The languages of Papua New Guinea today number over 850, making it the most linguistically diverse place on earth. Its official languages are Tok Pisin, English and Hiri Motu. Tok Pisin, an English-based creole, is the most widely spoken, serving as the country's lingua franca.
Although it is an official language of Papua New Guinea, English is only spoken by 1–2% of the population.
The longest-established languages of Papua New Guinea are known as the Papuan languages.
Outside of Papua New Guinea, Papuan languages are also spoken in Indonesia, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.
People speaking languages belonging to the Austronesian family arrived in New Guinea approximately 3,500 years ago.
The Austronesian languages are widely spread across the globe, as far west as Malagasy in Madagascar, as far east as Rapa Nui on Easter Island, and as far as north as the Formosan languages of Taiwan. Austronesian has several primary branches, all but one of which are found exclusively on Taiwan.
57.3% of the population of Papua New Guinea over 15 years of age are literate.
- Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Fifteenth edition ed.). Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.
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