Identification. "Wamira" is the name for both the village and its residents, and it is used by Wamirans as well as by outsiders.
Location. Wamira lies in Milne Bay Province, the most southeastern province of Papua New Guinea, at 10°1′ S and 150°2′ E. The village is located directly on the southern shore of Goodenough Bay, midway between the rounded mouth of the bay at Sirisiri and the long spindly tip of East Cape. The residential area stretches along the shore for about 2.5 kilometers between the Uruam and Wamira rivers. A large alluvial plain with fertile garden land lies behind the hamlets and extends into the foothills that rise farther inland to become the Owen Stanley peaks. These massive mountains create a rain shadow, and Wamira—like the 30 kilometers of coastal land to its west—is uncharacteristically dry and savannalike for a tropical lowland environment. The region receives an average of only 140 centimeters of rainfall a year. Seasonal extremes in rainfall create a dry and a wet season. The dry season is Unusually long, lasting from approximately April to December. During this time it is not unusual for three months to pass with uninterrupted, scorching sun. The temperature remains fairly constant during both seasons. The mean annual Temperature is 27° C; the lowest temperature at night is about 17° C, and the highest, around noon, is 35° C.
Demography. The population, although large compared to the surrounding villages, is moderate in size. From 1896, when the earliest population figures were recorded, until today, the population within the village has remained relatively constant, hovering around 400. Since contact and the first recording of population figures, however, there has been a threefold increase in total Wamiran population. The excess population, which has increased exponentially, is drained off by out-migration from Wamira. Thus the total Wamiran Population in Papua New Guinea today is about 1,200, only one-third of whom live in the village. The remainder of the Wamirans live in other villages and many now live in towns. Due to the attraction of town life and its employment opportunities for young people, both men and women in the 20-30 age bracket are poorly represented within the village.
linguistic Affiliation. The language, which is Austronesian, was given the name "Wedau" by early missionaries. Wedau is the native language of the people who live in the neighboring coastal villages of Wedau, Wamira, Divari, and Lavora. Wedau language belongs to the larger Taupota Family of languages, which includes the three languages of Taupota, Tawara, and Garuai spoken along the coast to the east of Wamira. As one moves east within the Taupota Language Family, one encounters gradual shifts in vocabulary due to phonological and morphological changes between neighboring villages. In classic dialect-chain fashion, although intermediate forms differ only by small steps, the farther away one moves, the more unintelligible in relation to Wedau the Languages become. The missionaries mastered Wedau within a few years of their arrival in 1891. They then taught the local people to read and write, so that today nearly all Wedau speakers are literate in their own tongue. Because Wedau was the language learned by the missionaries and was used to preach in church and teach in school, it soon became the lingua franca of the larger geographical area that extends along the coast and into the mountains. Today, Wamiran school-children are taught in English by teachers from other regions of Papua New Guinea. Most younger Wamirans are fairly fluent in English, although they are often too shy to speak it.