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

PROFILE

Geography

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 
foothills.
Climate: Tropical.  NW Monsoon, Dec-Mar.  SE Monsoon, May-Oct.

People

Population: 4.5 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%.
Languages: English (official), Tok Pisin, Motu, and about 715 
other languages.
Education: Years compulsory -- 8.  Literacy -- 72.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate -- 59/1,000. Life expectancy -- men 
57 yrs.; women 58 yrs.

Government

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.

Economy (1997)

GDP: $4.655 billion.
Growth rate: -6.5%.
Per capita GDP: $1,034.
Natural resources: Gold, copper ore, oil, natural gas, timber, 
fish.
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 
production.
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.

PEOPLE

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 
for centuries.

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 
citizens.

The traditional Papua New Guinea social structure includes the 
following characteristics:

-- 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.

HISTORY

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' 
diets.

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.

New Guinea

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.

Papua

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.

Postwar Developments

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 
Guinea.

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 
parliament.

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 
own right.

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 
expires.

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).

ECONOMY

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 
subsistence economy.

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 
falters.

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 
reserves.

Natural Resources

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.

Industry

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

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 
largely unexploited.

Finance

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 
November 1985.

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.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

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 
Highlands Province.

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 
publication).

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 
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. 
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes 
Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign 
policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; 
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. 
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 
information.

(###)
Return to East Asia and the Pacific Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage