Papua New Guinea Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Papua New Guinea Country Overview

Where is Papua New Guinea located? The island nation of Papua New Guinea is one of the largest in the world. Because of its location in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea is included in Australia. The time zone map indicates that Papua New Guinea is located in a world time zone called “Papua New Guinea Time” where there is a time difference of 10 hours from Coordinated Universal Time. Clocks there are 10 hours ahead of the world clock (UTC+10). This difference does not change throughout the year because there is no changeover to daylight saving time.

Papua New Guinea National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Papua New Guinea is 7,259,456, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 7,259,456
Population growth rate 1.60%
Birth rate 23.70 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall life expectancy 66.66 years
Men life expectancy 64.44 years
Women life expectancy 69.00 years
Age structure
0-14 years 32.94%
15-64 years 62.66%
65 years and above 4.40%
Median age 22.60 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.05
Population density 15.68 residents per km²
Urbanization 13.20%
approx. 750 ethnic groups: mainly Papua; Malays, Melanesians, Micronesians; Chinese minority
Catholics (Roman Catholic) 22%, Lutheran 16%, Presbyterians / Methodists / London Missionary Society 8%, Anglicans 5%, Evangelical Alliance 4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1%, Other Protestants 10%, Indigenous religions 34%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.543
HDI ranking 155th out of 194

People in Papua New Guinea

A large part of the population are Melanesians and are referred to as “Papuans”. More than 700 tribes belong to the Papuans. The name comes from a Portuguese navigator who named the island’s residents after their frizzy hair in 1526. “Papu-Wah” is Malay and means “frizzy hair”. Other residents are Malays, Chinese and the descendants of Europeans.

Most of the people live in the plateaus of the country, in the south around the Gulf of Papua and on the northern islands. The country’s population density is very low. The largest city is the capital Port Moresby. Some people migrate towards the cities, but only 20 out of 100 live in a city.

Languages in Papua New Guinea

Although the country’s official language is English, only two out of 100 residents speak English. Then there is Motu, which only a few people speak. Papua New Guinea has the greatest linguistic diversity of all countries in the world, you will hear over 800 languages ​​here.

But how can people even communicate there? The most important language in Papua New Guinea is the so-called Tok Pisin. It’s a mixture of simple English and Melanesian words.

Religions in Papua New Guinea

The missionaries in Papua New Guinea converted large parts of the population to Christianity. Today most of the residents are either Roman Catholic or Protestant, and there are a few other churches, mostly of Christian origin. The original religions were banned, including their traditions. Only the music still bears witness to the many rituals that shaped the way people lived together. Music is still made today at many village festivals.