Government of Papua New Guinea: Branches, Military, International Issues

Home | Category: Government, Economics and Agriculture


Papua New Guinea is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Names of Country: Official Name: Independent State of Papua New Guinea; conventional short form: Papua New Guinea; local short form: Papuaniugini; former: German New Guinea, British New Guinea, Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Abbreviation: PNG. The word "papua" derives from the Malay "papuah" describing the frizzy hair of the Melanesians; Spanish explorer Ynigo ORTIZ de RETEZ applied the term "Nueva Guinea" to the island of New Guinea in 1545 after noting the resemblance of the locals to the peoples of the Guinea coast of Africa. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Capital: Port Moresby: Geographic Coordinates: 9 27 S, 147 11 E.

Administrative Divisions: 20 provinces, 1 autonomous region*, and 1 district*; Bougainville, Central, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, East Sepik, Enga, Gulf, Hela, Jiwaka, Madang, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, National Capital**, New Ireland, Northern, Southern Highlands, Western, Western Highlands, West New Britain, West Sepik. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Independence: 16 September 1975 (from the Australia-administered UN trusteeship). National Holiday: Independence Day, 16 September (1975).

National Symbols of Papua New Guinea

Flag: divided diagonally from upper hoist-side corner; the upper triangle is red with a soaring yellow bird of paradise centered; the lower triangle is black with five, white, five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross constellation centered; red, black, and yellow are traditional colors of Papua New Guinea; the bird of paradise: endemic to the island of New Guinea: is an emblem of regional tribal culture and represents the emergence of Papua New Guinea as a nation; the Southern Cross, visible in the night sky, symbolizes Papua New Guinea's connection with Australia and several other countries in the South Pacific. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

National Symbols: bird of paradise; national colors: red, black

National Anthem: name: "O Arise All You Sons", lyrics/music: Thomas SHACKLADY. note: adopted 1975

Constitution and Legal System

Constitution: adopted 15 August 1975, effective at independence 16 September 1975. Amendments: proposed by the National Parliament; passage has prescribed majority vote requirements depending on the constitutional sections being amended – absolute majority, two-thirds majority, or three-fourths majority; amended many times, last in 2016. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Legal System: mixed legal system of English common law and customary law. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

International Law Organization Participation: has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt.

Citizenship: Citizenship by Birth: no; Citizenship by Descent Only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Papua New Guinea; Dual Citizenship Recognized: no; Residency Requirement for Naturalization: 8 years. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Executive Branch of Papua New Guinea

Chief of State: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor General Grand Chief Sir Bob DADAE (since 28 February 2017). [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Head of Government: Prime Minister James MARAPE (since 30 May 2019); Deputy Prime Minister John ROSSO (since 25 May 2022).

Cabinet: National Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister.

Executive Branch Elections and Appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general nominated by the National Parliament and appointed by the chief of state; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general pending the outcome of a National Parliament vote

Results of the Last Election: James MARAPE re-elected prime minister; National Parliament vote: 105 out of 118. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Legislative Branch of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a unicameral National Parliament (118 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies: 89 local, 20 provincial, the autonomous province of Bouganville, and the National Capital District: by majority preferential vote; members serve 5-year terms); note: the constitution allows up to 126 seats

The last legislative election was held on held from 4-22 July 2022 (next to be held in June 2027)

Results of the Last Legislative Election (percent of vote by party): NA; seats by party: PANGU PATI: 38, PNC: 17, URP: 11, NAP: 5, PNC: 4, SDP: 4, PFP: 3, ULP: 3, Advance PNG: 2, National Party: 2, AP: 1, Destiny Party: 1, Greens: 1, Liberal Party: 1, MAP: 1, NGP: 1, ODP: 1, PLP: 1, PMC: 1, PPP: 1, PRP: 1, THE: 1, independents: 9; composition: NA

Judicial Branch of Papua New Guinea

Highest Court: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice, deputy chief justice, 35 justices, and 5 acting justices); National Courts (consists of 13 courts located in the provincial capitals, with a total of 19 resident judges)

Judge Selection and Term of Office for the Highest Court: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the governor general upon advice of the National Executive Council (cabinet) after consultation with the National Justice Administration minister; deputy chief justice and other justices appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, a 5-member body that includes the Supreme Court chief and deputy chief justices, the chief ombudsman, and a member of the National Parliament; full-time citizen judges appointed for 10-year renewable terms; non-citizen judges initially appointed for 3-year renewable terms and after first renewal can serve until age 70; appointment and tenure of National Court resident judges NA. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Subordinate Courts: district, village, and juvenile courts, military courts, taxation courts, coronial courts, mining warden courts, land courts, traffic courts, committal courts, grade five courts

Elections and Political Parties in Papua New Guinea

Voting Age: 18 years of age; universal. [Source: CIA World Factbook 2023]

