WELL BEING ON PAPUA NEW GUINEA
The current population of the island of New Guinea is about eleven million. Human habitation on the island dates to as early as 50,000 BC and first settlement possibly dating back to 60,000 years ago. The island is presently populated by almost a thousand different tribal groups and a near equivalent number of separate languages, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue’s 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Irian Jaya, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages over-lapping. For all of its diversity, the people are happy and there is a sense of well being.
With some 786,000 km of tropical land—less than one-half of one percent of the Earth’s surface—New Guinea has an immense biodiversity, containing between 5 and 10 percent of the total species on the planet. This percentage is about the same amount as that found in the United States or Australia. A high percentage of New Guinea’s species are endemic, and thousands are still unknown to science: probably well over 200,000 species of insects, between 11,000 and 20,000 plant species, and over 650 resident bird species. Most of these species are shared, at least in their origin, with the continent of Australia, which was, until fairly recent geological times, part of the same landmass. The island is so large that it is considered nearly a continent in terms of its biological distinctiveness.
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