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Papua New Guinea is Australia's closest neighbour and occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and some 600 offshore islands. Its population is estimated at 7.6 million and with over 850 indigenous languages, it is one of the world's most ethnically diverse countries.

The capital, Port Moresby, has a population of approximately 400,000.

Only 7% of the population has access to the electric grid and a reticulated water system. 

The mountainous terrain, the hundreds of scattered small islands and very limited infrastructure present major development challenges.

Demographically PNG is a young country; where 76 per cent are under 35 years old and 40 per cent are under the age of 15.

With an annual population growth rate of 2.3 per cent, the population is projected to reach 9 million by 2020 and could double by 2050.

Two-fifths of Health Centres and rural health posts have no electricity or essential medical equipment.

Eighty-five per cent of the population live in rural areas and seventy-five per cent of households depend on subsistence agriculture.

Life expectancy is 63 years,, and adult literacy is around 50 per cent.

Poverty and social inequality are persistent, with an estimated 40 per cent of the population living on less than $1.25US per day.

Distance, isolation, lack of transport and an extreme shortage of skilled nurses, highlight the hazards of childbirth in PNG, where the infant mortality rate reached 57 per 1000 live births in 2006.

25% of children are unable to attend school.

Gender equity is a significant challenge too with women and girls having substantially less access to health care and education services than men and boys.

Sexually transmitted infections rates are among the highest in the Pacific region.

The United Nations Development Programme 2012.

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