The People, Language, and Religion

Papua New Guineans, most of whom are Melanesians, vary widely in their physical, ethnic and cultural characteristics. Papua New Guinea is, in fact, the most heterogeneous country in the world.

Papau New Guinea VillagerThe centuries old heritage of Melanesian society maintains a strong influence over most of the population. Long before the concept of democracy was established in Europe, Papua New Guinea communities were reaching decisions by consensus and not by the dictates of the most powerful member of the village. This concept of democratic consensus in decision-making is evident in most aspects of today's society.

The Papua New Guinean attitude to the land is also very different from many other countries. Land is not a commodity that can be bought and sold by individuals - it is a permanent and integral part of a village community. Land is owned and maintained by generations of clans. Although they cannot sell the land, individuals can hand over their own usage rights.

About two-thirds of the population are Christians, Catholicism being the largest denomination in the country.

Copyright © 2004 Embassy of Papua New Guinea to the Americas and Globescope, Inc.
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