Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a patchwork of different ecological zones, inhabited by human populations of exceptional cultural and linguistic diversity. This results in complex variations in vector ecology and malaria epidemiology. Malaria is the main cause of morbidity in many health facilities in lowland areas, but it is absent in much of the highlands. All four human malaria species occur, but endemicity varies widely, with Plasmodium falciparum locally reaching holo-endemic levels that are rarely found outside sub-Saharan Africa. The high frequency of Plasmodium vivax is an important difference to most African situations. PNG is therefore a prime location for studies of interactions between different parasite species, and of the biology of local human genetic adaptation and its implications for malaria morbidity and mortality.