools by 50%. Two main strategies are being implemented to achieve these objectives. The first involves the implementation of programs such as awareness campaigns, school construction, subsidized school fees, teacher training, curriculum reform, and provision of textbooks, equipment and materials. The second strategy for education reform aims to increase enrolment and avoid early dropouts. The reform has introduced communitybased elementary schooling (preparatory, Grade 1, and Grade 2) to young children in a language they can speak. Primary schools were restructured to teach Grades 3-8, in an effort to keep children in school longer, and to ease the transition to secondary school.

A correspondence system, known as the College of Distance Education (CODE) covers grades 7 through 12 and is available to children who cannot find places in the high schools. As of 1996, about half the number of those enrolled in high schools were enrolled in CODE courses. There are also 14 centers for the disabled throughout PNG, which are operated by non-governmental organizations with some support from the Government of Papua New Guinea.

There are over fifty tertiary institutions, the most important of which are the University of Papua New Guinea at Port Moresby (liberal arts, law, medicine, and business administration), the Papua New Guinea Institute of Technology at Lae, and the University of Papua New Guinea at Goroka, (mainly teacher training and business education).

Private international schools operated under the aegis of the International Education Agency (IEA) and staffed primarily by expatriate teaching staff, are found in the main population centers. Of these there are about 22 primary schools and eight high schools in the country.

Arts and Culture

Papua New Guineans express their rich cultural heritage in wood carvings, pottery, bark painting, dancing, costuming, and personal ornamentation. Oral tradition and legends, which are often surprisingly similar despite the diversity of peoples and languages, have also played an important role in the culture. They form the basis of traditional village social structure and are reenacted in song and dance. They are also depicted in carvings and bark paintings that are closely associated with clan customs and ceremonies. Magic and ancestor worship also play an integral part in everyday village life. The PNG government promotes indigenous art and is actively sponsoring a revival of older forms of cultural expression. Artists now also work in such modern mediums as textiles and lithographs.

Port Moresby's excellent National Museum and Art Gallery has a large permanent collection of traditional arts. The National Library also has an extensive collection of books and video tapes on aspects of life in Papua New Guinea, both traditional and modern, which Embassy personnel can borrow. The National Research Institute has a variety of publications, tapes, and records of traditional songs, stories, and legends. Other groups, including the Raun Raun Travelling Theatre, the Moresby Arts Theatre, and National Arts School, present cultural events periodically. Recent shows in Port Moresby have included: Dr. Strangelove, A116, A116, Casablanca, and Grease.

Several art shops in Port Moresby sell artifacts collected from all over the country. Hundreds of dancers from various villages, wearing elaborate headdresses and body decorations, perform annually at the world famous Highlands sing sings, held in Mount Hagen and Goroka. The annual Hiri Moale festival is held in Port Moresby each September with a week of traditional dancing, singing, sailing, and canoe racing. The latter commemorates old trading voyages that set out from the region when the southeast trade winds were blowing and returned with the northwesterly monsoons.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The World Bank classifies Papua New Guinea as a middle-income country based on its estimated 1995 per capita GNP of $1,160. However, although capital-intensive exploitation of natural resources (copper, gold, oil, timber), along with tree crops (coffee, copra, palm oil, cocoa), generates significant export revenues, at least 80% of the population reside in isolated villages, engaged in subsistence agriculture and small-holder cash-crop production. Non-export private-sector activity is mainly distributive rather than productive. Thus, the living standards and standard social indicators (such as literacy, infant and maternal mortality, and life expectancy) of the vast majority of thepeople are akin to those in low-income developing nations. The minimum weekly wage in 1998 was slightly less than $11.00 and by 2002 had fallen to $7.00.

Traditional villages are still home for most of the population, but education and exposure to Western culture are leading more young people to leave the village to look for work in towns. Unfortunately, economic growth in the non-mining sector has not kept pace with population growth over the past decade. The relatively small urban-based manufacturing and service sectors are unable to provide jobs for the increasing numbers of youths who leave their villages. Consequently, centers such as Port Moresby, Lae, and Mount Hagen have large, growing, squatter settlements.

In an effort to slow migration and bring villagers into the money economy, the government encourages agricultural development. Agricultural extension services and price-support programs have encouraged the planting of export crops. In addition, the government has supported projects including large sugar, oil palm, and rubber plantations, which are now privately owned. Development of locally-owned commercial fishing and sustainable forestry ventures is also a goal.

Economic growth continues to be hampered by the geography of the country. The extremely rugged terrain inhibits road construction and the capital and most populous city, Port Moresby, is accessible only by sea or air. In the center of the country, the Highlands Highway links the port of Lae to major towns and mining and petroleum sites in the Highlands. Additional road development has been slow since Independence and maintenance of existing roads has been poor, though improving this is a major goal of the Government's development program. Some third-tier airlines and helicopter companies complement the national airline, Air Niugini, in providing cargo and passenger service to over 400 airports and airstrips throughout the country. Coastal and inter-island shipping is expensive and often not equipped to carry passengers.

Papua New Guinea is heavily dependent on imports for manufactured goods and exports raw materials and agricultural products. In 1997 Papua New Guinea imported $1.5 billion in machinery, transportation equipment and other manufactured goods, rice and processed foods, fuels and chemicals. Its principal suppliers are Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Malaysia. During the same year, it exported $2.2 billion in gold, copper ore, oil, timber, palm oil, coffee, and cocoa. Its major markets are Australia, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and China. U.S. trade with Papua New Guinea is limited. In 1997 U.S. goods, dominated by machinery and aircraft, accounted for about eight percent of PNG's total imports. During the same year, the United States purchased about three percent of PNG's total exports, primarily oil, coffee and cocoa.

