Planning your elective - Papua New Guinea
Stephen Ford and Mark Wilson discuss the people, culture, medical problems, and contacts in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea's variety belies its small population. Ethnically, it is a transition zone between the Pacific, Australasia, and the Indonesian archipelago. This amazing fusion produced around 800 different ethnic groups, each with their own language. The ethnic groups are known as wantok (“one talk”), and wantok forms a major part in the formation of personal and corporate identity. Geographically, the country is also highly varied, with some of the highest mountains in Asia, mighty rivers, swamps, humid coasts, and tropical islands.
The major cities of Port Moresby and Lae are unattractive and have significant crime problems. Girls should take particular care if alone. Some of the larger highland cities are also going the same way, although yearly festivals (sing-sings) are a cultural delight. Papua New Guinea is also noted for its diving, having beautiful coral and many maritime wrecks from the second world war in shallow waters.