Why is Papua New Guinea such a mess? 2023 Guide

There are a lot of countries that are in real dire straits, the problem is you will not hear about it because they are our allies, with PNG being case in point. So, why is Papua New Guinea such a mess?

To read about the Solomon Islands click here.

A background to why Papua New Guinea is such a mess

Formerly split between German and British colonies, Papua and New Guinea came under British control, before all but becoming an Australian colony. This had some benefits for the region, such as the introduction of Rugby League, but sadly little else.

It remained a colony until the 1970’s, before a nascent independence movement formed. The peaceful movement pushed for the independence of Papua New Guinea, the big question though was does Papua New Guinea even exist?

One of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, much of it was full of unconnected [people until as late as the 1970’s, with there being almost as many untouched people here as in South America.

This has meant that the country is extremely ethnically linguistically and culturally diverse, with even the national language being a pidgin of English.

Why is Papua New Guinea such as mess – independence to now

Why is Papua New Guinea such a mess? Essentially from the get-go everything political in the country has been marked by two things, tribal loyalty and severe corruption. 

Elections are voted. For on tribal lines, with people having their houses set on fire if they vote the wrong way and most elections being marred with immense violence. 

This combined with a forced capitalistic system put in place led to the obvious, a centralized rich elite not ready to share its wealth, or power and thus a underprivileged class of people lacking even basic necessities, all supported by the west as vanguard against either communism, or more recently the threat of an ever-expanding China.

And the ethnic differences would eventually lead to civil war, with Bouganville, a resource rich area, with huge western interests fighting for independence, which it may achieve in 2027 despite the best efforts of Papua New Guinea and its western allies.

Why is Papua New Guinea such a mess in 2023?

These factors combined have thrust a capitalist system on essentially tribal people, with Papua New Guinea having the highest percentage of rural people in the world, at 88 percent of the population.

The problem with this is that all the money is held by the few in Port Moresby, simultaneously the political capital, as well as the most dangerous country on earth.

Why is POM (as the locals call it) so dangerous? Essentially while there are literally no roads to the city poor families save up enough money to send sons to the city in search of fortune, only for them to arrive and become a member of the Rascals, a loose knit gang system within the country. Why do they join gangs? Because there is simply no work, with the unemployment rate in Port Moresby being as high as 90 percent, depending on which metric you use.

Yes, there is money here, but no one wants too share it. This has also led to another “high” for the country, more people get raped in PNG than any other country on earth. Why this happens can be explained in many ways, but while there are many NGO’s trying to do good work on the matter, governments essentially ignore the matter, so long as Papua New Guinea toes the line and stays loyal.

Sadly when governments do intervene it is usually from a western standpoint, with things like gay and trans-rights trumping the statistic that up to 40 percent of men have committed rape, while as many as 70 percent oof women have suffered some form of sexual violence.

Another factor that has spurred this and again why Papua New Guinea is such a mess goes back to the tribal elements, lack of money and gangs. In past times men would go to another village and kill a pig as a way of initiation, pigs have now been replaced by women in urban areas such as Port Moresby according to some studies.

There is no such country as Papua New Guinea

And thus then roots lay in the fact that there is no such country as Papua New Guinea, instead it is a collection of tribes that colonialism deemed a country. At the top of this pile now sits a capitalistic elite who are guided by clan and tribe, rather than any form of nationalism.

To read if Papua New Guinea is safe click here

In this prism there is no need to make your country better because you yourself do not even feel Papua New Guinean. I posed this question to a female associate in the country, who despite her status was in the unenviable 70 percent bracket who simply said “Papua New Guinea is a passport and a Rugby team, no one here would ever describe their nationality or affinity as being with PNG”.

And Papua New Guinea will remain such a mess, particularly as Cold War Two goes into overdrive and when it is more important to keep PNG as an ally, rather than risk it going to China like the Solomon Islands did.

And the ruling elute know this only to well and are more than happy to flirt with China if it means clinging on to power.