Papua New Guinea (PNG; /ˈpæpuə njuː ˈɡɪniː, ˈpɑː-, -pju-/, US /ˈpæpjuə, pɑːˈpuːə/; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini; Hiri Motu: Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world; 852 languages are listed for the country, of which 12 have no known living speakers. Most of the population of over 7 million people live in customary communities, which are as diverse as the languages. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 percent of its people live in urban centres. The country is one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically; many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior, as well as groups of uncontacted people. Papua New Guinea is classified as a developing economy by the International Monetary Fund. Strong growth in Papua New Guinea's mining and resource sector led to the country becoming the sixth fastest-growing economy in the world in 2011, although growth was expected to slow once major resource projects came on line in 2015. Mining remains a major economic factor, however, with talks of resuming mining operations in the previously closed-off Panguna mine ongoing with the local and national governments. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle with no access to global capital. At the local level, the majority of the population still live in strong customary societies and – while social life is overlaid with traditional religious cosmologies and modern practices, including conventional primary education – customary subsistence-based agriculture remains fundamental. These societies and clans are explicitly acknowledged within the nation's constitutional framework. The Papua New Guinea Constitution expresses the wish for "traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society" and for active steps to be taken in their continuing importance to local and national community life. At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975 following almost 60 years of Australian administration. It became a separate Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.
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