East Sepik Province: Papua New Guinea Business Guide


Most of the rest of the province’s geography is dominated by the Sepik River, one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of water flow. The Sepik, which flows 1126 kilometres from source to the sea, frequently floods and the river’s level can alter by as much as five metres over the course of the year. The southern areas of the province are taken up by the Hunstein Ranges.

A man with crocodile scarification. Credit: David Kirkland

Economic overview

East Sepik has a mainly rural economy; 90 per cent of the inhabitants live in the rural areas. The emphasis is on subsistence agriculture and cash crops of coffee, cocoa, copra and rubber. Farmers have been encouraged to diversify, supplying seeds for the production of spices: chillies, pepper, nutmeg and vanilla. The province’s government was the first to register all customary land, a system that allows for group ownership and a stable environment for investors. All coffee and cocoa is small-holder produced. Breeding programs for pork and bacon production are being developed, and feed, pens, solar panels and freezers are being used to encourage small-holder crocodile breeding. The Sepik river system is a natural habitat for crocodiles. More than half of crocodile skins harvested from the wild in PNG and exported overseas come from the river.

The Frieda River project, which is on the border of the East Sepik and West Sepik (Sandaun) provinces, represents one of the largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits in the world. The plans for the project include creating a standalone hydropower station from the mine’s operations, and developing extensive road infrastructure for the remote area.


East Sepik Province is a wonder of mountains, islands, beautiful beaches and great river systems. There is a scattering of islands, and coastal ranges dominate the landscape just inland of the coast. It is one of the most visited of all PNG’s provinces, with particular interest in the massive river.

Visitors can take a motorised canoe trip on the Lower Sepik River for birdwatching or stay in village guesthouses. Luxury cruises on The Sepik Spirit, are also available. The best market in the region is Taun Market, in Wewak, at the end of the main street, where baskets and bilums can be bought. Masks can be bought inside some hotels and a craft shop at the airport. There is also the annual Crocodile Festival at Ambunti, a three-day cultural celebration usually is held during the first week of August. This includes crocodile scarification and initiation tattoos on young men, traditional dance performances and live crocodile encounters.

Where to stay

  • The Paradise New Wewak Hotel (+675 456 2155)
  • Talio Lodge (taliolodge.com) will interest surfers, a five-minute walk from Boram Airport
  • Wewak Guest House (+675 856 1497)
  • Remote Karawari Lodge (pngtours.com) is also available

Province capital: Wewak


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Area: 43,426square kilometres

Distance from Port Moresby: 760 kilometres

Getting there: Air Niugini flies from Port Moresby to Wewak regularly. The flights are via Madang and also direct. The direct flight is 1 hour 40 minutes.

Sectors: Coffee, cocoa, crocodiles, tourism, gold, copper.

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