Western Province (Papua New Guinea)

Western Province is a coastal province in southwestern Papua New Guinea, bordering the Indonesian province of Papua. The provincial capital is Daru. The largest town in the province is Tabubil. Other major settlements are Kiunga, Ningerum, Olsobip and Balimo.

Western Province
Westen Provins (Tok Pisin)
Fly River Province
Western Province in Papua New Guinea
Coordinates: 7°20′S 142°0′E
CountryPapua New Guinea
  • North Fly
  • Middle Fly
  • South Fly
  • Delta Fly
  GovernorTaboi Awi Yoto (since 2017)
  Total98,189 km2 (37,911 sq mi)
 (2011 census)
  Density2.1/km2 (5.3/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+10 (AEST)
HDI (2018)0.550[1]
medium · 11th of 22

The provincial government has, as with the governments of North Solomons, Chimbu and Northern provinces, sought to change the name of the province. The government uses the name Fly River Provincial Government; however, this remains unofficial as it has not been changed in the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.

Geography and ecology

Western Province covers 99,300 km² and is the largest province in Papua New Guinea by area.[2][3] There are several large rivers that run through the province, including the Fly River and its tributaries the Strickland and Ok Tedi rivers. The largest lake in Papua New Guinea, Lake Murray, is also in Western Province.[4]

This province is the only part of Papua New Guinea to hold land west of the 141°E line, which divides it from Indonesian Western New Guinea. This is a small section of territory bordered by the Fly River.[5]

The Tonda Wildlife Management Area in the south-western corner of the province is a wetland of international importance.[6] It is the largest protected area in Papua New Guinea.[7]

The flora and fauna of much of Western Province resemble those of northern Australia. Flora includes eucalyptus, melaleuca, acacia, and banksias. Fauna includes wallabies, bandicoots, goannas, coastal taipans, and mound-building termites.[8]:648

The drier, southern parts of the province have eucalyptus and melaleuca savannas (the Trans-Fly savanna and grasslands) that support large populations of birds, wallabies, and introduced deer, with dense rainforests being located to the north. The dry season is from July–November, while the wet season is from December–June. Sago cultivation dominates the wetter north, while yam cultivation dominates the drier south.[8]:648


There were 201,351 inhabitants in Western Province in the 2011 census, residing in 31,322 households. Of these, 79,349 people were recorded in Middle Fly District, 62,850 in North Fly District and 59,152 in South Fly District. The average household size across the province was 6.4.[9]


The Ok Tedi Mine

The major economic activity in the province is constituted by the Ok Tedi Mine, initially established by BHP and the subject of considerable litigation by traditional landowners both in respect of environmental degradation and disputes over royalties. It is currently operated by Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML).[10]

Districts and LLGs

District map of Western Province

There are three districts in the province. Each district has one or more Local Level Government (LLG) areas. For census purposes, the LLG areas are subdivided into wards and those into census units.[11]

DistrictDistrict CapitalLLG Name
North Fly District Kiunga Kiunga Rural
Kiunga Urban
Ningerum Rural
Olsobip Rural
Star Mountains Rural
Middle Fly District Balimo Balimo Urban
Bamu Rural
Gogodala Rural
Lake Murray Rural
Nomad Rural
South Fly District Daru Daru Urban
Kiwai Rural
Morehead Rural
Oriomo-Bituri Rural

Provincial leaders

The province was governed by a decentralised provincial administration, headed by a Premier, from 1977 to 1995. Following reforms taking effect that year, the national government reassumed some powers, and the role of Premier was replaced by a position of Governor, to be held by the winner of the province-wide seat in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.[12][13]

Premiers (1977–1995)

Premier Term
Tatie Olewale1977–1983
Semai Aitowai1983–1985
provincial government suspended1985–1988
Norbert Makmop1988–1991
Isidore Kaseng1992–1995

Governors (1995–present)

Governor Term
Dere Wamaro1992–1997
Norbert Makmop1997–2002
Bob Danaya2002–2012
Ati Wobiro2012–2017
Taboi Awe Yoto2017–present

Members of the National Parliament

The province and each district is represented by a Member of the National Parliament. There is one provincial electorate and each district is an open electorate.

Electorate Member
Western ProvincialTaboi Awi Yotto
Delta Fly OpenAgena Gamai
North Fly OpenJames Donald
Middle Fly OpenMaso Hewabi
South Fly OpenSekie Agisa

See also


  1. "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  2. Papua New Guinea 2000 Census: Western. National Statistical Office. p. 7.
  3. Strategic Directions for Human Development in Papua New Guinea. Australian Agency for International Development. 2007. p. 180. ISBN 9780821369883.
  4. "Western". Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  5. Frank Jacobs (March 13, 2012). "Who Bit My Border?". The New York Times.
  6. Ramsar report for Tonda Wildlife Management Area Archived September 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 28 June 2010
  7. UNESCO: Trans-Fly Complex, retrieved 28 June 2010
  8. Evans, Nicholas (2018). "The languages of Southern New Guinea". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. Vol. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 641–774. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  9. "Final Figures Booklet". National Population & Housing Census 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  10. "Social Impact of the Ok Tedi Mine on the Yonggom Villages of the North Fly, 1992" (PDF). Ok-Fly Social Monitoring Project Report No. 5. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  11. National Statistical Office of Papua New Guinea
  12. May, R. J. "8. Decentralisation: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back". State and society in Papua New Guinea: the first twenty-five years. Australian National University. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  13. "Provinces". rulers.org. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
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