Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Use Normal Level of Caution

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a group of islands that lie in the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. The country is comprised of the eastern half of New Guinea along with offshore islands in Melanesia and has a population of about 6.5 million people. The government is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The chief of state is the Queen of the United Kingdom, represented by a governor. The head of government is a prime minister.

Archeologists believe that the first human inhabitants of Papua New Guinea arrived about 45,000 years ago.

During World War I and up to independence in 1975, Australia administered Papua New Guinea. Australia still maintains close ties and provides aid and peacekeeping forces.

Papua New Guinea has a high level of violence and crime and also has been criticized for human rights violations. In 2012, the country was rated as having the highest level of government corruption. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, volcanic activity, earthquakes and sometimes tsunamis are somewhat common.

The tourism industry in Papua New Guinea is developing and the tourism infrastructure is growing. This country has many attractions for travellers, such as the unspoiled natural beauty, vibrant culture with more than 800 indigenous languages, markets, festivals, water sports and hiking.

Currency PGK: Papua New Guinean kina
Language Hiri Motu; Tok Pisin; English
Capital Port Moresby
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Papua New Guinea. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Papua New Guinea through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Papua New Guinea.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Papua New Guinea, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in Papua New Guinea. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Malaria

There is a high risk of Papua New Guinea below 2,000 meters.

Chikungunya Fever

Outbreaks of chikungunya fever may occur.

Dengue Fever

Outbreaks of dengue fever may occur.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in Papua New Guinea. Travellers to Papua New Guinea are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Japanese encephalitis

All areas are affected except the mountainous regions. The transmission season may be year round.

Cholera

Cholera outbreaks occur in Papua New Guinea. The risk to travellers is low unless living or working in poor sanitary conditions, drinking untreated water or eating poorly cooked or raw seafood in this country.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Papua New Guinea.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

Short-term travellers and those who restrict their visits to urban areas are at very low risk. Those at higher risk are travellers who visit or work in rural agricultural areas such as rice fields and marshland. Long-term travellers and expatriates are also at higher risk. Vaccination is recommended for persons at higher risk.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Papua New Guinea.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Rrecommended anti-malaria medication for areas where malaria is a risk is doxycycline, mefloquine or atovaquone/proguanil. Chloroquine resistance is widespread.

Safety and Security in Papua New Guinea

Emergency Numbers

111

Personal Safety

There is a high rate of serious crime in Papua New Guinea and lack of law and order in some parts of the country, mainly due to tensions between various ethnic groups, which can lead to community-based violence. Violent crime does occur and some thieves use machetes or guns. However, most travellers to this county do not experience trouble, and tourists are not usually targeted. You are at greater risk if travelling alone.

With respect to your personal safety, be cautious and always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport. Do not walk after dark, particularly in Port Moresby, Mount Hagen, Lae, Goroka, and other urban areas. Avoid any squatter or settlement areas in cities.

Exercise extreme caution at banks and cash machines.

Carjacking is a risk and does occur, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Always keep car doors locked and windows up. Avoid travel by road after dark. If you must travel after dark, travel in a convoy or with a security escort. Many roads are in poor condition.

The safest way to travel in Papua New Guinea is with a reputable tour operator.

Avoid using Public Motor Vehicles (PMV’s), which are local taxis or buses due to poor maintenance, and also criminal activity. Travel by taxi or by transportation arranged by the hotel is safer and preferable.

Rape and sexual assault are problems in this country, and there have been reports of foreigners being targeted. Women should be particularly cautious and not travel alone in this country.

If you plan to hike trails in PNG, travel with a guide through a reputable tour company. Parts of the trail can be closed due to land disputes, and attacks against hikers have occurred on trails. A group of hikers were attacked on the Black Cat Track in Morobe Province in September 2013 with two people left dead and several injured. Hikers will need a valid trekking permit.

Areas To Avoid

High-risk areas include:

The highway between Lae and Nadzab Airport, especially between Kainantu and Goroka, is an area where criminals have been known to set up roadblocks to attack and rob vehicles. The area around Parliament House in Port Moresby is particularly unsafe, especially after working hours.

The border area with Indonesia is dangerous due to armed conflict between the Free Papua Movement and Indonesian military. The Wutung border post can be closed without warning. Porgera Township in Enga Province in the northern highlands has seen violence related to illegal mining. A state of emergency has been in effect indefinitely since May 2014.

Violent incidents have been reported in central and southern Bougainville, Lae, The Highlands, and Oro Province. Safety and security in Bougainville has improved, but the old Panguna mine remains off limits. If you are there without proper authorization, your passport can be confiscated.

Political Unrest

There are tensions between ethnic or clan groups throughout the country. Violence involving weapons can break out unexpectedly between groups and lead to general lawlessness. This violence has occurred in settlement areas and marketplaces in various urban areas.

To minimize risk, check with local enforcement officials and local media for new developments of civil unrest or conflict before travelling to a new area.

Always avoid large gatherings or demonstrations, as they have turned violent in the past.

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