Western Province (WP), the largest province, covers 99,300 square kilometers of country. There are mountains in the north of the province, but most of it is low-lying with a seasonal alternation of inundation and drought. It is the most sparsely populated of the provinces and the one with the most serious health problems caused by malnutrition as well as endemic diseases. The population rose from 78,600 in 1980 to 108,700 in 1990, and to 201,351 in 2011. Over 50 languages are spoken. The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 24 elected, and three appointed, members. There are five districts and the headquarters is on the off-shore island of Daru. Most attempts to produce coffee, copra and rubber have been unsuccessful. The main product is copper produced by the Ok Tedi mine. Timber and fish are also exported.
There is evidence of human occupation 15,000 BP. There have been trading and cultural links with the islands of Torres Strait, and with Cape York Pensinsula, Australia. British colonial officers entered the area in the 1890s but little white settlement followed. WP has PNG’s longest river, the Fly. and over half its lakes, including the largest lake, Lake Murray. The mouth of the Fly was discovered by Europeans in 1842. D’Albertis traveled extensively on the Fly in 1876. WP shares a 480-kilometer border with the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has settled several thousand Irian Jayan refugees who have crossed the border to escape fighting between Indonesian troops and the rebel Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM).
Things to see and do
Balimo: Inland from the capital Daru, this missionary town on the Aramia River has a cultural centre and nearby villages specialise in carvings typical of the region.
Bensbach: While there are few people, this area of vast floodplain close to the Indonesian border teems with wildlife and birds. The Bensbach River is renowned for big barrumundi and is a haven for keen fishers, birdwatchers and of course for photographers.
Tabubil: Built to service the Ok Tedi mine, Tabubil sits in a wide forested valley and has all services to cater for the large ex-pat population. Birdlife in the region includes 16 different Birds of Paradise. Other things to do are playing golf (nine holes), running with the Hash House Harriers, or you can rent a vehicle and explore the Lukwi caves 18km along the Okma Road.
Kiunga: Ore slurry is piped from Tabubil to Kiunga then taken downstream on barges to waiting vessels. The rough road linking the two towns offers great birdwatching opportunities.
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|