Background Notes: Papua New Guinea, October 1998
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Official Name: Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Land area: 452,860 sq. km.; about the size of California.
Cities: Capital -- Port Moresby (pop. 300,000). Other cities --
Lae (88,172), Mt. Hagen (70,850).
Terrain: Mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling
Climate: Tropical. NW Monsoon, Dec-Mar. SE Monsoon, May-Oct.
Population: 4.5 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%.
Languages: English (official), Tok Pisin, Motu, and about 715
Education: Years compulsory -- 8. Literacy -- 72.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate -- 59/1,000. Life expectancy -- men
57 yrs.; women 58 yrs.
Type: Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: September 16, 1975.
Branches: Executive -- British monarch (chief of state),
represented by governor general; prime minister (head of
government). Legislative -- unicameral parliament. Judicial --
independent; highest is Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 19 provinces and the national
capital district (Port Moresby).
Major political parties: People's Progress Party (PPP); Pangu
Parti; People's Democratic Movement (PDM); Papua New Guinea First
(PNGF); United Resources Party; and Melanesian Alliance (MA).
Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.
GDP: $4.655 billion.
Growth rate: -6.5%.
Per capita GDP: $1,034.
Natural resources: Gold, copper ore, oil, natural gas, timber,
Agriculture (28.2% of GDP): Major products -- coffee, cocoa,
coconuts, palm oil, timber, tea.
Industry (34.5% of GDP): Major sectors -- copra crushing, palm
oil processing, plywood production, wood chip production, mining
of gold, silver and copper, construction, tourism, crude oil
Trade (1997): Exports -- $2.2 billion: gold, copper ore, oil,
timber, palm oil, coffee. Major markets -- Australia, Japan,
Germany, U.K., South Korea, China. Imports -- $1.5 billion:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food,
fuels, chemicals. Major suppliers -- Australia, Singapore,
Japan, U.S., New Zealand, Malaysia.
The indigenous population of Papua New Guinea is one of the most
heterogeneous in the world. Papua New Guinea has several thousand
separate communities, most with only a few hundred people.
Divided by language, customs, and tradition, some of these
communities have engaged in tribal warfare with their neighbors
The isolation created by the mountainous terrain is so great that
some groups, until recently, were unaware of the existence of
neighboring groups only a few kilometers away. The diversity,
reflected in a folk saying, "For each village, a different
culture," is perhaps best shown in the local languages. Spoken
mainly on the island of New Guinea -- composed of Papua New
Guinea and Irian Jaya, Indonesia (the term "New Guinea" is
applied both to the northern two-thirds of the main island of
Papua New Guinea and to the entire island) -- about 650 of these
languages have been identified; of these, only 350-450 are
related. The remainder seem to be totally unrelated either to
each other or to the other major groupings. Native languages are
spoken by a few hundred to a few thousand, although Enga, used in
Enga Province, is spoken by some 130,000 people. Most native
languages are extremely complex grammatically.
Melanesian Pidgin and, in Papua, Police Motu serve as lingua
francas. Pidgin has tended to supplant Motu in recent years.
English is spoken by educated people and in Milne Bay Province.
The overall population density is low, although pockets of
overpopulation exist. Papua, with almost half the area of Papua
New Guinea, has only 20% of the population. The Western Province
of Papua averages one person per square kilometer (3 per sq.
mi.). The Chimbu Province in the New Guinea highlands averages 20
persons per square kilometer (60 per sq. mi.) and has areas
containing up to 200 people farming a square kilometer of land.
The highlands have 40% of the population.
A considerable urban drift toward Port Moresby and other major
centers has occurred in recent years. Between 1978 and 1988, Port
Moresby grew nearly 8% per year, Lae 6%, Mount Haven 6.5%, Goroka
4%, and Madang 3%. The trend towards urbanization has
accelerated in the 90s, bringing in its wake squatter
settlements, unemployment and attendant social problems.
