Lesson 3: Papua New Guinea

This week we’re going to go about as far off the beaten track as one can in this increasingly-over-developed world. The Melanesian country of Papua New Guinea (“PNG”) occupies the eastern half the world’s second-largest island–just a bit north of Australia–which it shares with Indonesia’s West Papua. (We’ll learn more about the Pacific island grouping called “Melanesia” another week). Unlike Australia with a dry, open landscape British colonizers committed to tame, PNG has ample rain which feeds ample, dense rainforests that amply intimidated German, British and eventually Australian colonial forces into staying put along the coast. PNG’s rugged terrain and general lack of infrastructure continue to make it a challenging place for international visitors to access…unless of course we’re doing so virtually, from the relatively leech-free comfort of our own homes.

HISTORY: “Papua New Guinea has one of the most culturally diverse and rurally isolated populations on earth….”

MUSIC: “For fifty thousand years of Papua New Guinea’s habitation PNG islanders have been singing, singing and singing….”

LANGUAGES: “In Papua New Guinea people speak over 800 indigenous languages. Though many of these languages are highly local, boast less than 1000 native speakers and are in near threat of extinction, a good number are still viable and active….”

WHEN YOU GO THERE: “Self-motivated, very independent travelers go to Papua New Guinea and have a grand time. There may be no better place on earth to go to experience nature the way nature used to be….”

SINGSING: An epic Papuan cultural song and dance competition that pits village against village — in singing, not war.

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