Introduction / History
The Dima language is spoken by about 1,000 people in a remote part of Milne Bay Province. The Dima area is coastal and low-lying grass-land, much of which becomes swampy during the rainy season. The coast is hedged in with mangroves. Inland there is a plain of grass-covered hills containing many swampy areas filled with various trees and palms. The area is fairly isolated, it takes three days motorized boat travel to reach Alotau (the provincial capital). Some Dima people said they are "at the end of the world."
Most Dima people are subsistence farmers, they may also sell goods at local markets. The Dima have a reputation as providers of meat, especially bandicoot and wallaby. There is a tradition of competitive feasting between Dima clans and with some neighboring language groups, in which each village attempts to provide the pig with the largest girth. This may be less common now as people try to avoid becoming indebted to other villages.
Papua New Guinea enjoys freedom of religion. The Dima people have been exposed to Christian teaching for many years, since they live in an area with a number of Anglican churches. 90% of the Dima people would call themselves Christian, but only about 5% have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Services are usually conducted in English or Tok Pisin, languages they may not understand. There are six pastors and two missionaries working among the Dima people.
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