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Papua New Guinea, an island country in the western Pacific, gained independence from Australia in 1975. An abundance of minerals and petroleum brightens the outlook for this tropical nation, comprising eastern New Guinea and many small islands—including Bougainville and the Bismarck Archipelago. A patchwork of mountains, jungles, and swamplands, the country is home to some 700 Papuan and Melanesian tribes, each with its own language. Most of the inhabitants are subsistence farmers, although some grow cash crops.
Capital: Port Moresby; 275,000
Area: 462,840 square kilometres (178,703 square miles)
Language: 715 indigenous languages
Religion: Protestant, indigenous beliefs, Roman Catholic
Life Expectancy: 57
GDP per Capita: U.S. $2,100
Literacy Percent: 66
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