Goodenough Island - Orientation

Identification. Goodenough Island (Morata on the earliest maps) was named by Captain John Moresby in 1874 in memory of a British naval colleague. The earliest ethnography, by Diamond Jenness and Rev. A. Ballantyne, focused on coastal Bwaidoka in the southeast; the most intensive Studies, by Michael Young, concentrate on Kalauna, a mountain village in east-central Goodenough.

Location. Goodenough, at 9° S, 150° E, is the western-most of three rugged islands of the D'Entrecasteaux Archipelago of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. With mountains rising to 2,440 meters it is the highest island in the group, though with an area of about 777 square kilometers it is second to Fergusson in size. Rain forest is extensive on these islands and the higher mountains are uninhabited. Secondary forest and grasslands prevail on the coastal plains and lower slopes. The region is tropical, with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. There are two main seasons: the cooler southeasterly winds (May-October) dominate the year, while the hot northwest monsoon (December-March) brings sudden squalls. Rainfall is within the range of 152-254 centimeters per annum according to location. Serious droughts occur once or twice a decade, hurricanes even less frequently.

Demography. At the 1980 census there were about 12,500 islanders in residence and another 1,000 abroad. More than half of them live in the southeast of the island with a density of about 38 persons per square kilometer; elsewhere the population density averages 10 persons per square kilometer.

Linguistic Affiliation. The four languages of Goodenough (Bwaidoka, Iduna, Diodio, and Buduna or Wataluma) belong to the Milne Bay Family (or "Papuan Tip Cluster") of Austronesian languages. The dominant language on the Island is Bwaidoka, adopted as a lingua franca by the Wesleyan (Methodist) Mission at the turn of the century.

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