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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Gasoline currently costs approximately $2.12 per gallon. Vehicle
repairs and service are expensive, often slow, and the quality of
work is uneven. All sales outlets service the brands they sell, but
repairs on cars not sold in Port Moresby can be hard to obtain.
Considerable delay and expense can be incurred if spare parts must
Four-wheel drive vehicles are not necessary for driving in Port
Moresby. However, those without four-wheel drive are more prone to
tire and wheel damage due to the poor condition of the roads during
the wet season. Bicycles are not practical due to the extremely
hilly terrain, narrow roads and careless drivers.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/1999 6:00 PM
Use of a private car is essential in Port Moresby. No adequate,
reliable public transportation system exists. Public Motor Vehicles
(PMV's - small buses or 15passenger vans) offer unscheduled daytime
service for 50 toea ($.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
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
Embassy numbers are: Telephone: (675) 321-1455 After Hours (duty
officer): (675) 693-7943 Fax: (675) 321-3423 (Front Office); (675)
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
Department of State 4240 Port Moresby Pl. Washington, D.C.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.dpie.gov.au/docs/uarantine/animal.html
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
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
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
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
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,
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:
Anderson, Robin and Bob Connolly. Black Harvest. Pacific Video
Cassette Series No. 25. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies: Port
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