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Papua New Guinea

There are More Languages in Papua New Guinea Than Any Other Country in the World

Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. After 60 years of the Australian administration, it declared independence in 1975. The country, with its islands, has a population of roughly 7 million people and occupies an area of approximately 178,704 square miles. But did you know how many languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea? 

Papua New Guinea has around 820 indigenous languages, accounting for 12% of the world’s total languages. This island has more languages than any other country in the world.

What are the Official Languages of Papua New Guinea? 

Following independence, Papua New Guinea adopted four official languages. English, Tok, sign language and Hiri Motu are the official languages. Tok Pisin is the most commonly utilized language for commercial and government activities among the four official languages. In most institutions around the country, at least two official languages are used. The official languages are utilized throughout the country to foster unity and communication. Even though only four of the over 850 languages have been designated as official, the lack of state recognition has had little effect on the other languages.


The country’s official language is English. However, roughly 100,000 individuals speak it, or about 2% of the population. The Australians who colonized the country introduced English as an Indo-European language. Migrants and expatriates who work in the country primarily speak English. English is used extensively in official communications and publications. In the education system, English is also the primary language. The English language has evolved to become Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu, two of the most popular languages in the country.

Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin is the Creole language that originated in English. It is the most widely spoken language in Papua New Guinea and one of its four official languages. Tok Pisin is spoken by about five million people in the country, albeit not everyone speaks it fluently. Approximately one million people, primarily urban families, speak Tok Pisin as their first tongue. In addition, the language is gradually displacing other languages spoken in the country. Tok Pisin is frequently utilized in parliamentary discussions and other public information campaigns. To promote early literacy, some schools in the land use Tok Pisin alongside English in the early years of primary education.

Hiri Motu

Hiri Motu is a simplified variant of Motu and one of Papua New Guinea’s officially recognized languages. There are two dialects of the language: Austronesian and Papuan. The Motu language gave rise to the two dialects. Since 1964, the Papuan language has been used as the basis for official publications, and it was extensively spoken during its heyday. However, because of the increased popularity of English and Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu has been gradually dwindling since the early 1970s.

(Source: World Atlas

How Many Cultural Groups Are in Papua New Guinea? 

There are an estimated 1000 different ethnic groups in Papua New Guinea, and they all have their weaponry, clothes, music, architecture, and dance, thanks to the country’s vast diversity.

Each tribe has distinct qualities that date back thousands of years. It’s a fascinating country with a wide range of cultural customs. (Source:Vicky Flipflop Travels)

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