Before European contact, the Mafulu maintained trade and exchange relations with the neighboring Tauade and Kunimaipa and with the more distant Mekeo. Early contact Between the Mafulu and the Sacred Heart Mission and the Government in the late 1880s was characterized by open conflict. In 1905, the Sacred Heart Mission was established at Popolé. Ethnographic research has been limited to R. W. Williamson's research in 1910, which remains the basis for most Ethnographic data on the Mafulu and is the time of reference for this summary. Additional material was written (and some published) by members of the Sacred Heart Mission and reflects pre-World War II Mafulu society. Mafulu communities were not directly affected by combat during World War II. Following the war, many young men left the area to work as laborers on plantations along the coast and at Kokoda. More recently, others have moved to the Port Moresby area for employment. The region itself has remained relatively isolated because the mountainous terrain has hindered the development of roads. The region is serviced by a small, local airstrip.