Introduction / History
The Marik people of Papua New Guinea live in nine villages in the Trans Gogol Local Government Council area of Madang Province - just south and slightly to the west of the town of Madang. Their language is generally agreed to be Melanesian, although there is evidence of much Austronesian influence probably as a result of being surrounded by a variety of non-Austronesian peoples with whom they have kinship and trading ties. The population is about 6,000 and they live in an area of approximately 30 square miles.
The people are small averaging about 5' 2" in height for an adult male and considerably less for the female. They are generally very healthy and a number live into the seventies and beyond. There is a small incidence of infant mortality, and a number of women die in childbirth, sometimes tragically as a result of deciding to have their baby in the village where the necessary medical help is not available.
According to legend, the Marik people once lived on the coast between Riwo and Bilbil. It appears that an island off the coast in Astrolabe Bay subsided probably before 1800, and the people were able to escape to Bilbil Island and other places on the mainland. This caused population pressure resulting in some clans from the area moving inland. The story serves to explain the presence of an Austronesian language group from the coast by intervening non-Austronesian language groups.
The climate is hot and wet. The average daily temperature is 23 C minimum with a maximum of 31 C. The annual rainfall is between 350 and 500 mm. The vegetation is of the tropical rain forest type and there is sufficient land to permit cultivation of edible crops.
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