Madang is a province on the
northern coast of mainland Papua New Guinea.
The province has many of the country's
highest peaks, active volcanoes
biggest mix of languages
. The capital is the
town of Madang.
contact with the New
Guinea mainland has extended through the past 50,000
years, and although as yet unproven one would presume this figure
to be true for this region also.
Scientists have found
evidence of human settlement 12,000 to 15,000 years ago near
. In the past 6,000 years sailors ultimately originating from around Taiwan have
traversed this area, leaving their mark in the Austronesian languages which are unevenly
distributed along the coastline amongst the Papuan language
Yabob and Bilbil people
used big sailing canoes to trade their pots from Karkar Island to western Morobe.
part of the Vitiaz
Strait trade network. Bundi
Beach in Madang Province
was the centre of trade
between Astrolabe Bay
Highlands. Trade involved shell
, clay pots
from the lowlands
and stone axes
and women from the Asaro
coast received its first real western exploration at the hands of
the Russian explorer
Nicholai Miklukho-Maklai in
He introduced pineapples
and other new foods. In 1884 the German New Guinea Kompagnie
started development of the region, building tobacco
and coffee plantations
and around Astrolabe Bay. In 1886,
started a Lutheran
Mission at Simbang
Divine Word Missionaries
established missions at Bogia in 1901 and Alexishafen in 1904.
Naval and Military Expeditionary Force captured Rabaul and took
control of German New
A military administration continued for 7 years.
This was ratified by the Treaty of
in 1919. Once again, very little development took
place and the next momentous occasion was the occupation of the
region around Hansa Bay by the Japanese during the Second World
War (1 May 1942 for Madang
Madang was destroyed in heavy fighting with much loss
of life on both sides. The township was recaptured by Allied soldiers
on 24 April 1944.
Post-war developments have been few and mainly restricted to the
coast and Madang town. Madang town is the base of Divine Word University
established in 1996.
Madang Province is a large region approximately 300 kilometres long
and 160 kilometres wide with four large and many small offshore
. The province totals 29,000 square
kilometres and has a population
365,106 (2000 census).
south lies the Bismarck
Range with heights ranging over 4,000 metres.
Mount Wilhelm, PNG's tallest mountain at 4509m, being found in
Also in the south, the Ramu Valley
separates the Bismarck Range from
the Finisterre Range
to the south
east of the province. The mountains are timber
rich with large stands of trees and rainforest
, whilst the coastal plain
of the vallery is open and
studded with palm trees
Sea laps the northern coast of the region is fed by the
larger Ramu, Sogeram, Gogol and
islands in the sea are, in some cases, volcanic, with Karkar, Bagabag and Manam being
In 2004/2005 the population of Manam Island was
evacuated due to an eruption of the volcano. Bagabag and Karkar
have had no major volcanic activities in recent years. This active
volcanic region is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire
and has created
, smoking volcanic cones
and black sand beaches
The Madang province receives ample rainfall
(3.2 metres in Madang itself) with the months of November to June
being the wettest.
People and Culture
Due to changes caused by outside contact over the years, cultural
loss has been great but isolation of many groups has caused that
rate of change to be diversely uneven. Because of the environment
diversity, this province
also has a very diverse culture as well. Tall lithe coastal
people from Karkar
Island, short nuggety highlands men from Simbai and river people from the Ramu.
Many Madang area costumes
frames decorated with the very common cockatoo
as birds of paradise
relatively uncommon. The Ramu people are prolific carvers and the
lower Ramu has cultural links with the villages of the artistically
diverse Sepik River
region. It is
interesting to note that the resurgence of cultural festivals (i.e.
) has seen many
people donning the fantastic traditional dress, feathers and paints
of their ancestors
Foods eaten include those grown in fertile coastal gardens
, green vegetables
, sweet potato
which relish dry soils
is a staple of the Ramu
river people especially in its lower reaches. The mountain people
have very good gardens with excellent produce.
Linguistically, Madang province is typified by a large number of
very small language groups, many with fewer than 1,000 people.
Austronesian sailors settled on this coast some 5 to 6,000 years
ago and the languages of these intrepid but largely unknown sailors
are found along the coast of the province. Lukep, Gedaged, Manam and Bilbil languages are examples of this.
and languages are examples of Papuan
(non-Austronesian) languages found
in the region. The Ramu river languages include Gamei, Giri, Tangu, Romkun and Igana and the
Rai Coast languages include Somau Garia and Usino.
The volcanic island of Karkar is unusual
in that it is shared by the Papuan language Waskia
and the Austronesian language Takia
The province is the country's third leading producer of cocoa
producer of cattle
. Ramu Sugar
woodchip mill are amongst PNG's
biggest employers. Most areas are still far from transport and