Almost two-thirds of the population is nominally Christian. Of
these, more than 700,000 are Catholic, more than 500,000
Lutheran, and the balance are members of other Protestant sects.
Although the major churches are under indigenous leadership, a
large number of missionaries remain in the country. The bulk of
the estimated 2,500 Americans resident in Papua New Guinea are
missionaries and their families. The non-Christian portion of the
indigenous population practices a wide variety of religions,
which are an integral part of traditional culture and consist
mainly of animism (spirit worship) and ancestor cults.
Foreign residents are just over 1% of the population. More than
half are Australian; others are from the United Kingdom, New
Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. Since
independence, about 900 foreigners have become naturalized
The traditional Papua New Guinea social structure includes the
-- The practice of subsistence economy;
-- Recognition of bonds of kinship with obligations extending
beyond the immediate family group;
-- Generally egalitarian relationships with an emphasis on
acquired, rather than inherited, status; and
-- A strong attachment of the people to land.
Most Papua New Guineans still adhere strongly to this traditional
social structure, which has its roots in village life.
Archeological evidence indicates that humans arrived on New
Guinea at least 60,000 years ago, probably by sea from Southeast
Asia during an ice age period when the sea was lower and
distances between islands shorter. Although the first arrivals
were hunters and gatherers, early evidence shows that people
managed the forest environment to provide food. There also are
indications of gardening having been practiced at the same time
that agriculture was developing in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Early
garden crops -- many of which are indigenous -- included
sugarcane, Pacific bananas, yams, and taros, while sago and
pandanus were two commonly exploited native forest crops. Today's
staples -- sweet potatoes and pigs -- are later arrivals, but
shellfish and fish have long been mainstays of coastal dwellers'
When Europeans first arrived, inhabitants of New Guinea and
nearby islands -- while still relying on bone, wood, and stone
tools -- had a productive agricultural system. They traded along
the coast, where products mainly were pottery, shell ornaments,
and foodstuffs, and in the interior, where forest products were
exchanged for shells and other sea products.
The first Europeans to sight New Guinea were probably the
Portuguese and Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in
the early part of the 16th century. In 1526-27, Don Jorge de
Meneses accidentally came upon the principal island and is
credited with naming it "Papua," a Malay word for the frizzled
quality of Melanesian hair. The term "New Guinea" was applied to
the island in 1545 by a Spaniard, Ynigo Ortis de Retez, because
of a fancied resemblance between the islands' inhabitants and
those found on the African Guinea coast. Although European
navigators visited the islands and explored their coastlines for
the next 170 years, little was known of the inhabitants until the
late 19th century.
With Europe's growing need for coconut oil, Godeffroy's of
Hamburg, the largest trading firm in the Pacific, began trading
for copra in the New Guinea Islands. In 1884, Germany formally
took possession of the northeast quarter of the island and put
its administration in the hands of a chartered company. In 1899,
the German imperial Government assumed direct control of the
territory, thereafter known as German New Guinea. In 1914,
Australian troops occupied German New Guinea, and it remained
under Australian military control until 1921. The British
Government, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, assumed a
mandate from the League of Nations for governing the Territory of
New Guinea in 1920. It was administered under this mandate until
the Japanese invasion in December 1941 brought about the
suspension of Australian civil administration. Following the
surrender of the Japanese in 1945, civil administration of Papua
as well as New Guinea was restored, and under the Papua New
Guinea Provisional Administration Act, 1945-46, Papua and New
Guinea were combined in an administrative union.
On November 6, 1884, a British protectorate was proclaimed over
the southern coast of New Guinea (the area called Papua) and its
adjacent islands. The protectorate, called British New Guinea,
was annexed outright on September 4, 1888. The possession was
placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia in
1902. Following the passage of the Papua Act of 1905, British New
Guinea became the Territory of Papua and formal Australian
administration began in 1906. Papua was administered under the
Papua Act until it was invaded by the Japanese in 1942 and civil
administration suspended. During the war, Papua was governed by a
military administration from Port Moresby, where Gen. Douglas
MacArthur occasionally made his headquarters. As noted, it was
later joined in an administrative union with New Guinea during
1945-46 following the surrender of Japan.