Historically, the mining and petroleum sector has contributed 25% of PNG's GDP and from 65 to 80% of export earnings. While production from older major ventures, including the Ok Tedi copper mine, the Porgera gold mine and the Kutubu oil fields, has begun to decline, new projects are under development or active exploration. The Lihir Gold Mine, one of the largest gold mines outside South Africa, commenced production in 1994 in New Ireland Province. A new oil field was also opened at Gobe in the Gulf and Southern Highlands Provinces in 1998 and the Moran field began production in 2001.

U.S. companies have been active in the development of PNG's mining and petroleum sector. Chevron Texaco is a joint-venture partner in the Kutubu, Gobe and Moran oilfields and is also the operator. Exxon Mobil is also active in PNG's petroleum sector and is now the lead joint-venture partner in a project that aims to export natural gas to Australia by pipeline. U.S. firms also supply services and supplies to the mining and petroleum industries. U.S. financial institutions have been involved in financing for most major resource development projects in PNG.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Port Moresby consists of several suburbs spread over a large area. This, combined with inadequate public transportation, makes a privately-owned vehicle a necessity. Vehicles can be imported, but all common Japanese models, Australian Ford, and Hyundai are sold and serviced in Port Moresby. Cars purchased duty-free may be sold after 24 months without penalty, however, prorated duty must be paid for vehicles sold before the 24month period expires. At present, duty on new cars ranges from 60% to 110% of the FOB price.

Secondhand cars are available. However, since duty has already been paid on these cars, the price for a good used car often equals the duty-free price of a new car. Occasionally a used car, originally imported duty-free, can be purchased from a departing member of the diplomatic corps.

Traffic moves on the left, and right-hand-drive cars are required by law. However, exceptions may be applied for in the case of foreign embassy personnel. To date, the Mission has not experienced difficulties in getting permission for left-hand drive vehicles. (See also Customs, Duties, and Passage).

Post assists new personnel with vehicle registration. Registration fees are waived for Mission personnel, as is the fee for the three-year Papua New Guinea driver's license that is obtained by presenting a valid U.S. driver's license. Third-party liability insurance is mandatory. It currently costs K292.00 ($84.00) per year. Embassy personnel should also purchase full-coverage insurance because of high accident and theft rates. Two insurance agencies in Port Moresby provide coverage at K1155.00 ($330.00) per year. Letters from former insurers indicating no insurance claims over the past 5 years can sharply reduce insurance fees.

Gasoline currently costs approximately $2.12 per gallon. Vehicle repairs and service are expensive, often slow, and the quality of work is uneven. All sales outlets service the brands they sell, but repairs on cars not sold in Port Moresby can be hard to obtain. Considerable delay and expense can be incurred if spare parts must be imported.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are not necessary for driving in Port Moresby. However, those without four-wheel drive are more prone to tire and wheel damage due to the poor condition of the roads during the wet season. Bicycles are not practical due to the extremely hilly terrain, narrow roads and careless drivers.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Use of a private car is essential in Port Moresby. No adequate, reliable public transportation system exists. Public Motor Vehicles (PMV's - small buses or 15passenger vans) offer unscheduled daytime service for 50 toea ($.14) to most parts of the city, but they are often unreliable and unsafe and the RSO recommends against using them. Cars are available for hire, but cost more than they do in the U.S. Taxis are unsecure and not recommended. The post provides official transportation for newcomers until their cars arrive.

Except for the Highland's Highway beginning in Lae, and roads around most major towns, no extensive road system exists in the country. Road networks between Port Moresby and the interior have been prevented so far by barriers of mountains, swamps and jungles. The longest road from Port Moresby extends just over 200 miles to the northwest. Another road extends 200 miles east, and a third stretches 45 miles north into the mountains past Sogeri. None of the roads reaches a town of over 1,000 inhabitants and highway banditry is common. Paved roads stop approximately 20 miles from city limits.

Papua New Guinea has no rail network. Intercoastal shipping exists but is not designed for passenger travel.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Most people travel between the main population centers by air. The national airline, Air Niugini, provides daily service to most major towns. Planes are usually full, even though domestic and international air fares are among the highest in the world. Third‑level air carriers fly to more isolated towns and villages that have grass airstrips.

Air Niugini and Qantas offer several flights a week to Australia. Currently two flights a week also are available to Manila, Singapore and Honiara. Service to Tokyo is expected to start in 2002.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The telephone system in Papua New Guinea is relatively efficient. Australia and most main areas of PNG can be dialed directly. Direct dialing to the U.S. is also available in all Embassy residences.

All Embassy living quarters have telephones. As of 2002, charges are based on a flat rental fee of K10.54 ($3.01) per month plus an additional fee for each telephone call made. Local calls cost .30 toea ($.085) per minute. Calls to the U.S. are K4.00 ($1.14) per minute.

Embassy numbers are: Telephone: (675) 321-1455 After Hours (duty officer): (675) 693-7943 Fax: (675) 321-3423 (Front Office); (675) 320-0637 (Adm/GSO)

Internet Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Internet Service is available from several companies. The most popular company charges a one-time registration fee of K55.00 ($15.71) and offers several packages including a 20 hour/month package for a flat rate of 77K ($20).

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Local and international mail service are reliable. Within country, mail is delivered only to a post office box or counter, not to individual companies or residences. Mailing a letter within country costs K.50 ($.14) for up to 50 grams. Airmail letters to the U.S. cost K2.65 ($.75) for up to 50 grams. Airmail parcel rate to the U.S. is K40.00 ($11.43) for packages from 50 grams to 1 kilogram. The Embassy's international mail address is:

U.S. Embassy P.O. Box 1492 Port Moresby National Capital District, 121 Papua New Guinea

The Embassy also has access to APO service via the Consulate in Sydney. Employees use APO service to mail and receive packages to/from the United States. Employees must supply their own stamps for this purpose, or write checks to "U.S. Postmaster San Francisco" for the-cost. The address for APO mail is:

American Embassy Port Moresby APO AP 96553

The Embassy receives diplomatic mail pouches by air on average once a week from Washington, D.C., and sends mail pouches to the States once per week, on Tuesdays. Transit time prior to September 2001 varied from 10 to 20 days. The address for official mail via pouch is:

Department of State 4240 Port Moresby Pl. Washington, D.C. 20521-4240

The address for personal mail via pouch is:

Your Name 4240 Port Moresby Pl. Dulles, V.A. 20189-4240

Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Radio is the most accessible communications medium in PNG where rugged terrain prevents newspapers from reaching the more remote communities and television is beyond the reach of the vast majority of citizens. Most radio stations broadcast news several times a day and most programs are in English.

