Papua New Guinea Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Papua New Guinea?


Papua New Guinea lies in the southwest Pacific, just south of the equator and about 100 miles northeast of Australia. The largest of the Pacific Island nations, it includes the eastern half of the island of New Guinea which it shares with Indonesia and numerous offshore islands, the largest of which are New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, and Manus. Their combined surface area is 286,248 square miles.

The main island comprises 85% of Papua New Guinea’s total land area. A complex system of mountains extends from the eastern end of the islands to the western boundary with the Indonesian province of Papua. Precipitous slopes, knife‑sharp ridges, great outcroppings of mountains rising to heights of almost 15,000 feet, and broad upland valleys at altitudes of 5,000–10,000 feet characterize this area. Most of the terrain is covered by dense jungles of tropical rain forest. Large rivers forming the world’s twelfth largest riverine network flow to the south, north and east; few are navigable except by small boats in the lower reaches. The largest river, the Fly, which begins in the mountains of western Papua, flows over 700 miles, and can be navigated for 500 miles.

Between the northern and the central range of mountains lies the Central Depression, which contains the Sepik, Ramu, and Markham River valleys. Lowlands and rolling foothills of varying widths stretch along most of the coasts. Huge tracts of wetlands are common in the poorly‑drained coastal areas. On the southwest littoral, the great delta plain of the Daru coast forms one of the world’s most extensive swamps, exceeding 100,000 square miles.

The archipelagic areas of Papua New Guinea include three major islands—New Britain, New Ireland, and Bougainville—as well as a great variety of smaller, often very isolated island groups. The islands contain many volcanoes, both active and dormant; rich agricultural zones; and considerable mineral wealth. Thousands of coral reefs make the surrounding waters a mecca for marine biologists and scuba divers, while several of the smaller island groups, including the Trobriands and Manus Island, were the sites of classic anthropological studies.

Geography - note

shares island of New Guinea with Indonesia; one of world's largest swamps along southwest coast

Papua New Guinea Use of Natural Resources

Geographic Location Oceania
Total Area 178,703 Square Miles
462,840 Square Kilometers
Land Area 174,849 Square Miles
452,860 Square Kilometers
Water Area 3,853 Square Miles
9,980 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 510 Miles
820 Kilometers
Border Countries Indonesia 820 km
Coastline 3,201 Miles
5,152 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 6 00 S, 147 00 E
Terrain mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills
Highest Point 4,509 Meters
Highest Point Location Mount Wilhelm 4,509 m
Lowest Point Location Pacific Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources gold, copper, silver, natural gas, timber, oil, fisheries
Time Zone UTC+10 (15 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

time zone note: Papua New Guinea has two time zones, including Bougainville (UTC+11)
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