Provinces of Papua New Guinea

For administrative purposes, Papua New Guinea is divided into administrative divisions called provinces. There are 22 province-level divisions, which include 20 provinces, the autonomous region of Bougainville and the National Capital District of Port Moresby.

Province-level divisions of Papua New Guinea
Papua new guinea provinces (numbers) 2012.png
CategoryUnitary state
LocationIndependent State of Papua New Guinea
Number22 Province-Level Divisions:
20 Provinces
1 Autonomous Region
1 National Capital District
Populations(Provinces only):
smallest: 50,231 (Manus)
largest: 674,810 (Morobe)
Areas(Provinces only):
smallest: 2,100 km2 (800 sq mi) (Manus)
largest: 98,190 km2 (37,911 sq mi) (Fly River)

In 2009, the PNG parliament created two additional provinces, that officially came into being on 17 May 2012.[1] They were Hela Province, which was split from Southern Highlands Province, and Jiwaka Province, which was split from Western Highlands Province.[2]

Each province forms a provincial electorate, called a constituency, for the PNG national parliament. The 22 provincial members are chosen from single-member electorates. Each provincial member becomes governor of their province unless they take a ministerial position, in which case the governorship passes to an open member of the province.[3]


Immediately before independence on 16 September 1975, Papua New Guinea was divided into nineteen provinces and the National Capital District. These provinces corresponded to the "Districts" of the pre-Independence administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The Bougainville issueEdit

It had been considered that an independent state with limited resources could ill afford the infrastructure of a two-level quasi-federal governmental structure. However, a secessionist movement in Bougainville, whose copper mine provided the largest single source of foreign exchange and whose contribution to the general revenue was crucial to the independent state's economic viability, forced the issue. The Bougainville secession movement declared the Republic of the North Solomons on 1 September 1975 and the central government very quickly responded by offering provincial status to Bougainville. For the sake of consistency, as there were or had been regional separatist movements in Papua and East New Britain, provincial status was offered to the other 18 Districts as well.

Bougainville continues to be a special case. A renewed secession movement emerged in 1988 and resulted in a violent military campaign on the island, the closing of the Bougainville Copper Mine with serious financial consequences for the central government, the destruction or running-down of most infrastructure on the island and, ultimately, the total quarantining of the province for a decade. The Sandline affair of 1997 was a political scandal that became one of the defining moments in Papua New Guinea's history, particularly that of the conflict in Bougainville.

The Bougainville secessionists came to terms with the central government in 1997. A constitution was drafted for a more autonomous regional polity within Papua New Guinea with its own president and provisions for a referendum on total autonomy in due course.


Until 1995, the provinces had elected provincial assemblies and cabinets led by premiers; however, the country remained unitary, not federal. Unlike Canada, Australia, and the United States, whose federal governments are creatures of the provinces or states, but as with the provinces and states of Pakistan and India, the provinces are creatures of the central government and can be suspended by it or have their boundaries changed. Indeed, there have been suspensions of several provincial governments to address corruption or incompetence by elected provincial governments. Changes in the boundaries of those provinces which are adjacent to the former boundary between the Territories of Papua and New Guinea can cause special complications in the administration of statutes that apply in Papua or New Guinea but not both.

Ultimately in June 1995, in an effort to re-assert a measure of control by the central government over the often wayward provinces in an environment of limited numbers of personnel qualified for public office in many of the provinces, the office of the provincial premier was abolished and the regional (at-large) members of Parliament became provincial governors, while also retaining their seats in Parliament.

Naming of provincesEdit

Several provincial governments have adopted a local name for their province. For example, Bougainville became North Solomons, Western became Fly River, Chimbu became Simbu, Northern became Oro, and West Sepik became Sandaun.

Though these names are accorded popular acceptance, they remain unofficial, as formal changes in province names require amendments to the Constitution, using the prescribed amending formula.

New provincesEdit

In May 2012, two new provinces were established: Hela Province was split from Southern Highlands Province and Jiwaka Province from Western Highlands Province.[1][4]

List of provincesEdit

For administrative purposes, Papua New Guinea is divided into four regions and also into twenty-two provinces, as follows:

Region Province Capital Governor
(as of 2021)
(2011 census)
1 Southern   Central Port Moresby Robert Agarobe 29,998 269,756 6.21
2 Highlands   Chimbu (Simbu) Kundiawa Michael Bogai Dua 6,112 376,473 42.42
3 Highlands   Eastern Highlands Goroka Peter Numu 11,157 579,825 38.35
4 Islands   East New Britain Kokopo Nakikus Konga 15,274 328,369 14.20
5 Momase   East Sepik Wewak Allan Bird 43,426 450,530 7.98
6 Highlands   Enga Wabag Peter Ipatas 11,704 432,045 22.60
7 Southern   Gulf Kerema Chris Haiveta 34,472 158,194 3.04
8 Momase   Madang Madang Peter Yama 28,886 493,906 12.49
9 Islands   Manus Lorengau Charlie Benjamin 2,000 50,231 20.76
10 Southern   Milne Bay Alotau John Luke Crittin 14,345 276,512 14.93
11 Momase   Morobe Lae Ginson Saonu 33,705 674,810 15.56
12 Islands   New Ireland Kavieng Julius Chan 9,557 194,067 12.31
13 Southern   Oro (Northern) Popondetta Gary Juffa 22,735 186,309 5.82
14 Islands   Autonomous Region of Bougainville Buka Ishmael Toroama (President 2020)
Joe Lera
9,384 249,358 15.18
15 Highlands   Southern Highlands Mendi William Powi 15,089 510,245 23.86
16 Southern   Western (Fly) Daru Taboi Awe Yoto 98,189 201,351 1.53
17 Highlands   Western Highlands Mount Hagen Paias Wingti 4,299 362,850 59.12
18 Islands   West New Britain Kimbe Sasindran Muthuvel 20,387 264,264 8.80
19 Momase   Sandaun (West Sepik) Vanimo Tony Wouwou 35,820 248,411 5.12
20 Southern   National Capital District Port Moresby Powes Parkop 240 364,125 1051.95
21 Highlands   Hela Tari Philip Undialu 10,498 249,449 17.71
22 Highlands   Jiwaka Banz William Tongamp 4,798 343,987 38.68


On a broader scale, PNG is divided into four regions. The regions are significant in daily life and are often the basis for the organisation of government services, corporate operations, sporting competitions, and even the machinations of politics. For instance, there has been much discussion over the years of how many Prime Ministers have come from each region, and whether a particular region is due to provide the next one. Ministers and departmental heads are often appointed to maintain an overall balance between the regions.

People generally identify quite strongly with their region, and inter-region rivalries can be intense. The four regions are:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "PNG’S new province Hela, Jiwaka declared" Archived 24 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, The National, 17 May 2012
  2. ^ Post-Courier, "Jiwaka, Hela set to go!" 15 July 2009 Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "About Our Parliament". National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.
  4. ^ "PNG creates two new provinces in the Highlands". Radio New Zealand International. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2011.