Papua New Guinea is a democratic nation of 4 million people governed by a three-tier system of government: national government, provincial government and local councils. The supreme law-making body is the legislature, National Parliament, which operates alongside the executive government and a highly respected judiciary.
Previously the country was the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, administered as an Australian external territory. On December 1, 1973 the then House of Assembly gained self-government, and on September 16, 1975, it gainedindependence from Australia.
There are 109 members of Parliament elected by adult suffrage and they hold office for five years.
Recent Constitutional reforms now provide for provincial governments to be comprised of the local government council presidents and the members of the National Parliament from the province.
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The country's plant and animal life are equally diverse and plentiful. Many endemic species are rare and unidentified.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally complex nations on earth with over 700 different languages, some spoken by as few as 20 people. The interior of this eastern half of the island of New Guinea was first penetrated by the 'white man' in the 1930s and parts as late as 1963. At least one tribal group was discovered as recently as 10 years ago.