Provinces of Papua New Guinea

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"Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes, Edition 2" (GENC), a U.S. standard that's supposed to correspond to ISO 3166-2, was issued on 2014-03-31. It gives Hela and Jiwaka the codes PG-HLA and PG-JWK, respectively. Subsequently, on 2014-11-03, ISO officially issued codes for these two. It also changed the name of Sandaun to West Sepik. Now there is a perfect match between the two standards.

Starting 2014-12-28, Bougainville autonomous region will observe UTC+11 standard time. This will synchronize it with the neighboring Solomon Islands.

I updated areas using source [13].

The province name West Sepik was changed to Sandaun years ago. Source [12] still uses West Sepik. Source [13], published earlier, uses Sandaun.

Update 11 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2013-04-30. It assigns codes to the new provinces.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. For Papua New Guinea, this update recognizes the name change for Bougainville, and assigns it a new code to correspond to that name.

The capital of Bougainville is expected to move back to Arawa, but no date has been set.

FIPS PUB 10-4 is the U.S. Federal standard for administrative divisions of countries. Change 1 to FIPS PUB 10-4 is dated December 1, 1998. In Papua New Guinea, it notes the new name Bougainville. The ISO standard still calls it North Solomons.

Country overview: 

ISO codePG
GEC codePP
LanguageEnglish (en)
Time zone+10
CapitalPort Moresby


In 1900, the island of New Guinea was divided into a Dutch colony in the west, a German colony in the northeast, and a British protectorate in the southeast. In 1905-11, the Commonwealth of Australia took over the administration of British New Guinea. On 1906-09-01, British New Guinea was renamed the Territory of Papua. German New Guinea was mandated to Great Britain by the League of Nations on 1920-12-17. On 1946-12-13, the mandate became a Trust Territory of Australia under the United Nations. The two territories were jointly administered beginning on 1949-07-01, under the name Papua New Guinea. They became a single independent country on 1975-09-16.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Papua Ny Guinea
  2. Dutch: Papua Nieuw Guinea, Papoea-Nieuw-Guinea
  3. Finnish: Papua-Uusi-Guinea
  4. French: Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée f
  5. German: Papua-Neuguinea n
  6. Icelandic: Papúa, Papúa Nýja-Gínea
  7. Italian: Papua Nuova Guinea f
  8. Norwegian: Papua Ny-Guinea
  9. Portuguese: Papua f -Nova Guiné f
  10. Russian: Независимое Государство Папуа—Новая Гвинея (formal)
  11. Spanish: Papúa-Nueva Guinea, Estado m Independiente de Papúa Nueva Guinea f (formal)
  12. Swedish: Papua Nya Guinea
  13. Turkish: Papua Yeni Gine

Origin of name: 

Union of Papua and Australian New Guinea. Papua is Malay for frizzled, referring to natives' hair. The island of New Guinea was named by Spanish explorer Ortiz de Rez, from natives' resemblance to those of Guinea in Africa.

Primary subdivisions: 

Papua New Guinea is divided into twenty provinces, one autonomous region, and one district.

CentralPG.CECPMPP01269,75629,99811,582Port MoresbyS
Eastern HighlandsPG.EHEHGPP09EHP579,82511,1574,308GorokaH
East New BritainPG.ENEBRPP10ENB328,36915,2745,897KokopoI
East SepikPG.ESESWPP11ESP450,53043,42616,767WewakM
Milne BayPG.MBMBAPP03MBP276,51214,3455,539AlotauS
National Capital DistrictPG.NCNCDPP20NCD364,12524093Port MoresbyS
New IrelandPG.NINIKPP15NIP194,0679,5573,690KaviengI
Southern HighlandsPG.SLSHMPP05SHP510,24515,0895,826MendiH
Western HighlandsPG.WLWHMPP16WHP362,8504,2991,660Mount HagenH
West New BritainPG.WNWBKPP17WNB264,26420,3877,871KimbeI
22 divisions7,275,324462,075178,408
  • Provinces: Bougainville is an autonomous region; National Capital District is a district.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO standard 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix "PG-"
    to the code (ex: PG-SAN represents Sandaun).
  • GEC: Codes from GEC.
  • PA: Abbreviations used by the postal system.
  • Population: 2011-07-10 census (source [12]).
  • Rgn: Region (H=Highlands, I=Islands, M=Momase, S=Southern).

Further subdivisions:

See the Districts of Papua New Guinea page.

