West New Britain Province

West New Britain Province

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West New Britain Province

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West New Britain is a province of Papua New Guinea on the islands of New Britain. The provincial capital is Kimbe. The area of the province in 21,000 km², and there are 184,508 inhabitants (2000 census). West New Britain produces palm oil for export. There are seven major tribes, the Nakanai, Bakovi, Kove, Unea, Maleu, Kaulong and Arowe, speaking a total of about 25 languages.

People from West New Britain are widely referred to as "Kombes" throughout Papua New Guinea, in metonymic reference to the significant Kove (or Kombe) people. The Kove people were extensively reported on by the anthropologist Ann Chowning in National Geographic magazine during the 1960s and in consequence a photographic record of their traditional lifestyle has been widely disseminated. Within Papua New Guinea they are most widely noted for their practice of superincision of the penis — circumcision is generally though inaccuratedly referred to among Papua New Guineans as "the Kombe cut" — a practice formerly also in other regions of northern coastal regions of New Guinea island and the New Guinea Islands but which has elsewhere lapsed.

The predominant religious affiliation is Roman Catholic, though there is a sizeable Anglican presence at the extreme western tip of the province and Bishop James Ayong, the recently-retired Anglican Primate of Papua New Guinea, is originally from West New Britain.

There are substantial oil palm plantations on the north coast of the...
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