The Papua and New Guinea Act of 1949 formally approved the
placing of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system
and confirmed the administrative union of New Guinea and Papua
under the title of "The Territory of Papua and New Guinea." The
act provided for a Legislative Council (established in 1951), a
judicial organization, a public service, and a system of local
government. A House of Assembly replaced the Legislative Council
in 1963, and the first House of Assembly opened on June 8, 1964.
In 1972, the name of the territory was changed to Papua New
Elections in 1972 resulted in the formation of a ministry headed
by Chief Minister Michael Somare, who pledged to lead the country
to self-government and then to independence. Papua New Guinea
became self-governing in December 1973 and achieved independence
on September 16, 1975. The 1977 national elections confirmed
Michael Somare as Prime Minister at the head of a coalition led
by the Pangu Party. However, his government lost a vote of
confidence in 1980 and was replaced by a new cabinet headed by
Sir Julius Chan as Prime Minister. The 1982 elections increased
Pangu's plurality, and parliament again chose Somare as Prime
Minister. In November 1985, the Somare government lost a vote of
no confidence, and the parliamentary majority elected Paias
Wingti, at the head of a five-party coalition, as Prime Minister.
A coalition, headed by Wingti, was victorious in very close
elections in July 1987. In July 1988, a no confidence vote
toppled Wingti and brought to power Rabbie Namaliu, who a few
weeks earlier had replaced Somare as leader of the Pangu Party.
Such reversals of fortune and a revolving-door succession of
Prime Ministers continue to characterize Papua New Guinea's
national politics. A plethora of political parties, coalition
governments, shifting party loyalties and motions of no-
confidence in the leadership all lend an air of instability to
political proceedings. Under legislation intended to enhance
stability, new governments remain immune from no-confidence votes
for the first 18 months of their incumbency.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Papua New Guinea, a constitutional monarchy, recognizes the Queen
of England as head of state. She is represented by a governor-
general who is elected by parliament and who performs mainly
ceremonial functions. Papua New Guinea has three levels of
government -- national, provincial, and local. There is a 109-
member unicameral parliament, whose members are elected every 5
years. The parliament in turn elects the prime minister, who
appoints his cabinet from members of his party or coalition.
Members of parliament (MP's) are elected from 19 provinces and
the national capital district of Port Moresby. Parliament
introduced reforms in June 1995 to change the provincial
government system, with regional (at-large) MP's becoming
provincial governors, while retaining their national seats in
Papua New Guinea's judiciary is independent of the government. It
protects constitutional rights and interprets the laws. There
are several levels, culminating in the Supreme Court.
Papua New Guinea's politics are highly competitive. MP's are
elected on a "first past the post" system, with winners
frequently gaining less than 15% of the vote. There are several
parties, but party allegiances are not strong. Winning
candidates are usually courted in efforts to forge the majority
needed to form a government, and allegiances are fluid. No
single party has yet won enough seats to form a government in its
Papua New Guinea has a history of changes in government
coalitions and leadership from within Parliament during the 5-
year intervals between national elections. New governments are
protected by law from votes of no confidence for the first 18
months of their incumbency.
