Morobe Provincial Government

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Morobe Province - Setting, Language, Tribes and Lae

The origin of the people of Morobe is unknown. Their origins have been determined by the oral history, customs, and beliefs of Morobeans that were handed down the generations by word of mouth and have become vague.  Archaeologists assume Morobeans originated from Southern Asia who traveled through Indonesia to New Guinea and that several waves of migrant swept through the region thousands of years ago. The present ethnological state of the province suggests that these migrants may have passed through the region over a long period.

With a population of more than 600,000 Morobe Province is and as one of the densely populated provinces in Papua New Guinea. There are distinct languages spoken within the province, with English & Tok Pigin the common languages in the urban areas and with tok ples (distinctly different languages of each village) spoken in the rural and remote areas.
The Province played a strategic role in WW2, remnants of which still be found in many parts of the province ranging from shipwrecks, aircrafts, artillery, and gun emplacements. The WW2 tracks - Black Cat, Skin Diwai & Bulldog are now open to adventurous trekkers.

Morobe Province is home to number of interesting cultural and archeological sites - located on the Huon Peninsular are two sites – Bobongara is the oldest archeological site in the Pacific, the site consists of stone axes found on the edge of a relict uplifted lagoon which was occupied more than 400,000 years ago; the Huon Terraces are a “staircase” of ancient coral reefs and is one of the most remarkable examples of an uplifted marine terrace in the Pacific.

Provincial Setting
The provincial landmass including the sea area is 34,500 square kilometers. The total land area is 33,781 square kilometers; the maritime area is 719 square kilometers. The province is grouped into three geographical characteristics;      
  • the coastal and island
  • inland and mountain
  • river and valley areas.

Morobe Province share common boarders with West New Britain to the east, Madang Province to the north, Eastern Highlands to the west, Gulf Province to the south west, Central Province to the south and Oro Province to the south east. The Province is home to some of the world’s most spectacular terrain, virgin forests, tropical islands, Majestic Rivers, and the superb fertile Markham Valley stretching the length of the Province. Due to the diversity of the province, visitors are offered many choices – trekking, diving, bushwalking, fishing, bird watching, culture, wildlife and much more.


Morobe has 171 languages and 27 linguistic families which represent two types of main languages; Kotte spoken in the (Hinterlands) of Morobe and Yabem (Coastal) widely spoken in many coastal villages of the province. Along the coast and in the Markham Valley, the Austronesia type languages are spoken whilst the older Non-Austronesia lingua franca is spoken in the high mountain regions and the hinterlands thus also have different life styles.  English & Pidgin English are the common languages in the urban areas.

Tribes & Culture

There are about 34 tribal and cultural groups in the province. They range from the Yupna tribe of the high mountains in the Finisterre Range near Madang Provincial Border; the two groups of people; the Liewompa group of people who occupied the Lae region; whilst the Anga people, (fierce bowmen known as Kukukuku warriors), lived nomadic lives in the central mountains.

The grassland mountainous areas near the Papuan Border of Gulf Province are inhabited by the Anga (Kukukuku) people of Menyamya. The region retains its cultural heritage and uniqueness and virtually untouched by modern society. The people of Markham Valley Plain and those from the coastal regions near Lae are tall in height.

Lae City
Lae is Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) second largest and Industrial City and the Provincial Capital of Morobe - is linked to rest of PNG by air, sea and land transport, electrification, and telecommunications network. It is situated on the shores of the pristine Huon Gulf, 6 Degrees South of the Equator. The mountainous Finnistere, Sarawagat and Rawlingand ranges to the Northern Extension of Owen Stranley Range; The highest peak - Mt Bangita rises at 13,000 above the sea level form a majestic backdrop to this “Garden and Tropical City”.

Establishment of Lae is originally from was a tiny patrol post and mission station before the 1920s Wau Gold Rush. During the post war the Australian Neo - Colonial Administration shifted it headquarters from Morobe Patrol Post to Salamaua. The gold rush township of Wau transformed it into a major port and industrial centre.

In aviation history Lae was the last place to farewell famous American aviator Amelia Eerthart, as she flew on her maiden flight during the final leg of her around the world flight before disappearing without a trace. The provincial capital became a strategic base for the Japanese during World War II. The graves of thousands of allied soldiers killed during the pacific mayhem can be visited at the Lae War Cemetery, located within heart of the city at Lae Botanical Garden grounds.

Morobe Provincial Government
P.O. Box 1834, Lae
Phone: 473-1600 Fax: 472-4745