Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea off the north east corner of Australia. It is a land of high mountain ranges and tropical rain forests, with comparatively few roads. Most of the people (around 85%) live in rural areas, relying on subsistence farming, and can only be reached by walking from the nearest road or airstrip. Over 800 languages are spoken.
Out of a population of 5,140,476, 4,934,098 describe themselves as Christians (2000 census figures). Of that number, 166,046 (3.2%) are Anglicans. Roman Catholics make up 27.0%, Lutherans 19.5% and the United Church 11.5%. Other churches account for the rest. There is a high degree of ecumenical co-operation, particularly in the areas of health and education. More than half of the rural health work, and nearly all of the training of nurses and community health workers, is carried out by the churches.
The Anglican Province of Papua New Guinea is made up of five dioceses - Aipo Rongo, Dogura, New Guinea Islands, Popondota and Port Moresby. At the beginning of 2002 these contained 118 parishes, as well as a number of mission districts. There were 173 priests engaged in active ministries, mostly in the parishes but a few in specialized areas (theological education, army and police chaplaincies, etc.). Priests are trained at Newton Theological College, just outside Popondetta in Oro Province, and catechists at Kerina Evangelists' College at Tsendiap in Western Highlands Province. The Anglican National Office, the church's administrative headquarters, is at Lae in Morobe Province. The Anglican Education Division looks after 3 high schools, about 100 community schools and 2 vocational centres, whilst the Anglican Health Service runs 3 health centres (rural hospitals), 12 health sub-centres and 12 aid posts.
The Anglican Church is currently putting major emphasis on the development of small faith communities, with the objective of achieving greater self-reliance. An extensive training programme has been undertaken at provincial and diocesan levels. HIV/AIDS is a rapidly growing problem within Papua New Guinea, and Anglicare, an agency of the Diocese of Port Moresby, is engaged in a major StopAIDS programme which is making a significant contribution to AIDS education both in the nation's capital and in the country as a whole.