Kilenge - Orientation

Identification and Location. The Kilenge, subsistence swidden horticulturalists, live along a 4-kilometer coastal stretch on the northwest tip of the island of New Britain, 5°28′ S, 148°22′ E. They are part of the Kilenge-Lolo District of the province of West New Britain in Papua New Guinea. A reef about 1 kilometer offshore fringes the coastline, and the land rises from the beach to the peak of Mount Talave (an extinct volcano), some 1,834 meters high. The bulk of Talave shields the Kilenge villages from Langila, an active volcanic spur of the mountain. Rainfall averages some 300 centimeters per year, with much of the rain coming during the northwest monsoon (December to March). A marked dry period (July to September) causes occasional droughts. Daily temperature usually exceeds 25° C.

Demography. In 1982, approximately 1,000 Kilenge lived in northwest New Britain settlements. Another 400 to 600 Kilenge lived elsewhere as students, wage laborers, or their dependents. Family size averaged about five children per couple.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Kilenge speak a dialect of Male'u, a language they share with their inland Lolo Neighbors. Male'u is an Austronesian language, part of the Siassi or Vitiaz Family of languages.

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