There are several radio broadcasters in Papua New Guinea; the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) manages the majority of the radio broadcasting operations in the country. It operates a national non-commercial AM network that, during the evening, also broadcasts in short-wave in local languages from 19 provincial stations located throughout the country. NauFM operates two stations. It broadcasts a station in English featuring popular music targeted at a young, professional audience and Yumi FM in Tok Pisin, a service that targets an older and more traditional audience. Radio Kalang, Hits and Memories, and FM Central also offer a variety of music, news and commentary to the Port Moresby population.

Radio Australia, BBC, and VOA signals can be picked up on a short-wave radio. Reception is usually good with an outdoor antenna. Short-wave sets purchased locally cost about 25% more than comparable sets sold in the U.S.

The national TV station, EM-TV, broadcasts news, old American and Australian programs and movies, as well as some local programming. It receives news via satellite from its parent network in Australia. CableTV can be obtained for fee of K77 ($22.00) per month. It currently offers CNNI, BBC, Cinemax, HBO, Star Movies, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, four Australian channels, a local movie channel among others. The post also provides each residence with multi-system video-cassette recorders and DVD players. A wide range of tapes can be rented from local video clubs. Some tapes and DVD's are available from the Embassy's small "classic" film library.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Two English‑language newspapers, the Post‑Courier and The National, are published 5 days a week in Papua New Guinea. A few magazines, technical journals, and various weeklies are also published, including the Pidgin‑language Wantok and the English‑language The Independent.

The Embassy also subscribes to the The Economist, Time, Newsweek, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. Australian newspapers and magazines, regionally-oriented journals, and a few general-interest American magazines are available at news stands. Paperback books are also available, but the selection is poor and prices are high.

The National Library in Waigani has a good collection of nonfiction, periodicals, and children's books. It also has research facilities and a lending service of some 6,000 films and 400 video cassettes, including documentaries about Papua New Guinea. The library at the University of Papua New Guinea has an extensive but outdated selection of books and audio materials. It, too, is open to the public. The CLO has a small lending library composed mainly of donated paperback novels.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Port Moresby General Hospital can handle most routine cases, however, service and hygiene are inadequate by U.S. standards. The hospital is chronically short on staff and overcrowded, while most of the employees are undertrained or untrained. Thus, personnel are advised to use the private medical clinics in Port Moresby that are staffed by Western-trained doctors. The post provides membership for all employees and their resident dependents in a clinic owned and operated by the Chevron Texaco oil company, but because of the absence of reliable in-patient emergency care, personnel with illnesses that are likely to require such care, e.g., asthma, heart conditions, etc., are advised to be cautious in bidding on Port Moresby. Local pharmacies stock a full range of medicines to meet most medical requirements. Some lab tests must be performed in Australia, causing delays, which can be lengthy.

Specialized surgery and treatment for more unusual or difficult medical problems are not available in Port Moresby. Cases requiring special treatment are normally evacuated to Cairns, Brisbane or Sydney, Australia. Psychiatric treatment is not available in Port Moresby.

Private dentists practice in Port Moresby. General treatment is available, but costs are higher than in the U.S. Personnel requiring complicated dental procedures, such as root canals or crowns, are generally evacuated to Cairns.

The regional medical officer is based in Singapore and visits post approximately every three months.

Community Health Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Tap water, though treated, should not be considered safe for drinking in Papua New Guinea, especially for children. All embassy residences are equipped with ultraviolet filters for drinking water. Garbage is collected at residences once a week by Embassy maintenance staff. Sewage disposal facilities are adequate, though a fair amount is dumped into the Coral Sea three miles offshore from Port Moresby, so the area is not safe for swimming. Local food container and beverage sterilization facilities are considered to be adequate. Milk is safe. Meat, fish and poultry do not require special handling, but should be thoroughly cooked. Local seafood should never be eaten raw. Local vegetables and fruits should be well scrubbed and soaked in a Clorox solution.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Many of the communicable diseases found in Papua New Guinea also occur in the United States, however, some conditions are found more frequently in PNG. Intestinal problems occur, but dysentery is not common. Chloroquine-resistant malaria is endemic at lower elevation in all areas outside Port Moresby. Port Moresby has a relatively low incidence of malaria, and although a few cases do occur, the RMO does not recommend antimalarial medications if you will be spending all your time in Port Moresby. However, if you are going outside of the city for any significant period of time, precautions such as antimalarial tablets (mefloquine is most commonly used by USG employees) should be taken beginning two weeks before coming to PNG, taken during the stay in-country and for six weeks after leaving. Because of the nocturnal feeding habits of the anopheles mosquito, malaria transmission occurs primarily between dusk and dawn. Personal protection measures are very important. Use of a repellent cream or spray when going out in the evenings is recommended, especially during the rainy season. Visitors should get current information from MED before traveling into remote areas of PNG.

As in all tropical climates, sunburn, prickly heat, and various fungal infections are easy to contract. All cuts and scratches, especially those suffered while swimming, snorkeling or diving, should be treated immediately with a good antiseptic to prevent infection. Snake bites can be a danger, so grass surrounding residences must be cut regularly to discourage their presence. Care should be taken when visiting uncultivated areas. Large spiders are seen occasionally, but are seldom dangerous.

