Modern Papua New Guinea

By Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi | Go to book overview

Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi


INTRODUCTION

PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS A COUNTRY of great diversity. With over seven hundred languages, as many cultures, diverse physical types, and a landmass encompassing coral reef, mangrove swamp, rain forest, mountain ranges, and extensive river systems, Papua New Guinea has long attracted the interest of scientists and others seeking to understand or control some part of its rich diversity. Today, with a changed political structure, involvement in the global economy, a diverse national and expatriate community, and the exposure of its peoples to new ideas and values through interactions with other Papua New Guineans and foreigners, Papua New Guinea is even more multilingual, multicultural, multiracial, and socially complex than a century ago when European explorers, missionaries, traders, and colonizers began arriving in significant numbers on New Guinea's shores.

To get a taste of this diversity, one need only visit Jackson Airport in the nation's capital of Port Moresby. There, in the international arrivals area, one sees expatriate children and the children of mixed-race marriages and elite Papua New Guineans arriving home from school in Australia, wearing western fashions, and speaking a mixture of English, Tok Pisin, Motu, or Tok Ples.1 As children leave the airport in their parents' air-conditioned cars and head for the comfort of European-style homes, less affluent youth stare openly, their expressionless faces

1Tok Pisin is a widely used form of Pidgin English. Motu is a trade language commonly spoken in Papua. Tok Ples is the Tok Pisin expression for ‘native language’.

-1-

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