Mailu - Orientation

Identification. The Mailu are a Papuo-Melanesian people of the southern coast of eastern Papua New Guinea and its adjacent islands. In addition to serving as a generic term for the people as a whole, who also at times refer to themselves as Magi, the name "Mailu" also refers to the most important Village of the area, on Mailu Island.

Location. Mailu territory extends along the southern Papuan coast from Cape Rodney in the east to Orangerie Bay in the west, and there are several villages on the larger of the off-shore islands along this portion of the coast. Rainfall is quite heavy here, during both the "dry" season of the southeast trade winds (May to November) and the even wetter season of the northwest monsoons (January to March). The climate is tropical, supporting a rain-forest vegetation throughout much of the territory; the topography changes to flatter swamplands in the western reaches of the region. Mailu Island, alone in the region, has ample clay suitable for pottery; it has no swampland, however, and therefore its inhabitants are dependent upon the mainland for access to sago.

Linguistic Affiliation. Magi is one of the languages in the Mailuan Family.

Demography. In 1980, the population of Mailu speakers was estimated at 6,000.

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