For seven to eight months of the year, the climate in Port Moresby is warm and dry with some dirt and dust in the air. During the remaining months of the year, it is hot, humid and rainy. Flu and colds can occur during the sudden change from dry to wet season and vice versa. Persons with a history of sinus allergies or asthma may find their symptoms exacerbated by the environment. Mold and mildew are a problem here, though somewhat less than in other equatorial posts due to the relatively dry weather. Air-conditioned storage is recommended.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Embassy currently has five positions designated for dependants or locally-hired Americans, and there is often at least one position available at any given time. Opportunities exist for employment in international schools and international companies, but positions on the local market are limited. A de facto spousal employment agreement is recognized by the Papua New Guinea Government.

Before an eligible family member may be allowed to work in PNG, the potential employer may be required to demonstrate the inability to fill a position with a qualified Papua New Guinean and the Department of Industrial Relations may wish to assess the labor market and determine that no PNG citizens possess the necessary qualifications for the position. In order to work, non-citizens must obtain a work permit from the Department of Industrial Relations before entering Papua New Guinea. If a family member locates a position after arrival, his/her entry permit must be changed from "employment prohibited" to an employment entry permit. Individuals entering PNG on visitor or business entry permits are not permitted to change to employment status. For family members who succeed in finding employment on the local market, wages tend to be lower than in the U.S. Employed diplomatic dependents retain their privileges and immunities, but they pay local income tax on locally-earned income. This tax is withheld automatically.

American Embassy - Port Moresby

Post City Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is a sprawling town with a population of over 300,000 (1998 est.) located on hilly terrain on the southern Papua coast. Because it lies within a small rain shadow, the city's geography and climate differ substantially from other parts of Papua New Guinea. During the dry season (May-October), hills in the city dry up and turn brown. However, the climate, although hot, is usually pleasant: low humidity (60%), steady trade winds, daytime highs of 80 F, and nighttime lows in the high 60's F.

During the rainy season, which coincides with the southern summer (December-March), daytime highs frequently reach the low 90's F; 80% humidity is normal. However, lengthy afternoon rain showers cool things off, and nights are usually in the low to mid 70's F. At this time of the year, the landscape in Port Moresby is green.

The old center of town, where the Embassy is located, lies on a peninsula that helps protect the large harbor from the Coral Sea. A number of modern high-rise buildings punctuate the skyline, contrasting with the traditional Motuan villages on stilts along the shoreline. The city's shipping docks and a yacht marina are located along the shore.

Next to the city center are Touaguba and Ela Makana Hills, sites of Port Moresby's best housing and the location of all the Embassy housing. Both benefit from cool ocean breezes and spectacular views of harbor and sea. Centered on a small business district by the harbor, over the years, Port Moresby has expanded via suburban developments some 11 kilometers inland. Boroko, the main shopping area, and adjacent Gordons are the largest middle-class areas of Port Moresby. Both are located 6 to 8 kilometers inland. Jackson's Airport, which can handle wide-bodies aircraft, is 11 kilometers from downtown via a newly constructed highway.

Papua New Guinea's capital center is the suburb of Waigani, 8 kilometers from downtown. A six-lane boulevard leads to several modern high-rise buildings that house government offices. Waigani is also the site of an 18-hole golf course and several diplomatic missions.

The Parliament House, National Museum and a small theater for live performances are also in Waigani, as is the Prime Minister's official residence. The University of Papua New Guinea, and the National Botanical Gardens, home of one of the world's largest orchid collections as well as a fine sample of Papua New Guinea's exotic birds, are nearby.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Embassy Port Moresby, a Special Embassy Program (SEP) post, consists solely of the Department of State. Currently the State Department contingent is composed of nine direct-hire American personnel: the Ambassador, DCM, economic/commercial officer, administrative officer, general services officer, consular officer, OMS, communicator and regional security officer. The post also employs 35 national personnel, all Papua New Guineans, and has five positions for dependent or locally-hired Americans.

The Ambassador is also accredited to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Embassy officers make official visits to both countries at least once every other month. There are Peace Corps programs and administrative offices in Vanuatu. There is a consular agent in Solomon Islands.

The Embassy is located in the harborside "Town" area of Port Moresby on Douglas Street, in a block dominated by banking establishments. The building, formerly the Bank of Papua New Guinea, was renovated by the Department of State and occupied in 1995. The entire building is newly decorated and furnished. It is pleasant, roomy, airconditioned and supported by a backup electrical generator system and emergency water tanks. A fitness facility on the lower level has several workout stations. Employees park on the street in front of the building in reserved spots.

Working hours are 7:45 am to 4:30 pm with 45 minutes for lunch, Monday through Friday. The Embassy switchboard number is (675) 321-1455. After hours a recorded message informs callers how to reach the duty officer.

Embassy personnel meet and assist new arrivals at Jackson's Airport, Port Moresby and the Community Liaison Officer provides written information on living in Port Moresby and a written medical guide. Inform the administrative officer in advance of your travel plans; especially the date you expect to arrive at post, and your flight number.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Port Moresby has four hotels of international standard: the Crowne Plaza, the Holiday Inn, the Airways Hotel and the Gateway Hotel. Most TDY personnel are housed at the Crowne Plaza, which is located downtown within sight of the Embassy. The Holiday Inn, eight kilometers from the Embassy, near the government center of Waigani, is also sometimes used for TDY visitors. The Airways and Gateway Hotels are located near the airport and are most often used by transiting personnel and military aircrews.

For 2002, Embassy standard room rates were K280 ($80.00) at the Crowne Plaza and K275 ($78.60) at the Airways.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

All Embassy housing is Government-owned and furnished. It consists of the Ambassador's residence, a staff compound with six town houses, and a single-family four-bedroom house occupied by the DCM. New arrivals can usually move into their permanent quarters immediately upon arrival or shortly thereafter, depending on the departure plans of their predecessor. When necessary, the post will make hotel reservations.

