Introducing Enga Province
Enga is the highest and most rugged of all PNG’s provinces, and even other Highlanders refer to Engans as ‘mountain people’. The provincial capital of Wabag is more of an outlying town to Mt Hagen than a major centre. The two other main centres are Wapenamanda and Laiagam.
Enga is unique in that it has only one major linguistic and ethnic group, and the shared ethnicity of the Enga speakers overshadows the province’s minority tribes such as the Ipili speakers (around Porgera) and Nete speakers.
Porgera, the giant gold and copper mine in the far west, has brought about rapid change for some, but most people still grow cash crops – coffee, pyrethrum and cool-weather European vegetables – in their steep mountain gardens. Porgera is all but spent, but other nearby mineral finds mean that the mining town will be there a long while yet.
As late as 1960s, Enga was still largely independent of government control and tribal warfare still occurs today. Engans are well respected for their diplomacy and skill in the art of negotiation, but the provincial government also has the dubious distinction of having had its power suspended three times by the national government due to concerns over corruption and accountability.
Alcohol is prohibited in Enga and can’t even be bought in hotels. Vehicles coming from Mt Hagen are often stopped and searched by police for alcohol and firearms.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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