Identification. The Mae form a cultural and geographical subdivision of the Enga, who comprise most of the inhabitants of Enga Province in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. The Melpa to the east first called them Enga, a name that European explorers and later the people themselves have adopted.
Location. Wabag, the administrative center of Enga Province, is situated at about 5°30′ S and 143°45′ E. Mae exploit river valleys and mountain slopes between about 1,820 and 2,700 meters above sea level. Forested high ridges are uninhabited. Mean annual rainfall is about 300 centimeters, varying between 228 and 320 centimeters. Rain falls about 265 days a year, but there is a summer wet season (November to April) and a winter dry season (May to October). Winter droughts may occur, and at altitudes above 2,500 meters, winter frosts are common; both may cause food shortages.
Demography. In 1960 the then Wabag Subdistrict of about 8,710 square kilometers supported an indigenous Population estimated at 115,000, of whom about 30,000 were Mae. Central Enga population densities ranged from about 19 to 115 persons per square kilometer. By the mid-1980s the population of Enga Province exceeded 175,000, including at least 45,000 Mae, and population densities were generally higher.
linguistic Affiliation. Mae speak a dialect of Enga, one of the West-Central Family of the Central Highlands Stock of Papuan languages of Papua New Guinea.