Cruising in Papua New Guinea


The eastern half of the island of New Guinea - second largest in the world - was divided between Germany (north) and the UK (south) in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia in 1902, which occupied the northern portion during World War I and continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975. A nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville ended in 1997 after claiming some 20,000 lives.


Location: Oceania, group of islands including the eastern half of the island of New Guinea between the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia
Geographic coordinates: 6 00 S, 147 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: 462,840 sq km


5,152 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; northwest monsoon (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October); slight seasonal temperature variation


mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Mount Wilhelm 4,509 m


Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 85% of the population. Mineral deposits, including oil, copper, and gold, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings.

The economy has improved over the past three years because of high commodity prices following a prolonged period of instability. The government of Prime Minister SOMARE has expended much of its energy remaining in power and should be the first government in decades to serve a full five-year term. The government has also brought stability to the national budget thus far, largely through expenditure control.

Numerous challenges still face the government including regaining investor confidence, restoring integrity to state institutions, promoting economic efficiency by privatizing moribund state institutions, and balancing relations with Australia, the former colonial ruler. Other socio-cultural challenges include the HIV/Aids epidemic, law and order, and land tenure issues. Australia annually supplies $240 million in aid, which accounts for nearly 20% of the national budget.


Airports: 572 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 21
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 551
Heliports: 2 (2005)
Pipelines: oil 264 km (2004)
Roadways: total: 19,600 km


10,940 km (2003)

Merchant marine

Total: 23 ships (1000 GRT or over) 49,261 GRT/64,988 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 18, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
Foreign-owned: 6 (UK 6) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Kimbe, Lae, Rabaul

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

American Samoa - Australia - Cook Island - Easter Islands (Chile) - Federation of Micronesia - Fiji - Guam - USA (Hawaii)  - Kiribati - Marshall Islands - Nauru - New Caledonia - New Zealand - Niue - Norfolk Island - Northern Mariana Islands - Palau - Papua New Guinea - Pitcairn Island - Samoa - Solomon Island - Tokelau - Tonga - Tuvalu - Vanuatu - Wallis and Futuna

Further Reading

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