The last national election was held in June, 1997. The election
was characterized by a large turnover in sitting members of
Parliament and a number of veteran politicians, including former
Prime Ministers Sir Julius Chan and Pias Wingti, lost their
seats. A large number of independents were elected. Eighty-
eight of the 109 election victories have been challenged by
losing candidates in the courts and some elections have been
annulled. The government was formed by a coalition of several
parties, including Pangu Pati, Peoples Progress Party (PPP),
People's Democratic Party, and many independents. Bill Skate,
the leader of the People's Congress Party, was elected Prime
Minister. Bernard Narokobi, representing the Melanesian
Alliance, was elected Leader of the Opposition. Since then the
composition of the government and the opposition has changed
dramatically and more changes of allegiance are expected prior to
January 22, 1999, when the immunity from votes of no confidence
The government is negotiating with all factions on the terms for
establishing a government of reconciliation on Bougainville
Island. A rebellion there had been under way from early 1989
until a truce came into effect in October 1997 and a permanent
cease fire was signed in April 1998. Under the eyes of a
regional peace monitoring force and a UN observer mission, the
government and provincial leaders are working toward election of
a provincial government of reconciliation in mid-1999.
Principal Government Officials
Governor General -- Sir Silas Atopare
Prime Minister -- Bill Skate
Ambassador to the United States -- Nagora Bogan
Papua New Guinea maintains an Embassy at 1779 Massachusetts Ave.
NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-745-3680; fax 202-745-3679).
The Papua New Guinea mission to the United Nations is at 801
Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (tel. 212-682-6447).
Papua New Guinea's economy generally can be separated into
subsistence and market sectors, although the distinction is
blurred by smallholder cash cropping of coffee, cocoa, and copra.
About 75% of the country's population relies primarily on the
The ongoing region-wide Asian financial crisis, which began in
1997, has created uncertainty and instability in Papua New
Guinea's economy. Demand for tropical timber has slumped
markedly as Asian buyers have pulled back from purchasing.
Additionally, an El Nino-induced drought played havoc with the
harvest of crops in the highlands in 1997.
Papua New Guinea had a typical South Pacific plantation-oriented
economy until the mid-1970s, when exploitation of a major copper
and gold deposit on Bougainville Island was undertaken. Through
1987, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) produced concentrate
containing 2.8 million tons of copper, 285 tons of gold, and 715
tons of silver, representing 44% of Papua New Guinea's exports.
BCL contributed $1,107.4 million in taxes, dividends, and
royalties to the government, equivalent to 17% of domestic
revenue. BCL closed its operations in 1989 in response to
increasingly violent disruptions and protests on the part of
Bougainville Islanders, the traditional landowners. Those events
grew into a full-fledged secessionist rebellion. A cease fire
has held since October 1997, but even if a full peace settlement
goes into effect in the coming year, no reopening of the mine's
operations can be predicted in the foreseeable future. At the
time the mine closed, it was responsible for 35% of the total
value of exports from Papua New Guinea.
The country's second major gold and copper mine, Ok Tedi Mining
Ltd., began production in January 1985 and reached full
production in 1990. From 1985 to 1987, Ok Tedi produced 60 tons
of gold and 40,000 tons of copper. By 1993, Ok Tedi had been
joined by the Porgera gold and silver mine as an important
producer. Ok Tedi has suffered major labor strikes, and in 1997
the drought reduced water levels in the river so that ore-barges
could not travel from the mine to downstream destinations. All
operating mines in Papua New Guinea have at times been the
subject of land ownership disputes or environmental
controversies; international investor confidence occasionally
GDP grew at about 2% annually throughout the 1980s. With
agriculture and mining accounting for 28% and 35%, respectively,
of GDP, the economy is vulnerable to swings in international
commodity prices. Exports are 40% of GDP.
The manufacturing sector, mainly low-technology food processing,
wood processing, and metal fabrication for the domestic market,
has increased only slightly since 1985. Employment in these
industries accounts for only about 8% of formal employment and
offers fewer positions than there are entrants into the labor
market each year (about 30,000). Employment and production in
mining and related industries grew throughout the 1990s. The
mining sector has few links with the rest of the economy,
however, and employs only about 1% of the total work force. The
petroleum industry also provides employment and contributes to
GDP. Chevron operates the Kutubu and Gobe oil projects. Exxon's
Papua New Guinea subsidiary is exploring for natural gas
Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with gold and copper and has
significant deposits of other metals. Lack of infrastructure has
slowed the pace of exploitation, but the country nevertheless has
experienced a gold exploration boom, with five medium to large
projects developed in the past decade.
