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.
The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 22 members. GP has five divisions and headquarters at Kerema. Small scale logging, gold mining, commercial fishing and copra are the main cash sector activities.
There is evidence of human occupation 3000 BP and pre-European trade with the highlands and coastal people to the east. Missionaries, miners and colonial administration officers arrived in the late 19th century. Gulf men were recruited as laborers and house servants to work in other parts of Papua, and many were conscripted as carriers during World War II.
Things to see and do
Arts and crafts: Art is still strong in the Gulf region with several distinct styles. Main items are masks, bullroarers, headrests, skull racks and gope boards. The latter were made for each act of bravery or successful conquest of an enemy and are elliptical and carved with abstract patterns or stylised figures.
Kaintiba: This area in the mountains behind the coast is good for walking. There are many villages and most have missions where it is possible to stay.
Lakekamu Basin: This huge forested basin is rich in birds and wildlife. During World War II, the Bulldog Track was pushed from Malalaua to Edie Creek near Wau in Morobe Province to carry provisions. Guesthouses in this area are located at Makara, Kakoro and Tekaku villages.
FYI: PNG’s 4 Regions & 22 Provinces
|Highlands||Eastern Highlands Province||Goroka|
|Western Highlands Province||Mt. Hagen|
|Southern Highlands Province||Mendi|
|Southern||National Capital District||Port Moresby|
|Central Province||Port Moresby|
|Oro (Northern) Province||Popondetta|
|Milne Bay Province||Alotau|
|East Sepik Province||Wewak|
|Sandaun (West Sepik) Province||Vanimo|
|New Guinea Islands||Manus Province||Lorengau|
|New Ireland Province||Kavieng|
|East New Britain Province||Kokopo|
|West New Britain Province||Kimbe|
|Autonomous Region of Bougainville||Buka|