Hela is a province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital is Tari. The province covers an area of 10,498 km², and there are 249,449 inhabitants (2011 census figures). Hela province officially came into being on 17 May 2012, comprising three districts previously part of Southern Highlands Province.
FYI: The Start of the Hela Movement
No discussion of the Hela movement would be complete without mentioning the deep religious and spiritual mythology underpinning the Hela people. The Hela people see themselves as comprised of a number of clans living in a federation, ultimately seeking self-determination which amounts to the ability to define their civilisation through the Hela world view and philosophy. The creation of a Hela provincial government would formalise the existing Hela clans and allow for the recognition of the Hela world view and philosophy. The Hela world view, ‘revolved around the value of the ultimate common good of the collective wellbeing of this clan state’.
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Jiwaka Province spreads across the fertile Wahgi Valley, the birth place of modern agriculture, 10,000 years ago with the Wahgi River running through the Valley. The province is bordered by the Bismarck Range to the north, which forms part of the highest mountain peak in Papua New Guinea, Mt William (4960m) in Simbu Province. The Bismarck Range acts as the natural boundary for Jimi district, with Simbu to the east of Jiwaka and Madang Province further north of Jiwaka. This part of the province is relatively mountainous and very sparsely populated and has the least infrastructure development. The southern part of Jiwaka, Kambia, is naturally bordered by the Kubor Range, which is part of the central backbone mountain range of Papua New Guinea. The mountain range divides Jiwaka from the Bomai, South Simbu people, and further southwest to the South Wiru people of Pangia district, Southern Highlands Province. These areas are also very mountainous and are the least developed in terms of infrastructure and economic development.
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The 168 islands of Autonomous Region of Bougainville, previously known as the North Solomons Province (NSP), cover 9,300 square kilometers made up of Bougainville and Buka islands, and a number of small islands and island groups. Bougainville lies in a region which has seen much volcanic activity in the past, and much of the coastal plain consists of rich volcanic soil. An eruption of the Bagana volcano was recorded in 1887, and it has erupted violently on several occasions since. There are several good natural harbors.
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Central Province (CP), which covers 30,000 square kilometers on PNG’s south coast, includes natural harbors, coastal plains and swamps. Behind the coastal strip rise mountains belonging to the central cordillera. There are marked wet and dry seasons, especially on the coast, and total rainfall is lower than in other provinces. Vegetation varies from mangrove swamps, through grasslands and lightly timbered country to rain forests and alpine grasslands. On the coastal strip, plants with close Australian relatives, e.g., gum trees (Eucalypt) species and tea-trees (Melaleuca) species are frequently found.
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Chimbu, occasionally spelled Simbu, Province (SP) covers 6,181 square kilometers of mountains and intermontane high valleys in the middle of the highlands. On its border is Mt Wilhelm (4,509 meters), PNG’s highest mountain. The population rose from 178,300 in 1980 to 183,800 in 1990. Twenty-one languages are spoken. The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for an elected Assembly of 27 members. There are seven districts and the headquarters is at Kundiawa. In 1953 Kundiawa was linked to the coastal town of Lae by the Highlands Highway. The main product is coffee produced by PNG smallholders.
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East New Britain Provincial (ENBP) covers 15,500 square kilometers of the island of New Britain and 46 smaller islands. The mainland includes the fertile and densely populated Gazelle Peninsula, the Baining mountains and the eastern section of the Nakanai mountains. There are a number of active volcanoes.
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East Sepik Province (ESP), the second largest province in Papua New Guinea, covers 42,800 square kilometers of the mainland and a number of offshore islands. The region is one of tectonic instability; there are frequent earth tremors and landslides, and an active volcano on Bam Island. The terrain ranges from the broad flood plain of the Sepik River and swamps in the east, through hill country to steep mountains in the west. The population increased from 221,900 in 1980 to 248,300 in 1990. Over 90 languages are spoken.
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Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) covers 11,200 square kilometers of rugged mountains, broad valleys and hills in approximately the center of PNG. EHP has on its border Mt Wilhelm, the highest peak in PNG. Rainfall averages 1,500 to 2,000mm p.a. but droughts can occur in the dry months of July and August. Days are warm and nights cool except in the colder high altitudes. Vegetation includes grasslands, rain forest and Castanopsis and Nothofagus forests. Human occupation is densest in the intermontane valleys, where the grasslands have resulted from forest clearance for gardening.
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Enga Province (EP) covers 12,800 square kilometers in the mountainous western highlands. The population rose from 164,500 in 1980 to 238,400 in 1990. Over 90 percent of the people in the province speak some form of the Engan language. There are more speakers of Engan than of any other single language in PNG. The Constitution, adopted in 1978, provides for a House of Assembly of 23 elected members and one member appointed by the national government. EP has six districts. The headquarters are at Wabag. Other towns include Laiagam and Wapenamanda. By far the most important export is gold from the Porgera mining project. Coffee and small quantities of pyrethrum are grown. The rugged terrain makes road construction difficult and EP has a poorly developed communications system.
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Gulf Province (GP) covers 34,500 square kilometers in the south of the main island. It has high mountains in the north, swamps on the coast and many lakes and rivers. The population rose from 64,100 in 1980 to 68,000 in 1990. Twenty-six languages are spoken. Many people speak Hiri Motu, one of PNG’s three official languages, in addition to their local language. There was missionary activity along the coast from the 1870s, and later a few copra plantations were established by Australians. But the swampy coastal regions (where virulent forms of malaria were and are endemic) and the rugged interior offered little to attract white settlement.
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