Oil and gas exploration has been active since the 1930s. More
than 120 wells have been drilled, and the discoveries -- two oil
fields, five gas and condensate fields, and four dry gas fields -
- have led to tentative estimates of hydrocarbon reserves of
about 10 trillion cubic feet of gas, 135 million barrels of
condensate, and 345 million barrels of oil. Commercial production
will be expensive, however, given the lack of infrastructure and
the high cost of operating in remote terrain.
Timber, until the Asian economic crisis, had accounted for about
7% of exports. An estimated 40% of the country is covered with
exploitable trees. Although most timber now leaves the country as
logs, the government encourages domestic wood processing for
export and domestic consumption.
The industrial sector (exclusive of mining) accounts for about 9%
of GDP but contributes little to exports. Food processing is the
strongest growth area and makes up 60% of total value added. Wood
processing provides 10% and basic metal industries 20% of value
added. Current small-scale industries produce beer, soap,
concrete products, clothing, paper products, matches, ice cream,
canned meat, fruit juices, and paint. The small domestic market,
relatively high wages, and high transport costs are constraints
to industrial development.
Agriculture accounts for about 28% of GDP and 35% of exports; it
supports 85% of the population. Subsistence cultivation accounts
for 45% of agricultural production. Cash crops ranked by value
are coffee, cocoa, palm oil, copra, tea, and rubber. A single
sugar plantation and refinery normally meets the domestic demand
for sugar and recently has begun exporting.
The Department of Primary Industry has established projects
throughout the country in cattle breeding and palm oil and fresh
vegetable production for the local market. Research projects also
have helped expand production of major export crops. It will take
several decades, however, to supplant traditional slash-and-burn
agriculture with modern agricultural techniques.
Papua New Guinea exports some 1,300 tons of crayfish and prawns
per year. The country's significant skipjack tuna resource is
Papua New Guinea's financial position has deteriorated over the
past decade. The loss of export earnings from the Bougainville
copper mine has hurt, as have fluctuating commodity prices, the
el nino-induced drought, and the Asian financial crisis of 1997-
98. The kina was devaluated by about 20 percent in 1998,
reflecting the impact of the Asian downturn. Exports exceeded
imports in 1997. For most of the years of the preceding decade,
the two figures remained roughly equal. The current account
balance has shown a slight deficit.
The kina is pegged to a basket of currencies based on import
weights. On a trade-weighted basis, the real effective exchange
rate has remained basically unchanged since a 5% devaluation in
Development Programs and Aid
Australia is the largest bilateral aid donor to Papua New Guinea.
Most of this aid is in the form of general budgetary support.
Australian budgetary aid decreased from a peak of 28% of Papua
New Guinea's total budget in 1984 to 18% in 1987. In 1991,
Australian budgetary aid totaled $198 million (16%). It was
expected to remain at that general level over the next few years
declining, in real terms, to about 12% of the total budget. Papua
New Guinea is actively encouraging other countries to participate
in its development programs. They are doing so in the context of
the World Bank Consultative Group on Papua New Guinea.
In addition to Australia, other major sources of aid to Papua New
Guinea are New Zealand, Germany, Japan, the World Bank, the Asian
Development Bank, the European Union, and the United Nations.
Total aid to Papua New Guinea has averaged about $120 million
annually in recent years.
U.S. Peace Corps volunteers have served in Papua New Guinea since
1981. Currently about 80 volunteers there concentrate on rural
community development and education programs. Other volunteers
from Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand,
Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United Nations assist Papua
New Guinea in development projects. Some 2,000 missionaries work
in churches, hospitals, and schools. Several churches have their
own economic development projects.
Papua New Guinea's foreign policy reflects close ties with
Australia and other traditional allies and cooperative relations
with neighboring countries. Its views on international political
and economic issues are generally moderate. Papua New Guinea has
diplomatic relations with 56 countries.