Source [4] says that the provinces are grouped into four regions: Highlands, Islands, Momase, and Southern, with four to six provinces in each region. The provinces are also subdivided into 87 districts.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Papua New Guinea shares the island of New Guinea with Indonesia. Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, Enga, Northern, Sandaun, Southern Highlands, and Western Highlands provinces and the National Capital District are almost entirely on New Guinea. For each of the other provinces, I have listed the main islands it occupies, roughly in descending order of size.
  2. Bougainville: Bougainville, Buka, Green Islands (Nissan, Pinipel)
  3. Central: New Guinea, Yule
  4. East New Britain: New Britain, Duke of York, Watom
  5. East Sepik: New Guinea, Kairiru, Mushu, Vokeo, Walis, Blup Blup
  6. Gulf: New Guinea, Morigio
  7. Madang: New Guinea, Long, Karkar, Manam, Bagbag
  8. Manus: Admiralty Islands (Manus, Rambutyo, Lou, etc.), Ninigo Islands, Hermit Islands, etc.
  9. Milne Bay: New Guinea, D'Entrecasteaux Islands (Fergusson, Normanby, Goodenough), Louisiade Archipelago (Sudest or Tagula, Yela or Rossel, Misima, Panatinane), Marshall Bennett Islands (Woodlark, Madau), Trobriand Islands (Kiriwina, Kaduaga), Engineer Group (Sideia, Basilaki)
  10. Morobe: New Guinea, Umbo, Sakar, Tolokiwa
  11. New Ireland: New Ireland, New Hanover, Saint Matthias Group (Mussau, Emirau), Tabar Group (Tabar, Tatau, Simberi), Lihir Group (Lihir), Tanga Group (Malendok, Boang), Feni Islands (Ambitle, Babase)
  12. Western: New Guinea, Kiwai, Purutu, Wabuda, Naviu, and other islands in the deltas of the Fly and Bumu Rivers
  13. West New Britain: New Britain, Lolobau, Witu Islands (Garove, Unea)

The UN LOCODE page  for Papua New Guinea lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Bougainville: named for French explorer Louis Antoine, Count of Bougainville
  2. Sandaun: tok pisin (pidgin) for "sundown": located towards the sundown from the rest of PNG.

Change history: 

  1. In 1900, the island of New Guinea consisted of a Dutch colony in the west, a German colony in the northeast, and a British protectorate in the southeast. The Dutch colony is now part of Indonesia. The part of German New Guinea that lay on the island of New Guinea was also called Kaiser Wilhelmsland, or North-East New Guinea; the other islands were called the Bismarck Archipelago.
  2. 1904: Bougainville and Buka Islands transferred from British Solomon Islands to German New Guinea.
  3. 1905-11: The Commonwealth of Australia took over the administration of British New Guinea.
  4. 1906-09-01: Name of British New Guinea changed to Territory of Papua.
  5. 1910: Capital of German New Guinea moved from Herbertshöhe (now Kokopo) to Rabaul.
  6. 1920-12-17: German New Guinea mandated to Great Britain by the League of Nations, becoming the Territory of New Guinea.
  7. 1941: Capital of New Guinea territory moved from Rabaul to Lae.
  8. 1946-12-13: British mandate became an Australian trust territory under the United Nations.
  9. 1949-07-01: Territories of New Guinea and Papua merged administratively under the name Papua New Guinea.
  10. 1950-03-01: Umbo, Sakar, and Tolokiwa Islands transferred from New Britain district to Morobe district; East Central district merged with Central; Eastern and South Eastern districts merged to form Milne Bay.
  11. 1950-11-20: Name of Kieta district changed to Bougainville.
  12. 1951-01-21: Mount Lamington erupted, destroying Higaturu, then the capital of Northern province. Capital moved to Popondetta.
  13. 1951-09-06: Status of the units of Papua changed from divisions to districts. The districts were divided into subdistricts. Central Highlands split up to form the new districts of Eastern Highlands, Southern Highlands, and Western Highlands, with other parts annexed to Sepik, Western, and Madang; Delta district merged with Gulf. Note: Central Highlands district had straddled the border between Papua and New Guinea territories. After this reorganization, each district was entirely within one or the other. At this time, the subdivisions were as follows:
Eastern HighlandsNG300,23417,0906,600
Milne BayP82,91818,1307,000
New BritainNG87,89236,65014,150
New IrelandNG34,5849,8903,820
Southern HighlandsP169,96817,3506,700
Western HighlandsNG182,26424,8609,600
  • Source: Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1957 edition.
  • Part: New Guinea (NG) or Papua (P).
  • Population: 1954 census.
  1. 1966-06-21: Chimbu district formed from parts of Eastern Highlands, Gulf, Southern Highlands, and Western Highlands; Sepik split into East Sepik and West Sepik; New Britain split into East New Britain and West New Britain.
  2. 1968: Capital of Milne Bay moved from Samarai to Alotau.
  3. 1971-07-02: Official name of country changed from Territory of Papua and New Guinea to Papua New Guinea.
  4. 1973: Enga province formed from parts of Southern Highlands and Western Highlands.
  5. 1974: National Capital district split from Central province.
  6. 1975-09-16: Papua New Guinea became independent. Status of the subdivisions changed from districts to provinces.
  7. 1975: Name of Bougainville province changed to North Solomons.
  8. ~1978: Capital of North Solomons moved from Sohano to Arawa.
  9. ~1989: Name of West Sepik province changed to Sandaun.
  10. 1994-09-19: Following a volcanic eruption, capital of East New Britain province moved from Rabaul to Kokopo.
  11. 1996: Name of North Solomons province (former ISO code PG-NSA) changed to Bougainville.
  12. ~1997: Capital of Bougainville moved from Arawa to Buka.
  13. 2001-08-29: Bougainville Peace Agreement signed, providing for the autonomy of Bougainville and a referendum on independence to be held in the future. Bougainville bills were passed by Papua New Guinea parliament on 2002-03-27.
  14. 2012-05-17: Hela province, consisting of Komo-Margarima, Koroba-Lake Kopiago, and Tari-Pori districts, split from Southern Highlands. Jiwaka province, containing Jimi, North Waghi, and Anglimp-South Waghi districts, split from Western Highlands. An earlier plan was to split Anglimp-South Waghi district, with Anglimp remaining in Western Highlands and South Waghi going to Jiwaka. Jiwaka is an acronym for Jimi, Waghi and Kambia. It appears that Banz is functioning as the headquarters of Jiwaka. The intention was to make Minj the headquarters in the long run. Most of the ceremonies inaugurating Jiwaka took place in Minj. The former HASC codes and populations in the 2000 census of Southern Highlands and Western Highlands were PG.SH: 546,265 and PG.WH: 440,025, respectively.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Bougainville: North Solomons (obsolete)
  2. Chimbu: Simbu (variant)
  3. Eastern Highlands: Planalto Oriental (Portuguese)
  4. East New Britain: Nova Bretanha Oriental (Portuguese); Nuova Britannia Orientale (Italian)
  5. National Capital District: N.C.D. (abbreviation)
  6. New Ireland: Neuirland (German); Nouvelle-Irlande (French); Nova Irlanda (Portuguese); Nuova Irlanda (Italian)
  7. Northern: Oro (variant)
  8. Sandaun: West Sepik (obsolete)
  9. Western: Fly, Fly River (variant)
  10. Western Highlands: Planalto Ocidental (Portuguese)
  11. West New Britain: Nova Bretanha Ocidental (Portuguese); Nuova Britannia Occidentale (Italian)

