Identification. The Chimbu live in the Chimbu, Koro, and Wahgi valleys in the mountainous central highlands of Papua New Guinea. An ethnic and linguistic group, not traditionally a political entity, the Chimbu are speakers of Kuman and related dialects. Most people living in the Chimbu homeland identify themselves first and foremost as members of particular clans and tribes—identification as "Chimbus" is restricted primarily to occasions of interaction with nonethnically Chimbus. The term Chimbu was given to the people by the first Australian explorers (in the early 1930s) who heard the word simbu (an expression of pleased surprise in the Kuman language) exclaimed by the people at first meetings with the explorers.
Location. The Chimbu homeland is in the northern part of Simbu Province, in the central Cordillera Mountains of New Guinea, around the coordinates 6° S and 145° E. They live in rugged mountain valleys between 1,400 and 2,400 meters above sea level, where the climate is temperate, with Precipitation averaging between 250 and 320 centimeters per year. To the east live the Chuave and Siane, and to the north live the Bundi of the upper Jimi Valley. In many ways Culturally very similar to the Chimbu are the Kuma (Middle Wahgi) people living to the west. South of the Chimbu in the lower Wahgi and Marigl valleys are Gumine peoples, and farther south are lower altitude areas, lightly settled by Pawaia and Mikaru (Daribi) speakers.
Demography. Approximately 180,000 people live in the 6,500 square kilometers of Simbu Province. Of those, more than one-third live in the traditional homeland areas of the Kuman-speaking Chimbu. In most of the northern areas of the province, population densities exceed 150 persons per square kilometer, and in some census divisions population densities exceed 300 persons per square kilometer.
Linguistic Affiliation. Kuman and related languages (SinaSina, Chuave, Gumine) are part of the Central Family of the East New Guinea Highlands Stock of Papuan languages.