Papua New Guinea is a complex island nation and one of the most culturally diverse in the world. Located in an area called the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. The nation consists of the eastern half of the island, as well as smaller islands. It is one of the most rural countries, with only 13% of the people living in urban centers. It is also one of the world's least explored countries, both culturally and geographically. With a population of nearly 7 million, roughly 830 different languages are spoken. Each indigenous language group has only about 1,000 speakers, though some are now only spoken by a few.
The biggest challenge for this country is reflected in its motto, "Unity in Diversity." The motto has a complex and ironic twist behind it, as there is a history of tribal fighting and revenge killings, a sign of great division amongst the people. In the present day, gang violence is increasing in the cities. "Witch hunts" are on the rise, and those suspected of black magic are at risk of violence and even death. Human trafficking is a widespread problem, as the government acknowledges it, but has not taken significant attempts against it, nor complied with minimum international standards. The youth are especially at risk, as they face gangs, unemployment, and a culture of fear and violence.
Ninety-six percent of people are Christian, but there are spiritual strongholds over the people through traditions of witchcraft, spiritism, and related violence. God's word is not easily accessible to many people because of the diverse languages, hence there is continued need for translation and more literacy programs. Forty percent of the population is illiterate, which hinders the working of God's word in their lives. May God establish a true peace and a new identity that rises above tribal and ethnic ties so that the people are brought together in a way that will only be accomplished through Christ as He provides creative solutions to meet the people's needs.
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