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State structure

Papua New Guinea is both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The British Queen is the head of state. She is represented by the Governor-General, who is elected by Parliament and mainly performs ceremonial duties.

Papua New Guinea has three levels of government: national, provincial and local. The national level has the most say.

The Parliament has 109 members who are elected by direct suffrage every five years. The Parliament elects the Prime Minister who then forms a Cabinet from members of his party or the government coalition.

Members of parliament are elected on the basis of a district system from 19 provinces and the district of the capital Port Moresby. Since 1995, reforms have been made to centralise the electoral system.


Papua New Guinea has a free press, an independent judicial system and a commission that is mainly concerned with investigating corruption. The electoral and party system reflects the large fragmentation of society, which is characterised by 700 language groups in a population of 5.3 million. Social and political relationships run along corresponding kinship lines, which entails the danger of clientelism. Central government authority is relatively weak.

Since independence in 1975, domestic politics have been beset by instability and corruption, which affect the effectiveness of the political system. Furthermore, Papua New Guinea's governments have resigned several times after parliament passed a vote of no confidence. In order to increase the stability of the government, the parliament is no longer able to remove the government in the first 18 and the last 12 months of the parliamentary term, under the current legislation. In 2002, the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates was adopted, which aims to prevent parliamentarians from changing parties after their election.

World Bank indicators paint a worrying picture. In the areas of political stability, rule of law, government effectiveness and control of corruption, the figures are lower than both the regional averages of East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and the averages of low-middle income countries. Economic and social development are severely hampered by this.

The current political situation is described in the history section.


Over 85% of the population depends on agriculture, forestry and fishing for their livelihood. Employment is provided by mining, a small industry in terms of employment (3% of total employment), government and the service sector.

Economic growth depends mainly on mineral and petroleum exports. Illegal logging leads to worrying attacks on the environment and destruction of biodiversity.

After years of contraction, the economy grew from 2003 onwards. GDP growth was 2.5%) in 2017 due to higher international commodity prices. Other macro economic figures were also favourable: employment in the formal sector grew, inflation fell from 20% in March 2003 to around 3%. GDP per capita is $3,700 per year (2017).

The top priority of government policy is to reduce the budget deficit. A budget deficit of many years has led to a high level of public debt. For the future, gas exploitation and the plan to build a gas pipeline to Australia are important. China and Japan are also interested in Papua New Guinea's resources.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated April 2024
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