U.S.-PAPUA NEW GUINEA RELATIONS
The United States and Papua New Guinea established diplomatic
relations upon the latter's independence on September 16, 1975.
The two nations belong to a variety of regional organizations,
including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; the
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF); the South Pacific Commission; and the
South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP).
One of the most successful cooperative multilateral efforts
linking the U.S. and Papua New Guinea is the U.S.-Pacific Islands
Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, under which the U.S. grants
$18 million per year to Pacific Island parties and the latter
provide access for U.S. fishing vessels.
The U.S. supports Papua New Guinea's efforts to protect
biodiversity. The U.S. Government supports the International
Coral Reef Initiative aimed at protecting reefs in tropical
nations such as Papua New Guinea.
U.S. military forces, through the Pacific Theater Command in
Honolulu, Hawaii, carry out annual bilateral meetings as well as
small-scale exercises with the Papua New Guinea Defense Force
(PNGDF). The U.S. also provides military education and training
courses to national security officials.
The U.S. Peace Corps sent its first group of volunteers to Papua
New Guinea in September 1981. Currently over 80 volunteers serve
throughout the country. Volunteer work is concentrated in rural
community development and education.
About 2,500 U.S. citizens live in Papua New Guinea, with major
concentrations at two missionary headquarters in Eastern
Trade and Investment
Papua New Guinea is the largest Pacific Island nation in both
population and land area. Its natural resources, including gold,
copper, hydrocarbons, timber and fisheries, and tree crops
(coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm oil), provide the country's main
exports. There is little domestic industry.
Although its per capita GDP of $1,034 ranks Papua New Guinea as a
middle-income developing nation, 85% of its population engaged in
subsistence and smallholder agriculture. The government employs
about 30% of the roughly 250,000 workers participating in the
formal economy. Mining and petroleum exports represented 60% of
total exports and an estimated 36% of GDP in 1997.
Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Malaysia are the
principal exporters to Papua New Guinea. Equipment and supplies
for the mining and petroleum sectors and aircraft and aircraft
parts accounted for most U.S. exports in 1997.
Australia is Papua New Guinea's most important export market
followed by Japan, South Korea and Germany. Crude oil is by far
the largest U.S. import from Papua New Guinea, followed by cocoa
beans, coffee, and tea.
U.S. companies are active in developing Papua New Guinea's mining
and petroleum sectors. Chevron operates the Kutubu and Gobe oil
projects. Exxon's Papua New Guinea subsidiary is exploring for
natural gas reserves. Cyprus-Amex is completing a feasibility
study on a gold and copper project in the Sapik region. A
30,000-40,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery project in which there
is an American interest has been approved by the government.
Papua New Guinea became a participating economy in the Asia-
Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 1993. It joined the
World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador -- Arma Jane Karaer
Deputy Chief of Mission -- Alan Latimer
Political Officer -- (vacant)
Economic Officer -- Edward Arrizabalaga
Consular Officer -- Aaron Hellman
The U.S. embassy in Papua New Guinea is located on Douglas
Street, Port Moresby (tel. 675-321-1455; fax 675-321-3423). The
mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, U.S. Department
of State, Washington, DC 20521-4240.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program
provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel
Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that
Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information
Sheets exist for all countries and include information on
immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions,
areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances,
and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public
Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information
quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term
conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security
of American travelers. Free copies of this information are
available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-
5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel
Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on
the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB,
dial the modem number: 301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to
33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1(no
parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The
login is travel and the password is info. (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security
information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and
Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information
on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954;
telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may
be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at
(202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and
holidays, call 202-647-4000.
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-
hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live
operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per
minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778).
Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-
888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A
hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and
advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and
countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for
International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest
to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a
country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this
country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in
dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy
upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials"
listing in this publication). This may help family members
contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the
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Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign
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DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information
on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes
an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the
present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To
order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department
of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related
information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov)
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more
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