Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from Australian-administered UN trusteeship in 1975.
Head of state:
Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Governor-General Michael Ogio since 2010.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill since 2011.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. Australian-style plugs with three angled flat pins are used. Some hotels provide 110-volt outlets.
Papua New Guinea is a fascinating country where travellers can explore remote villages, spectacular diving, stunning wildlife, scenic surfing and myriad cultures.
The tribal diversity of a country with over 700 languages and 600 islands cannot easily be summarised, although in Papua New Guinea it is the tribal life that is most fascinating to the visitor. There are many unique attractions, excursions and activities on offer, from discovering wrecks of WWII aircraft that lie in the jungle to peeking inside the sacred wooden haus tambarans (spirit houses) of towns and villages in the country.
One of the largest draws for those visiting Papua New Guinea is the country's extensive wildlife and unique ecosystem. From the mountainous highlands to the Evian-blue waters, travellers can expect to discover weird and wonderful creatures, from tree-climbing kangaroos to spectacular birds of paradise. Most of the country remains undeveloped, with the largest island of Bouganville staying away from resort hotels and commercialisation - ideal for the independent traveller.
Last updated: 22 September 2014
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
On 29 August 2014, a volcanic eruption occurred at Mount Tavurvur in Rabaul district, East New Britain. Authorities have evacuated communities close to the volcano and residents of Rabaul town have been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash.
You should monitor local reports for latest information on the volcano and follow the instructions of local authorities. Information is available on the website of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.
The situation at Wutung on the border with Indonesia remains tense following recent clashes between the OPM (Free Papua Movement) and the Indonesian authorities. There have been reports that the Indonesian military and the OPM have been engaging in gun battles. In response the Papua New Guinean government has strengthened its defence units at its Wutung border post. You should take extreme care and be prepared for possible sudden closure of the border crossing.
Papua New Guinea is prone to seasonal natural disasters including tropical cyclones and flash flooding. On 10 April 2014, Tropical Cyclone Ita crossed the south eastern coast of Papua New Guinea causing localised flooding and damage to properties in the Milne Bay and Oro Provinces.
There is a high level of serious crime. Law and order is poor or very poor in many parts of the country. Pay close attention to your personal security, particularly after dark, and monitor the media for possible new security risks. See Crime and Local Travel
Carjacking is an ever present threat, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Lock car doors and keep windows up at all times. If possible travel in convoy after dark.
Outbreaks of tribal fighting can occur and may escalate quickly. You should avoid large crowds and public gatherings as they may turn violent.
There is a low threat from terrorism.
5,000 British nationals visited Papua New Guinea in 2012. Most visits are trouble free.