Papua New Guinea
Mount Hagen (Western Highlands)
From the lowland rainforest, to alpine grasslands, to the shrouded misty peaks, Western Highlands Province is a land of colour and vibrancy. The capital city, Mt Hagen is a bustling commercial centre where wealth from coffee and tea plantations has brought rapid change to traditional life style. Old and new ways live curiously together, not always harmoniously. Mt Hagen has a reputation as the "Wild frontier" of the Highlands.

The Saturday market in Mt Hagen is a focal point of local life and provides a meeting place for traders from all over the province. It's a kaleidoscope of fruit and vegetables, birds, animals, people in bright shirts and skirts, some wearing flowers or grass in their hair. The men traditionally wear a long bread and the women wear an array of brilliant scarves and carry their brightly coloured string bags. These bags, called bilums, are used to carry everything from babies to firewood and are made by threading an entire length of string through each loop. Traditionally the string is made from tree bark, although these days many women buy synthetic yarn from the local stores for their bilums. The Mt Hagen market is an opportune place to purchase traditionally made bilums.

Handicrafts can also be found at the Western Highlands Cultural Centre in Mt Hagen. It features a reconstructed village hut and has a museum with exhibits of artefacts and curios.

Sing-sings are held regularly throughout the province. These are gatherings of clans in traditional costume where ritualistic dancing and singsing is performed for ceremonial reasons. Sing-sings are not normally staged as a public performance. However there are many opportunities throughout the year to watch a ceremonial sing-sing. The most popular time to visit Mt Hagen is August when the annual show is held. Hundreds of different Highland tribes are represented, each wearing their distinctive tribal head dresses of feathers and flowers and body paint. It is a wonderful opportunity to see a glimpse of the richness of traditional Highlands social structure.

Away from Mt Hagen, Western part of the Province offers spectacular walking and trekking adventures. The Wahgi Valley is a magnificent natural tract of lush greens, roaring rivers, virgin rainforest and ordered gardens. There are several walks available depending on time and energy. For the serious trekker, the 4509 metre summit of Mt Wilhelm can also be reached from Mt Hagen.

From the lowland rainforest, to alpine grasslands, to the shrouded misty peaks, Western Highlands Province is a land of colour and vibrancy. The capital city, Mt Hagen is a bustling commercial centre where wealth from coffee and tea plantations has brought rapid change to traditional life style. Old and new ways live curiously together, not always harmoniously. Mt Hagen has a reputation as the "wild frontier" of the Highlands.

The Saturday market in Mt Hagen is a focal point of local life and provides a meeting place for traders from all over the province. It's a kaleidoscope of fruit and vegetables, birds, animals, people in bright shirts and skirts, some wearing flowers or grass in their hair. The men traditionally wear a long beard and the women wear an array of brilliant scarves and carry their brightly coloured string bags. These bags, called bilums, are used to carry everything from babies to firewood and are made by threading an entire length of string through each loop. Traditionally the string is made from tree bark, although these days many women buy synthetic yarn from the local stores for their bilums. The Mt Hagen market is an opportune place to purchase traditionally made bilums.

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Mount Hagen, centrally located in the Highlands is the main commercial centre of the Highlands Region. Recently declared the third city in Papua New Guinea, Mount Hagen offers most modern amenities and standard type hotels supplemented by a series of village based lodges and guest houses.

Mount Hagen one of the busiest airports in PNG is easily accessible by daily Air Niugini flights from Port Moresby and two flights a week direct from Cairns, Australia. Third level airlines also provide services from other regional centres.

The national Highlands Highway runs through Mount Hagen from the coastal township Lae and a connection from Madang.

SUMMARY
Population: 335 592 citizens and 586 expatriates.
Land area: 8500 square km.
Members in Parliament: 8.
Headquarters: Mount Hagen.

Districts; citizens; major languages:

  • Hagen Central, hq at Mount Hagen;108 629; Melpa, Gawigl.
  • Hagen North, hq at Muglamp; 86 134; Melpa, Enga Kayaka.
  • Jimi, hq at Tabibuga; 33 354; Ganja, Narak, Maring, Kalam.
  • Tarnbul; 28 374; Gawigl.
  • Wahgi, hq at Minj; 79 101; Wahgi.