The Ambassador's residence, located on Touaguba Hill near the homes of several other heads of mission, features spectacular views of the harbor from all floors. Like many other large houses in Port Moresby, it is built on the side of a steep hill and has four levels. The entrance level has four bedrooms, one of which is configured as a television/computer room, and three baths. The living room, accessible by descending a flight of stairs, features a cathedral ceiling and large windows. The dining room is located a few steps up from the living room. The dining table seats 12. A kitchen and powder room complete the floor. Entertaining also is done on a large patio on the third level down. It and the swimming pool are accessible by a circular staircase off the living room balcony. The fourth level has separate family quarters for one household employee.

A single-family house, currently occupied by the DCM, is located one street away from the Ambassador's residence. The two-story, L-shaped house also has a spectacular harbor view and a large swimming pool with a handsome patio. The living room has marble floors. There is a family room off the kitchen on the first floor, four bedrooms on the second floor, and separate quarters for household staff.

Other Embassy staff is housed in six three-bedroom townhouses in a compound on top of adjacent Ela Makana Hill. Many of the 2,200/sq. ft. units offer a sweeping view of the Coral Sea. The compound has a small swimming pool with deck area for entertaining, roomy yard, backup generator, water tank and individual carports.

The townhouses are built on six levels. A small dining room, on the same floor as the kitchen, accommodates up to eight persons. Each townhouse has one large bathroom on the same level as the master bedroom and a small guest bathroom, laundry room and study on the lowest level. The living room and master bedroom have large windows to take advantage of the view and balconies on both levels.

All living units are completely air-conditioned. Compared to American homes of similar size they have generous closet and cupboard space. However, there are no basements or attics and no climate controlled storage space available outside the houses. Employees are asked not to bring excessive amounts of personal belongings that cannot be comfortably accommodated in the living quarters.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

All units have full sets of government-provided furniture. The master bedrooms are typically furnished with queen-sized beds, and the other bedrooms with twin beds. All windows are fitted with blinds or curtains and draperies. Newly arrived staff are allowed to choose their drapery colors and fabrics within a monetary limit. The Ambassador's residence has wall-to-wall carpeting. The other quarters are furnished with rugs. The Ambassador's residence was completely redecorated in 1996. The single-family house was renovated in 2001. Furniture in other units is rotated according to a five-year schedule.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Electricity is 240v, 50hz. Power can be erratic; surges and spikes are common. Employees are advised to bring voltage protectors and surge suppressers. Personnel who own computers should bring an uninterruptible power supply or purchase one in Port Moresby. Every house has back-up generators, American automatic clothes washer and dryer, microwave oven, dishwasher, an extra freezer/refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and a shared barbeque grill, as well as a television, multi-system video recorder and DVD player. The Ambassador's residence is also furnished with a multi-system music set and speakers.

Each residence has three 1,500-watt step-down transformers, but U.S. electrical appliances must be converted to 50hz. Employees who expect to need more transformers than those provided by the Embassy are advised to bring additional transformers with them. Power outlets are three-prong Australian design; plug adapters can be purchased locally.

The water supply is usually dependable. However, the Chancery and all Embassy residences have water tanks for use in the event of temporary cuts during the dry season. Ultraviolet water purifiers are installed in the kitchen of each residence.

Embassy welcome kits are adequate to tide families through until their personal effects shipments arrive.

Food Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Although a few imported items are significantly more expensive than in the United States, most foods used by American families are regularly available in Port Moresby. Supermarkets and pharmacies resemble their counterparts in Australia rather than those of other developing countries.

A wide variety of meats, fish, canned goods, fruits, vegetables and frozen goods is available. Quality in general is high, with the exception of imported fresh fruits and vegetables which are sometimes offered in poor condition. Most food items are imported from Australia, although limited items imported from the United States are also found in the stores. Locally produced fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs and beef are also available. Bread is baked locally. Fresh and UHT "long life" milk, both imported, are widely available. A wide range of good quality dairy products, including ice cream and cheese, is always available. Major supermarkets maintain delicatessen sections stocked with a selection of sausage and cold cuts. Coffee produced in Papua New Guinea is high quality and flavorful. However, instant coffee is imported and decaffeinated is not available on the local market. There is a bottling plant in Port Moresby and a wide variety of soft drinks are always available.

Embassy diplomatic personnel can purchase alcoholic beverages duty free through Embassy arrangements. Wines available locally are primarily from Australia and New Zealand and are excellent value.

Some all-American items which are not quite the same locally or not available, and which employees may wish to bring with them are chocolate chips, baking chocolate, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, decaffeinated coffee, double-acting baking powder, pretzels and special convenience foods, like canned pumpkin, pudding mixes, and cranberry sauce.

There are numerous local open-air markets. However, personnel are advised not to frequent them due to the danger of theft and assault.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Lightweight, summer clothes are most useful in this tropical climate. Embassy homes and offices are air conditioned, but cotton clothes and underwear are most comfortable for activities out of doors. Employees are advised to bring a good supply of clothing with them. Locally available shoes, clothing and fabrics are limited in choice, expensive and generally not good quality.

Fashion tends to the practical and casual. During the wet season, an umbrella is most useful. Raincoats are too hot. However, raincoats, ponchos, sweaters and light-weight jackets are useful for travel in the highlands, where temperatures are significantly cooler and wetter. Light sweaters or wraps are also useful in Port Moresby after sundown during the cooler months. Hats and sunglasses are necessary even for short periods in the sun. Warmer clothes will be required if travel to the southern parts of Australia is undertaken during winter (May to October).