Results of the Last Legislative Election (percent of vote by party): NA; seats by party: PANGU PATI: 38, PNC: 17, URP: 11, NAP: 5, PNC: 4, SDP: 4, PFP: 3, ULP: 3, Advance PNG: 2, National Party: 2, AP: 1, Destiny Party: 1, Greens: 1, Liberal Party: 1, MAP: 1, NGP: 1, ODP: 1, PLP: 1, PMC: 1, PPP: 1, PRP: 1, THE: 1, independents: 9; composition: NA

Political Parties in Papua New Guinea:
Advance PNG led by Muglua DILU
Allegiance Party or AP led by Bryan KRAMER
Destiny Party led by Marsh NARAWEC
Liberal Party led by John PUNDARI
Melanesian Alliance Party or MAP led by Joseph YOPYYOPY
National Alliance Party or NAP led by Patrick PRUAITCH
New Generation Party or NGP led by Keith IDUHU
Our Development Party or ODP led by Charles ABEL
Papua and Niugini Union Party or PANGU PATI led by James MARAPE

Papua New Guinea Country Party or PNGCP led by Chris HAIVETA
Papua New Guinea Greens Party led by Richard MASERE
Papua New Guinea National Party led by Kerenga KUA
Papua New Guinea Party or PNGP led by Belden NAMAH
People's First Party or PFP led by Richard MARU
People's Labor Party or PLP led by Peter YAMA
People's Movement for Change or PMC led by Gary JAFFA
People's National Congress Party or PNC led by Peter Paire O'NEILL
People's Party or PP led by Peter IPATAS
People's Progress Party or PPP led by Sir Julius CHAN
People's Reform Party or PRP led by James DONALD
Social Democratic Party or SDP led by Powes PARKOP
Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party or THE led by Don POLYE
United Labor Party or PLP led by vacant
United Resources Party or URP [William DUMA]. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Government Spending, Taxes and Revenues

Government Budget: revenues: $4.039 billion (2019 estimate)
expenditures: $5.135 billion (2019 estimate)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -4.8 percent (of GDP) (2017 estimate); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 167. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Public Debt: 48.68 percent of GDP (2020 estimate)
40.15 percent of GDP (2019 estimate)
36.67 percent of GDP (2018 estimate); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 112. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Taxes: 11.88 percent (of GDP) (2020 estimate); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 178. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]


Military and Security Forces: Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF): Land Element, Maritime Element, Air Element; Ministry of Internal Security: Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) (2023)[Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Military Expenditures: 0.3 percent of GDP (2022 estimate)
0.4 percent of GDP (2021 estimate)
0.4 percent of GDP (2020 estimate)
0.3 percent of GDP (2019) (approximately $100 million)
0.3 percent of GDP (2018) (approximately $100 million); ranking compared to other countries in the world: 156[Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Military Personnel: approximately 2,500 active-duty PNGDF troops (2023). Military Service: 18-27 for a general enlistee or 18-30 for an officer cadet; no conscription (2022)[Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Military Equipment: the PNGDF is lightly armed; most of its military assistance has come from Australia (2022). [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

The PNGDF is a small, lightly armed, and underfunded force tasked with defense of the country and its territories against external attack, as well as internal security and socio-economic development duties; the Land Element includes two infantry battalions, an engineer battalion, a signal squadron, an explosive ordnance disposal unit, and a preventive medicine platoon; the Air Element is a small air wing operating a light transport aircraft and two leased helicopters while the Maritime Element consists of four patrol boats and two landing craft

The PNGDF was established in 1973, and its primary combat unit, the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (RPIR), is descended from Australian Army infantry battalions comprised of native soldiers and led by Australian officers and non-commissioned officers formed during World War II to help fight the Japanese; the RPIR was disbanded after the war, but reestablished in 1951 as part of the Australian Army where it continued to serve until Papua New Guinea gained its independence in 1975, when it became part of the PNGDF

Papua New Guinea's traditional security partners are Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the US; Australia and the U.S. are assisting the country with expanding and improving the Defense Force naval base at Lombrum on Manus Island; the U.S. first established a Lombrum base in 1944 during World War II; in recent years, Papua New Guinea has established security ties with France and the UK; the U.S. and PNG signed a defense cooperation agreement in May 2023, which included a shiprider agreement that provides the opportunity for PNG personnel to work on US Coast Guard and US Navy vessels, and vice versa, to tackle maritime crime such as illegal fishing (2023)

International Issues

International Disputes: Papua New Guinea-Australia: relies on assistance from Australia to keep out illegal cross-border activities from primarily Indonesia, including goods smuggling, illegal narcotics trafficking, and squatters and secessionists. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2023]

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: refugees (country of origin): 11,432 (Indonesia) (mid-year 2022); IDPs: 24,000 (natural disasters, tribal conflict, inter-communal violence, development projects) (2021); stateless persons: 15 (2022)

Illegal Drugs: transit point for smuggling drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine; major consumer of cannabis

International Organization That Papua New Guinea Participates In: ACP, ADB, AOSIS, APEC, ARF, ASEAN (observer), C, CD, CP, EITI (candidate country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Image Sources:

Text Sources: CIA World Factbook, 2023; “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Volume 2: Oceania,” edited by Terence E. Hays, 1991, Wikipedia, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated August 2023

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.