Papua New Guinea is located 160 km north of Australia, south of the equator. With a total land mass of around 462,840 square kilometers, the country comprises of the eastern side of New Guinea Island along with 600 islands, atolls and coral reefs. The Owen Stanley Range, a central ridge of mountains, runs from east to west.
The landscape is extremely varied and features jungle-covered mountains, white sandy beaches, volcanoes and the largest sections of intact rainforest. The country has 4 regions (Highlands, Islands, Momase, and Papua), further divided into 22 provinces. Each region tends to be distinct in character and culture. The striking natural beauty and countless complex cultural communities make Papua New Guinea an exciting destination.
The population totals almost 7 million; whilst around 80% of people live in rural areas, there has been a drift towards urban centers such as the main town of Port Moresby in recent years. The country is extremely linguistically diverse, with more than 800 languages spoken. Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu are the two most widely used, although English is the official language within education, business, and government.
Part of the British Empire in the late 19th century, Papua New Guinea was then administered by Australia until 1975, when the country gained peaceful independence. These strong ties with Australia remain today.
Papua New Guinea’s climate is tropical, with its coastal plains experiencing an average temperature of 28°C, the inlands and mountains averaging 26°C and higher mountains averaging 23°C. Whilst humidity is high (70-90%), the main weather variable is rainfall. Linked to monsoons, the dry season is generally from June-September and the wet season is from December-March, with the western and northern parts of the country experiencing the most rain.
Weather conditions can be much localized, making it difficult to distinguish the seasons; most visitors take their vacations in Papua New Guinea between April and October.
The best means of transportation to Papua New Guinea for expatriates planning to relocate is by air. Jackson International Airport is situated 8 km outside of the capital Port Moresby, and is the official gateway welcoming foreigners to Papua New Guinea. Both international and domestic flights arrive and depart from here, so the airport acts as a hub for connecting journeys. Most expatriates traveling from Europe, the USA, or Canada to Papua New Guinea choose to fly via Australia, although there are also options to travel via Singapore, Hong Kong, or Tokyo.
There are three primary airlines operating in Papua New Guinea. Air Niugini transports passengers from, amongst other places, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Brisbane, Cairns and Hong Kong. Airlines PNG runs a comprehensive domestic network, and Qantaslink (a regional brand of Qantas) operates between Papua New Guinea and Cairns.