Men Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

During the day, short-sleeved, open-neck shirts with slacks are customary. Office attire in the Embassy is slacks and shirts. Tropical formal wear includes a summerweight suit and tie, or long-sleeved white shirt and tie with slacks. Tropical informal attire (for most social events) is an open-neck sport shirt worn with slacks. There are several formal balls during the year where black tie is appropriate but usually not required.

Women Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Lightweight dresses and short-sleeved summer suits are worn to the office. Many women find pantyhose uncomfortable in the tropical heat and do not wear them. Slacks, walking shorts, and cotton skirts and dresses are acceptable for street wear and travel. Tight-fitting clothing is not recommended. Cotton underwear and sleepwear are most comfortable. Tropical formal evening wear is generally cocktail dresses or suits. Tropical informal evening wear can be summer dresses or summer evening slacks and shirts. Dress for the black-tie balls that take place annually in Port Moresby is usually floor-length dresses.

Children Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Primary and secondary students wear uniforms to school. Shorts, blue jeans, and t-shirts worn with sandals or athletic shoes are universally popular. Girls may want cotton dresses for dressier occasions. Children too should have hats and sunglasses.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Toiletries, cosmetics, medicines and common household articles normally used by American families are available locally and several U.S. brand names made by Australian subsidiaries exist. However, prices for toiletries are high and brands of cosmetics sold in the United States are riot available. Employees are advised to bring a supply if they have special preferences. Hardware stores are well stocked, and kitchenware and household linen is available, although more expensive than in the United States.

Most medicines are available, but sold under brand names common in Australia. Employees should ask their doctor for the generic name of the medication they will need in Port Moresby. Common medicines are sometimes considerably cheaper than in the United States.

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Most basic services are available at varying levels of reliability including dry cleaning and shoe repair. There are unisex hair salons that offer competent service. One salon has excellent prices for hair coloring and offers spa treatments. Automotive and appliance repair services are spotty in quality and parts can be expensive. Employees are advised to bring a supply of commonly used automotive spare parts with them if possible.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Female domestic servants who do general housework, laundry and child-minding are available, although those who are English-speaking and well-trained are not easy to find. Competent cooks are very scarce. Families with small children usually rely on their domestic help for babysitting services. Employees who need household help to care for children should plan to take some time vetting possible candidates. Current wages for domestic help, working five days a week, range from $120 to $170 a month.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Most major Christian denominations are represented in Port Moresby. Anglican, Assembly of God, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist, Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses churches all have weekly services. Congregations include Papua New Guineans and foreigners. Ministers and priests are both foreign and Papua New Guinean. Services are in English, Pidgin or Motu. An Islamic congregation also meets weekly. There is no Jewish synagogue, or Hindu or Buddhist temple.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Schools used by children of post personnel in Port Moresby include the Port Moresby International School (grades 7 through grade 12), and the Ela Beach/Murray International School (pre-school to grade 8). Ela Beach and Murray primary schools merged in 2002. Pre-school to grade 2 students attend Ela Beach, while grades 3 and above attend Murray. The schools employ national and foreign teachers, many of whom are spouses of foreigners working in Papua New Guinea. The curriculum is similar to that followed in Australia. All three schools have playing fields and sports programs. The Port Moresby International High School offers an International Baccalaureate program in grades 11 and 12. The school year begins at the end of January and ends in mid-December. It is broken into four terms approximately ten weeks in length, with a long vacation in Deceinber January.

There are a number of pre-school programs available in Port Moresby. Programs currently used by American families frequently have waiting lists. Employees who wish to use such services may wish to register their children before their arrival at post.

Dependent children of employees stationed in Port Moresby are also eligible for away from post schooling. In the past, staff has boarded children at schools in the United States and in Australia.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Sports available to everyone include golf, tennis, scuba diving, bushwalking, jogging, softball, netball, rugby, swimming, aerobics, karate, tae kwon do, yoga, waterskiing, windsurfing, squash, snorkeling and sailing. Soccer and rugby are popular spectator sports. Diving lessons are offered on a regular basis. The Royal Papuan Yacht Club operates a marina in the city center. Another boat mooring facility is available for a fee a short distance out of town.

There are occasional theater productions by university, regional and amateur groups. The amateur theater group is open to new members. There are choral presentations by church-based choirs who are always accepting new members. Exhibitions of contemporary and traditional art are organized at the National Gallery and Museum, which has a good permanent collection of traditional art as well as a small collection of live domestic birds and animals. The beautifully kept National Botanical Gardens feature an orchid exhibition and a walk-through aviary and provide safe and beautiful picnic facilities for a small fee.

Several restaurants throughout the city offer both Asian and Western cuisine. Many foreign residents are members of social clubs, which also run restaurants, bars and sporting facilities. There are also night spots which offer discotheques, bars, pool tables, dart throwing, and slot machines. Many of these offer good live bands playing popular Western and local music. Those with secure parking are safe and frequented by diplomats, foreigners and the local community. Additionally, many people enjoy entertaining at home in small groups or at barbeques for larger gatherings. Embassy housing provides facilities for both types of entertaining.

There are no movie theaters, although a local hotel offers recent releases every Sunday night in a theater atmosphere. Additionally, DVDs can be purchased, and cable television is available at all Embassy housing for a monthly fee. The Embassy has a small video library of classic American films available for loan to Embassy employees and a small lending library.

Official Functions Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guineans and Australians, the largest foreign group here, are informal in their approach to social life. First names are used immediately and spur-of-the-moment invitations are common. Punctuality is often not observed, and arriving 30 minutes late is considered to be more or less on time, whether for an appointment or for a dinner. Many Papua New Guineans believe it more discourteous to say no to an invitation than to accept it and not appear. Nevertheless, foreigners, particularly diplomats, are held to a different standard, and Embassy staff is expected to follow normal, American social etiquette.

