Muyu - Orientation

Identification. The Muyu live just south of the central mountains of Irian Jaya, just along the border with Papua New Guinea. The name Muyu is taken from the Muyu River, a tributary of the Kao River, itself a tributary of the Digul River.

Location. The Muyu area is between 5° and 7° S and 140°5′ and 141° E. The Muyu people originally inhabited the hilly country between the central highlands and the plains of the south coast. There is no dear wet or dry season in the Muyu area. The average (heavy) rainfall is between 400 and 650 centimeters per year, depending on the location in the area.

Demography. In 1956 the Muyu people numbered 12,223. At that time the total number of inhabitants of the administrative subdivision of Muyu was 17,269, although not all Muyu then lived in the subdivision. Muyu settlements were mostly found near Merauke (410 inhabitants in 1954). In 1984 about 7,000 Muyu fled over the border into Papua New Guinea, because of dissatisfaction with the situation in their own area. In 1989 a few thousand returned to Irian Jaya, partly to the Merauke area on the south coast. The population density averaged about 3 persons per square kilometer in 1956. The population growth rate is not high, but at the moment no exact figures are known. Traditionally, the Muyu are very mobile and easily migrate to other areas with more Economic opportunities.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Muyu speak dialects of Kati in the Ok Family of Papuan languages. A thorough analysis of the Muyu language and its relations with the languages of the surrounding people has yet to be done.

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