Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea are several islands belonging to Oceania, between Asia and Australia, at the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. The country has a size of 460,000 km² and a population of 4.2 Million people. The Capital is Port Moresby. The main language is English, but there are numerous local languages. The main religions are Animist, Protestant, and Catholic.

The main island is the second largest island of the world, New Guinea. But only the eastern half of the island of New Guinea belongs to Papua New Guinea, the other half belongs to Indonesia. In the 19th century the northeastern part of the island was colonized by Germany, the southeastern part by Great Britain. In 1885 the borders were determined. Great Britain gave their part of the island to Australia in 1902. Australia then occupied the German part during World War I. It continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975.

The geology of the islands is based on the Ring of Fire, the convergent rim of the Pacific Plate. Along this rim earthquakes and volcanoes are abundant. The islands are built by three processes, active volcanism, accumulation of crust material at the subduction zone and biogene sediments, mainly from reefs. Logically there is an abundance of lava caves and karst caves in various kinds of limestone. Papua New Guinea is also famous for important mineral deposits, most (in)famous probably the gold deposits, which were the reason for the extinction of numerous native tribes.

Papua is said to be one of the most important karst areas of the world. There are numerous impressive caves, so far two systems with about 50 km in length are discovered. This is not really special, as the high temperature and the high amount of rain, together with acids producing vegetation, result in extremely fast solution of limestone and growth of caves. More special is the fact that there is enough limestone.

Many caves were explored during the last 30 years by foreign cavers, from Australia, Britain, France, Poland and other countries. The two longest caves on Papua New Guinea are Mamo Kananda (L=54,800 m) and Atea Kananda (L=34,500 m), both located in the Muller Range in the Southern Highlands. The deepest cave is Neide-Muruk Cave (VR=1,258 m), in the Galowe Plateau on neighbour island New Britain.

There is no local caver scene and no infrastructure which would result in the opening of some caves to the public. At the moment there is no show cave open to the public, but there are various cave trekking tours and visits to semi wild caves.