Business cards are used in Papua New Guinea. The Chief of Mission and the DCM should bring at least 500 cards. Other officers need about 300 cards for a two-year tour. Cards should bear diplomatic titles, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail addresses. (The Embassy can provide each officer with their e-mail address following announcement of the assignment.) Cards can be printed locally, but are more expensive than in the U.S.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinea is a young nation, made up of hundreds of cultural groups, which speak nearly 800 separate languages. First loyalties are to family and clan. Strong attachment to the idea of a nation or obedience to government-imposed regulations is common for the most part only among the educated elite. For most Papua New Guineans, the interface between traditional and modern economic and government systems is the "wantok system." Wantok means literally "one talk," i.e., common language. It includes clansmen, relatives and friends who speak the same language. The wantok system involves people in an intricate network of rights and obligations extending well beyond the primary family. For a person who has prospered materially, the wantok system creates an obligation to assist other group members with gifts, money or jobs. To a Westerner, and occasionally to a westernized Papua New Guinean, the wantok system may seem regressive or an impediment to modernization. However, most Papua New Guineans still regard it as part of the basic scaffolding of their social system. Forced to choose between obligations to the extended family and to their employers, many Papua New Guineans will choose the family first, which poses a problem for foreign managers.

Generally speaking traditional society in Papua New Guinea is male dominated and, in some areas, polygamous. Melanesian society generally does not have hereditary chiefs. Many villages and clans are dominated by a Big Man, someone who has attained power and influence through demonstrated ability and the acquisition and sharing of property. Although most Papua New Guinea microsocieties feel that important matters should be decided by consensus, it is the Big Man who shapes the consensus. In Port Moresby, these structures are hidden, but they do exist and are important. Members of Parliament and senior government officials at both national and provincial levels often are Big Men in their own microsocieties or are close relatives of Big Men. Women are traditionally expected to be subservient to their male relatives; to be seen and not heard. Fewer girls than boys attend school and the rate of literacy for women is lower than for men. Bride price, which traditionally cemented social obligations between families and clans, is frequently abused in the modern economy, particularly in areas where cash incomes are high. This makes it hard for young men to get wives legally and reduces marriage in some cases to the purchase of women. Nevertheless, with increased education and economic opportunity, the gap between male and female is slowly closing.

As in many other developing countries, there is a steady flow of economic migrants from the rural areas to Papua New Guinea's few cities. Jobs, particularly for those with little education, are generally not available, and basic needs, which in the village are either produced by the family or gathered from the forest, are expensive. Most rural migrants to the cities live in shanty towns, called "settlements", which have few, if any, public services and where crime breeds and criminals take refuge.

Crime is a serious problem in Port Moresby, and consists of everything from bag snatching and car jacking to armed robbery and rape. Much of the crime is committed by young men and boys who, if they have access to weapons, easily become violent. Widespread abuse of alcohol and marijuana aggravates the problem. Hijacking and highway robbery is common and makes road travel outside the towns dangerous. The Embassy security program, managed by the regional security officer, includes 24-hour security guards at all residences and the Chancery, burglar alarms in all homes, and incountry security training. The Embassy works closely and cooperatively with the police. Embassy employees find that while it is necessary to be alert and to be punctilious about taking basic precautions, it is possible to enjoy the city, the country and its people. The few criminals notwithstanding, there have been no incidents of terrorism in PNG. Nor is xenophobia, or racial or religious animosity common.

While Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are extremely interesting to visit, they are also isolated. Travel is difficult outside the main administrative centers and accommodations for travelers are limited outside the main urban centers. Most travel must be done by air and air fares are expensive.

In consideration of the hardship imposed by the crime threat, limited medical facilities and the isolation of Port Moresby, employees assigned to Port Moresby receive a 25% differential and are eligible for two R&R trips in a two-year tour. Personnel also receive a 5% cost-of-living adjustment.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Travel to Papua New Guinea is by air. The most direct route from the United States is via Sydney, Australia. United Airlines is the only American carrier that flies to Australia, although American Airlines also has a code share with Qantas. Transportation between Sydney and Port Moresby is available six days a week and between Cairns and Port Moresby seven days a week via Quantas and Air Nuigini. In order to make these connections it is usually necessary to overnight in Australia. Connections to Port Moresby are also available at least once a week by Air Niugini from Manila, Singapore Tokyo, and Honiara.

Mark airfreight, personally owned vehicles, and household effects as follows:

U.S. Ambassador United States Embassy Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (South Pacific) Your Name

The "South Pacific" is most important, otherwise your belongings may be delivered to Africa.

Household effects should be packed in standard size lift vans of sturdy plywood. Van interiors should be waterproofed. Customs clearance usually requires a minimum of five working days.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Diplomatic-list personnel are allowed unlimited duty-free shipment of household effects by sea and air. Technical personnel are allowed one shipment in each category within six months of arrival. With the exception of the Ambassador personnel may not import more than one vehicle duty free.

Normally, only right-hand-drive cars are imported into Papua New Guinea. A special exemption can be made to import and register left-hand-drive vehicles for Embassy personnel. Approval to do so takes from one to two months to obtain. Local regulation requires such vehicles to be marked on the left door and rear with the words "Left Hand Drive" in large letters. Left-hand drive vehicles cannot be sold in Papua New Guinea and must be junked or re-exported at the end of the owner's tour of duty.

Unaccompanied baggage takes about two to three weeks to reach Port Moresby by air from the United States. Surface shipments average 4 months in transit. Most surface shipments are trans-shipped at either Hong Kong, Singapore or Sydney. Customs clearance for household effects usually requires a minimum of five working days.

Plants cannot be imported into Papua New Guinea without prior permission of the Department of Agriculture. Certain plants are prohibited; packaged and sealed seeds must be submitted for inspection. However, flower and vegetable seeds are sold in Port Moresby, and nurseries, including the National Botanical Gardens, offer a wide range of plants at reasonable prices.

