The Autonomous Region of Bougainville (formerly known as the Northern Solomons Province) is comprised of two main islands, Bougainville Island and Buka Island, and many small islands and atolls. In total, the region’s terrestrial area covers approximately 9,384km2. The region is organised into three sub-districts; North, Central and South. The landscape is a mix of coastal and mountainous areas with the highest feature, Mount Balbi, reaching 2,715m above sea level.
The population of Bougainville was recorded as 249,358 in the 2011 census but is estimated to now be around 300,000. Its people, Bougainvilleans, are mostly Melanesian but there are also descendants of Micronesian and Polynesian origin (mostly from the outer atolls). The majority of the population live outside the three main urban centres in villages.
There are at least 19 distinct indigenous languages in Bougainville. Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinean Pidgin English) is the lingua franca across the districts and English is also widely spoken.
Most of the region is humid and hot with an annual mean temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Rainfall decreases further north in the Region from 4500mm in the South of Bougainville Island to 2500mm in the North of Buka Island.
A referal hospital is located in Buka Town and Arawa has a large health centre. Small health centres are located across the region. Bougainville is prone to tropical and mosquito-borne diseases.
The region experiences earthquakes and is vulnerable to tsunamis on its coastal areas. Bougainville Island also has a number of active volcanoes. The region does not experience tropical cyclones but in the event of strong rainfall river crossings and bridges are prone to flooding.
There are three main town centres in the Region; Buka Town, Arawa and Buin.
Buka Town - Located on the Buka Island shore of the Buka Passage (the channel separating Bougainville and Buka Islands), Buka Town is the current capital of the Region and hosts the Autonomous Government’s headquarters. Transport to Bougainville Island from Buka Town is available at several boat stops in the centre of town. Taxi and PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) services are also available for getting around Buka Town. Buka Town also has an airport which is regularly serviced via Port Moresby and Rabaul.
Arawa - Formally the capital of the province, Arawa is located in Central Bougainville. Prior to the crisis Arawa was a busy town during the active years of the nearby Panguna Copper Mine. Taxis and PMVs also operate in Arawa. Nearby on the coast south from the township is Kieta/Aropa Airport and Kieta Port.
Buin - Located in Bougainville’s Southern District, Buin is accessible from Arawa via two roads (one following the Eastern coast or one passing by the Panguna Mine). Buin’s proximity to the southern coast of Bougainville also means it is an informal point of contact with the neighbouring Solomon Islands.
- New Year's Day - 1st January
- Good Friday - 25th March
- Easter Saturday - 26th March
- Easter Sunday - 27th March
- Easter Monday - 28th March
- Queen's Birthday - 13th June
- ABG Inauguration Day - 15th June
- National Rememberance Day 23rd July
- National Covenant Day - 26th August
- PNG Independence Day - 16th September
- Christmas Day - 25th December
- Boxing Day - 26th December
The Autonomous Region of Bougainville uses equivalent to GMT+11, this is referred to as Bougainville Standard Time (one hour ahead of the time used in the other regions of Papua New Guinea, GMT+10).
CURRENCY AND BANKING:
The unit of currency in Bougainville is the Papua New Guinea Kina (PGK) which is divided into 100 toea. The Bank of South Pacific (BSP) is the only commercial bank in Bougainville and has branches in Buka and Arawa. Normal banking hours are Monday to Thursday, 9:00am to 3:00pm and Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm.
The Region uses the same international dialling code as PNG (+675). Digicel has the most extensive mobile telephone and internet coverage at about 80% of Bougainville including Buka, Tinputz, Wakunai, Arawa, Panguna, Bana, Siwai and Buin. Radio Ples Lain 89.1 FM is a mobile community radio programme operated by the ABG’s Bureau of Public Affairs Media and Communications. NBC Bougainville (Buka - 94.5 FM, Arawa 95.5 FM) is one of the 19 PNG National Broadcasting Commission radio stations. New Dawn 95.3 FM is a private commercial radio station located in Buka Town. Cable/satellite television is available.
Bougainville is a region of Papua New Guinea so the national immigration and visa conditions apply just as in all other parts of Papua New Guinea. Tourist visas are available upon arrival in Port Moresby to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom and many European countries, provided onward air-tickets are carried by the visitor. Duration of stay in Papua New Guinea is a maximum of 60 days. If in doubt, contact the nearest Papua New Guinea High Commission/Consulate, or the Australian High Commission/Embassy. For further information, visit PNG Immigration Services or the PNG Tourism Website.
POST OFFICE AND COURIERS:
PNG Post in Buka is open from 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and from 9.00am to 12pm on Saturdays. An express service (EMS) is available, with delivery to Australia usually within 48 hours. Postal Deliveries are made to Post Office boxes that can be rented out by companies and individuals. TNT and DHL couriers have agents in Buka Town.
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