Manus - Orientation



Identification. The terms "Manus" and "Manusian" denote people native to Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. Manus also denotes the Titan-speaking people of the coast and offshore islands of the southeastern part of the province, who had the most intense early contact with White colonists. People can refer to each other by their language, village, or local area names, often the same. Also, they can use terms that denote other significant differences. Examples include electoral district names, terms denoting "islanders" (Historically fishing and trading people) or "mainlanders" (Historically agriculturalists) and terms denoting residents or those who have migrated elsewhere.

Location. Manus Province consists of a mainland (the main island of Manus and the barely separated island of Los Negros) and offshore islands, mostly to the southeast and north. It also includes several islands to the far west, inhabited by a set of ethnically distinct people not discussed here. Manus is in the Admiralty Islands at about 2° S and 147° E. The mainland is about 96 kilometers long and 24 kilometers wide, about 272 kilometers north-northeast of the Madang coast on the main island of New Guinea. It and some larger, volcanic islands are relatively fertile, but many smaller islands are infertile sand cays. The seasons are those of the southeast trade winds (April to October) and the northwestern monsoon (October to April). The monsoon has higher tide levels, greater cloudiness, and frequent storms, but the whole year is hot and wet.

Demography. In 1980, there were about 26,000 Manus people, of whom about 6,000 lived elsewhere in Papua New Guinea. This is more than twice the population reported in the first reliable estimates, early in the twentieth century.

Linguistic Affiliation. Manus languages are a distinct family of Austronesian languages, with four subfamilies: Eastern Mainland Manus (the largest), Western Mainland Manus, Northern Islands, and Southeastern Islands. There is little agreement on the origin of the languages. Estimates of their number range from eighteen to forty, and they share some grammatical and vocabulary elements. Many people from small, linguistically unique villages may understand three or four different languages; almost all speak Melanesian Pidgin; most speak some English.

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