Passage Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Government of Papua New Guinea requires official travelers to obtain visas abroad before applying for entry to Papua New Guinea. In the United States, application should be made to the Embassy of Papua New Guinea, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 805, Washington, D.C. 20036 (Tel: (202) 745-3680; Fax: (202) 745-3679). Personnel assigned to Port Moresby should also obtain a multi-entry visa for Australia valid for the duration of their tour of duty. U.S. citizen TDY visitors transiting Australia to and from Port Moresby cadobtain electronic Australian visas through their carrier, but should ensure that they are issued multiple entry visas as well. No vaccinations are required of American citizens entering Papua New Guinea directly from the United States via Australia.

Pets Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Pets entering PNG require Papua New Guinean and Australian Entry Permits. The Australian quarantine rules are strict, and their quarantine service will not take pets from most developing countries unless they have been in an "approved country in which rabies is absent or well controlled" for at least six months. The United States is considered an "approved" country. Upon arrival into Australia, the pet is quarantined for at least 30 days. (Australian officials should be notified that the pet is being shipped to PNG.) When it is granted an entry permit the pet may be shipped to PNG. With the Australian entry permit, the PNG permit follows more easily after a two-day quarantine. A complete listing of Australian regulations and approved countries can be found on along with associated costs. Post can provide you with the Papua New Guinean regulations and a copy of the permit application. It costs $30 to apply and should be sent in 6 weeks before the animal is shipped.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Chief of Mission does not permit personnel or their dependents to import or possess firearms in Papua New Guinea.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

Papua New Guinean and American currency may be exchanged freely through the banks. The Papua New Guinea kina and toea (100 toea = 1 kina) are the only legal currency in the country. No restrictions are placed on the amount of currency a person can bring into Papua New Guinea. Travelers may not export more than K5,000 kina without special permission.

The exchange rate floats freely. In February 2002, the US$1 = K3.57. The Embassy provides currency exchange services for employees assigned to Port Moresby. Most employees maintain a local checking account (which include cash card services) to pay for local expenses. The accounts are convertible to dollars when the employee leaves Papua New Guinea. Personal checks verified by the Embassy and travelers' checks are negotiable at local banks.

Jackson's International Airport at Port Moresby has banking and exchange facilities. All persons, including those traveling on a diplomatic passport, are required to pay an airport facilities tax of K30.00 ($8.50). Most hotels, restaurants and shops patronized by Embassy personnel accept major U.S. credit cards. Papua New Guinea uses the metric system.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM


Prorated customs duty must be paid on cars or any other goods imported duty free if they are sold within two years.


The Embassy payroll is processed through RAMC at the American Embassy in Bangkok and paid from the United States. Employees must have paychecks deposited directly to a U.S. bank. The Embassy provides accommodation exchange at the daily authorized rate of exchange. Employee may also cash personal dollar checks, verified by the Embassy, at their local bank.

Since mail is at least two weeks in transit in either direction between the United States and Papua New Guinea, many employees arrange for automatic payment of monthly obligations, like mortgage payments or insurance premiums, through their U.S. checking account to avoid penalties for late payment.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Some of the books listed below are no longer in print. However, the Embassy library has an extensive collection of books on Papua New Guinea for the use of Embassy personnel.

Books Beehler, Bruce M. A Naturalist in New Guinea. University of Texas Press: Austin, 1991.

Connolly, Bob and Robin Anderson. First Contact. Viking Penguin: New York, 1987.

Dorney, Sean. Papua New Guinea: People, Politics, and History Since 1975. Random House Australia: Sydney, 2000.

Dorney, Sean. The Sandline Affair. ABC Books: Sydney, 1998.

Dutton, Geoffrey. Queen Emma of the South Pacific. St. Martins Press: New York, 1977.

Flannery, Tim. Throwim Way Leg. Tree Kangaroos, Possums and Penis Gourds: On the Track of Unknown Mammals in Wildest New Guinea. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998.

Howlett, Diana R. Papua New Guinea: Geography and Change. Thomas Nelson: Melbourne, 1973.

Kiki, Albert Maori. Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime. Cheshire Paperback: Melbourne, 1970

Lindstrom, Lamont and Geoffrey M. White. Island Encounters. Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, 1990.

Lipscomb, Adrian, Rowan McKinnon and Jon Murray. Papua New Guinea. 6th Ed. Lonely Planet Publications: Hawthorn, Australia, 1998.

Matane, Paulias. My Childhood in New Guinea. Oxford University Press: London, 1972.

Mead, Margaret. Growing Up in New Guinea. Morrow: New York, 1976.

Siaguru, Anthony. In-House in Papua New Guinea with Anthony Siaguru. Asia Pacific Press: Canberra, 2001.

Somare, Michael. Sana, An Autobiography. Niugini Press Pty. Ltd: Port Moresby, 1975.

Thompson, Herb and Scott MacWilliam. The Political Economy of Papua New Guinea. Journal of Contemporary Asia: Manila, 1992.

Tree, Isabella. Island in the Clouds. Lonely Planet Publications: Hawthorn, Australia, 1996.

Waiko, John Dademo. A Short History of Papua New Guinea. Oxford University Press Australia: Melbourne, 1998.

Video Tapes Anderson, Robin and Bob Connolly. First Contact. Pacific Video Casette Series No. 1. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies: Port Moresby

Anderson, Robin and Bob Connolly. Joe Leahy’s Neighbours. Pacific Video Cassette Series No. 19. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies: Port Moresby.

Anderson, Robin and Bob Connolly. Black Harvest. Pacific Video Cassette Series No. 25. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies: Port Moresby.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM

The Embassy, together with all banks and government offices, is closed on these days:

New Year’s Day January 1 Good Friday Varies Easter Monday Varies Queen’s Birthday June 12 Remembrance Day July 23 Independence Day September 16 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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