Thousands of visitors watched 2,000 performers take part in the annual Goroka Sing-Sing on Saturday set in the country's highlands.

Papua New Guinea is home to an estimated 800 tribes and one-third of the world's languages, but just 40 years ago many of them were still at war with each other.

Warriors wearing loincloths and women with intricately painted designs on their faces entertained the crowds, containing hundreds of foreign visitors, with special cultural displays.

Prizes were awarded to the tribes deemed to have best preserved their traditional costumes and customs.

The governor of the Eastern Highlands, Mal Kela Smith, said the Goroka Sing-Sing was designed to keep alive the diverse cultures in Papua New Guinea and ensure they are not modernised out of recognition.

Tourism boost

He hoped more tourists would be able to attend such events in the future.

Despite abundant natural resources and stunning natural landscapes ranging from jungle-covered mountains to coral islands, poor infrastructure and a high level of violent crime mean the country still has a low profile on the tourism map.

Many tribesmen were
dressed to impress

The only way to get from the capital to many outlying settlements is by aeroplane or boat and air fares are often expensive.

It is just larger than California in area, Papua New Guinea ranges across a stunning landscape of jungles, mountains and coral-bound islands that offer trekking, diving, white-water rafting and deep-sea fishing.

Papua New Guinea is home to six million people, more than a third of whom live in poverty. It gained independence from Australia in 1975.