Population history:

Eastern Highlands239,600276,726300,648432,972579,825
East New Britain113,800133,197185,459220,133328,369
East Sepik181,900221,890254,371343,181450,530
Milne Bay109,500127,975158,780210,412276,512
N. C. D.80,000123,624195,570254,158364,125
New Ireland59,50066,02886,999118,350194,067
Southern Highlands192,900236,052317,437360,318510,245
Western Highlands204,300265,656336,178254,227362,850
West New Britain61,50088,941130,190184,508264,264


Population figures for Hela and Jiwaka for 2000 and 2011 are proleptic.


  1. [1] Turner, Barry, ed. "The Statesman's Yearbook 2006". Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
  2. [2] King, David, and Stephen Ranck, eds. "Papua New Guinea Atlas: A Nation in Transition". University of Papua New Guinea, 1982.
  3. [3] Ward, R. Gerard, and David A.M. Lea, "An Atlas of Papua and New Guinea". Department of Geography, University of Papua New Guinea, 1970.
  4. [4] Papua New Guinea Business Directory  has a page with "2000 census preliminary figures" by province, attributed to the National Statistical Office of Papua New Guinea (retrieved 2005). I originally used those figures for 2000 populations.
  5. [5] Pacific Island Travel  website has a page for each province, giving populations (as of an unspecified date), areas, capitals, and division into districts (retrieved 2010-01-13).
  6. [6] The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier Online  reported that Jiwaka province was inaugurated on 2012-05-17 (retrieved 2012-05-19).
  7. [7] Islands Business  reports the formation of Hela and Jiwaka provinces (retrieved 2012-05-19).
  8. [8] Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th edition, 1984 is the source for 1971 census data.
  9. [9] Ministry of Inter Government Relations  (retrieved 2010-01-13).
  10. [10] Papua New Guinea Tourism and Business Directory  (retrieved 2010-01-13).
  11. [11] Pacific Island Travel  (retrieved 2010-01-13) had district data for ~1992.
  12. [12] National Population & Housing Census 2011 . National Statistical Office (retrieved 2014-06-21).
  13. [13] Papua New Guinea District and Provincial Profiles . The National Research Institute (dated 2010-03, retrieved 2014-10-07).
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