Papua New Guinea encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea.
The island is approx. 785 000 km 2 and separated
from Australia by the Torres Strait and Lake Arafura.
Islands and atolls
To the north and northeast of New Guinea lies the
Bismarck Archipelago with, among others, the islands of
Manus, New Ireland, New Britai n, and the smaller
neighboring archipelagos (including the Schouten Islands,
Manam, Karkar, Bagabag, Western Islands and others). These
islands are part of the so-called Pacific Aging and
are mainly volcanic, part with active volcanoes (including
Manam and several in New Britain). In the east/southeast
are a number of smaller archipelagos, mainly consisting of
atolls. This area is called Massim and among the
archipelagos here are the Trobriander Islands (also known as
the Kiriwina Islands). Papua New Guinea also includes the
northernmost of the Solomon Islands.
The largest islands are New Britain, New Ireland and
Bougainville. These islands are almost as mountainous as New
Guinea, with many mountain peaks over 2000 meters above sea
level. The highest mountain in the country is Mount Wilhelm,
4509 meters above sea level.
Gold and copper are extracted on the island of
Bougainville, among others. There is also a copper bed in
the Star Mountains.
Wildlife in New Guinea
Animal geography belongs to New Guinea in the Australian
region and has many similarities to Australia's fauna.
Sewage animals are represented by Australian echidnas and
significantly larger langsnutet echidnas. The 55 marsupial
species belong to the families of predators, marsupials,
climbing marsupials and kangaroos. The mammalian fauna also
includes 70 bat species and more than 50 rodent species,
while sambar deer are imported from Indonesia. Dugong and
some small toothed whales occur in coastal waters.
600 bird species nest on the island and as many as 330
are endemic. In addition, 150 species act as migratory or
migratory guests from Asia and Australia. Characteristic
families, which are also endemic to the region, are:
cashiers, furnace chickens, gardeners (deciduous birds),
paradise birds and crows. Pigeons, parrots, cuckoos,
icebergs and honey eaters are especially richly represented.
There are many reptile species: Delta and New Guinea
crocodiles, turtles, geckos, hams, agams and varieties.
Among the snake snakes are both buoys and pythons. The
dreaded Taipan is an example of the many poison snakes. The
fauna of invertebrates are diverse, including onychophora,
leeches and large butterflies (bird wings, Coscinocera
Geography and environment
The island of New Guinea together with Australia is part
of the Sahul landmass. During the Pleistocene era, the sea
level was lower, and the two land masses were connected as a
continent before being separated by the Torres Strait about
10,000 years ago as the sea level rose. The eastern part of
the island of New Guinea is the largest part of Papua New
Guinea's land area.
The border with the Indonesian part of the island follows
the 141st longitude, except for a stretch of about 80 km
where it follows the Fly River in a turn west. Around 75
percent of the country is covered by rainforest, and a
mountain range extends through the country with Mount
Wilhelm at 4509 meters above sea level as the highest peak.
In the higher-lying regions is the region of Highlands,
where the most densely populated areas of the country are.
Several large rivers form extensive deltas in the lowland
areas along the coast, of which 1050 kilometers in length
and 1126 kilometers in Sepik are the most important.
North and northeast of New Guinea lies the Bismarck
Archipelago. In the east/southeast are a number of smaller
archipelagos, mainly consisting of atolls. Papua New Guinea
also includes the northernmost of the Solomon Islands, with
Bougainville being the largest.
91 percent of the rainforest that covers most of Papua
New Guinea's mainland is primary forest and home to a unique
plant and animal life. The island of New Guinea represents
only 0.5 per cent of the world's land area, but has 5-10 per
cent of the world's biodiversity. The species is more
closely related to the Australian than the Asian. There are
1571 known species of amphibians, mammals, reptiles and
birds. Of these, 25.6 percent are endemic and 7 percent are
endangered. Every year new species of vertebrates, insects
and plants are discovered. Known mammals include tree gurus
and other tree climbing marsupials. The bird of paradise is
a widely used symbol in the country, both in flags, national
weapons and in the national airline's logo. The world's
largest butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae, Queen
Alexandra's bird wing) has its habitat in Oro Province, but
it is threatened by timber logs and palm oil plantations. In
the coastal and marine areas there are unique coral reefs
and a great variety of fish and other marine animals.