List of cities and towns in Papua New Guinea by population

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Port Moresby
Mount Hagen

This is a list of cities and towns in Papua New Guinea by population.

Many of these figures were taken from the most recent PNG census, which was in the year 2000. Many population centres will have substantially grown since the year 2000 (such as Port Moresby, Lae, Kimbe, Kokopo, Aitape and Mendi) due to increasing urbanisation in Papua New Guinea, and disaster recovery. On the other hand, Arawa has shrunk dramatically since 1990 due to war.

List of cities and towns[edit]

Only population areas with more than 5,000 people, or notable centres are ranked. Feel free to extend this.

Rank Settlement Name Province Population
1 Port Moresby* National Capital District 254,158
2 Lae* Morobe 100,677
3 Arawa* Bougainville 36,443
4 Mount Hagen* Western Highlands 27,782
5 Madang* Madang 27,420
6 Wewak* East Sepik 25,143
7 Goroka* Eastern Highlands 25,000 ~
8 Kokopo* East New Britain 20,262
9 Popondetta* Oro 19,556
10 Aitape* Sandaun 18,000
* Rabaul 1990 East New Britain 17,044
* Hanuabada Village National Capital District 15,000 ~
11 Kimbe* West New Britain 14,656
12 Tabubil Western 13,800 ~
13 Daru* Western 12,879
14 Kavieng* New Ireland 10,600 ~
15 Alotau* Milne Bay 10,025
16 Vanimo* Sandaun 9,809
17 Bulolo Morobe 9,500 ~
18 Kiunga Western 8,265
19 Tari Southern Highlands 8,186
20 Kundiawa* Simbu 8,147
21 Mendi* Southern Highlands 8,000 ~
22 Kainantu Eastern Highlands 6,723
23 Lorengau* Manus 5,829
24 Ialibu Southern Highlands 5,478
25 Kerema* Gulf 5,116
26 Ningerum Western 5,000 ~
26 Wau Morobe 5,000 ~
 ? Wabag* Enga 4,072
 ? Rabaul East New Britain 3,885

* Denotes a capital city.
~ Is an estimated population, all other populations were determined by the most recent census, in the year 2000. The next PNG census will be held in 2010.
? Denotes a population with an undetermined rank.

Disaster and population shift[edit]

Natural and man-made disaster historically plays a major role in population shift in Papua New Guinea. The most notable are:

Disaster/Population Shift Place where affected Notes
1994 volcanic eruption Displaced thousands of residents.
1997 Western Province drought Left many agricultural communities in the highlands without food, and larger landlocked settlements that rely heavily on river shipping. Death toll is unknown. Many people permanently moved.
1998 earthquake and tsunami Killed thousands of residents. Many places were also affected with disease afterward due to improper handling of the dead and greatly reduced living conditions. About 10,000 people became refugees.
Ongoing Bougainville conflict This conflict caused unmeasurable but significant displacement. The 2000 CIA world Factbook states that 20,000 lives were lost in the conflict by 1997.
Indonesian refugee population shift Many refugee camps exist on the border of Indonesia, such as Black Wara, one of the biggest. The population of the Western Province refugee camps during the 2000 census was set at around 10,000, although the number of Indonesian refugees in the country is much higher.
Squatter settlements
  • Whole country
Most population centres in Papua New Guinea have shantytown-styled settlements, referred to as squatter settlements. Many people move in and out of these settlements periodically, as village life becomes harder, the appeal of urban life and manufactured goods becomes greater, and efforts are made to disperse the residents.

See also[edit]