The languages of Papua New Guinea today number over 850. These languages are spoken by the inhabited tribal groups of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.In 2006, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare stated that "Papua New Guinea has 832 living languages (languages, not dialects)" making it the most linguistically diverse place on earth.

Archaeological evidence indicates that humans first arrived in Papua New Guinea around 42,000 to 45,000 years ago. They were descendants of migrants out of Africa, in one of the early waves of human migration.