Kwoma - Orientation



Identification. The Kwoma are located in the Ambunti Sub-Province of the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. The people are divided into two dialect groups. One is located in the Washkuk Hills, a range of low mountains on the north side of the Sepik adjacent to the Ambunti Patrol Post; the other is situated to the north and west of the Washkuk range along tributaries of the Sepik. Members of the former identify themselves as "Kwoma," or "hill people," and refer to the latter as "Nukuma," or "headwater people." Linguists give the name Kwoma to the language as a whole and Nukuma to its northern dialect. "Washkuk" or Waskuk is a government name of uncertain derivation for the language and the people.

Location. The total area the people occupy coincides roughly with that of the Washkuk Hills Census District, an area of 485 kilometers located between 4° and 5° S and 142° and 143° E. Climate is of the tropical-forest type.

Demography. Kwoma speakers in the Washkuk Hills number approximately 2,000, Nukuma speakers 1,200. Population density is 5.8 persons per square kilometer.

linguistic Affiliation. Kwoma is one of ninety or so distinct Papuan or Non-Austronesian languages that make up the Sepik-Ramu Phylum-Kwoma is classified in the Nukuma Language Family.

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