Misima Island

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Misima Island
Nickname: St. Aignan Island
Misima Island.jpg
Misima Island photo
Misima Island is located in Papua New Guinea
Misima Island
Misima Island
Coordinates10°41′S 152°43′E / 10.683°S 152.717°E / -10.683; 152.717Coordinates: 10°41′S 152°43′E / 10.683°S 152.717°E / -10.683; 152.717
ArchipelagoLouisiade Archipelago
Adjacent bodies of waterSolomon Sea
Total islands3
Major islands
Area215 km2 (83 sq mi)
Length40 km (25 mi)
Width10 km (6 mi)
Highest elevation1,036 m (3399 ft)
Highest pointMount Koia Tau or Oia Tau First Recorded Ascent:24 December 2016 by Kolbe Bare and two other Misimans
Province Milne Bay
DistrictSamarai-Murua District
LLG[1]Louisiade Rural Local Level Government Area
Island GroupMisima Islands
Largest settlementBwagaoia (pop. 2680)
Population19,330 (2014)
Pop. density89.9/km2 (232.8/sq mi)
Ethnic groupsPapauans, Austronesians, Melanesians.
Additional information
Time zone
Official websitewww.ncdc.gov.pg
Location within Louisiade Archipelago
Misima Island from space
Misima Mine and Bwagaoia from space

Misima (formerly called St. Aignan) is a volcanic island in the northwest of Louisiade Archipelago within Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea.


Misima Island was inhabited by Polynesians since about 1500 BC. The island was sighted in 1768 by French captain Louis Antoine de Bougainville and explored 1793 by French explorer Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux. Misima island owes its name to Élisabeth-Paul-Édouard de Rossel, which was a lieutenant of the Counter admiral Antoine Bruny d'Entrecasteaux during his journey of scientific exploration. In 1888 the British Empire annexed Misima Island, and it became part of British New Guinea (since 1904 - the Territory of Papua administered by Australia).

Gold was discovered on Misima late in 1888.[2] By March 1889, eighty men were on the island digging for gold, and a storekeeper had set up a business.[3]

Since 1975, Misima belongs to the independent state of Papua New Guinea. A gold and silver mine was opened on the island in 1990, by an international corporation. The mines provided plenty of work for the islanders. however, that mine was officially closed in 2004, because of excessive load on the environment and public health hazards.[4]


The island is within the Samarai Murua District.


The island measures 40 km by 10 km and has an area of 214,5 km². It is located some 20 km north of the northwest extreme of the barrier reef of Vanatinai at Isu Raua Raua Island, and 80 km northwest of Vanatinai Island itself.

Misima is mountainous and densely forested. Mt. Koia Tau, at a height of 1,036 meters, is the highest peak of the Louisiade Archipelago.

It was not until 24 December 2016 when Kolbe Bare, a Papua New Guinean geologist, and two Misimans, David Kaliton and Kaliton Ada, made the first recorded ascent to the Top of Oia Tau.[4] It was noted by Kolbe that even though the mountain is close to the sea, Higher altitude vegetation covers the top of the mountain at the time of ascent.


The local climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season from 1 December to 31 May, and a wet season from 1 June to 30 November. it is usually very humid. Since it is fairly close to the equator, the temperature does not fluctuate much between winter and summer.


Misima island is known as a mining island. A huge mine operated many years on the island. The mine was a joint venture by Placer Dome Inc (owning 80%) and the state-owned Orogen Minerals Ltd. In March 2012 Barrick closed its post closure monitoring office in Bwagaoia having successfully rehabilitated the mine and mill sites.

Since 2004 when the mine closed, artisanal mining has become a major source of income in the island, with an association Misima Alluvial Gold Mining Association (MAGMA) starting in 2007. Other sources of income, especially for people living on the north coast, are cash crops of coconuts, copra, and cacao. A commercial fisheries project has been proposed, but has not been developed yet.


The island has a population of 19,330, spread across 78 villages, Misima is the most heavily populated island in the Louisiade Archipelago. By area, it is the third largest, after Vanatinai and Rossel Island. Since the mines have closed, there are signs of population decrease. people are moving to Alotau for jobs.


The main town of the island and the seat of the district is Bwagaoia, located on the southeast corner of the island. Other villages are Hinauta, Boiou, Gulewa, Bagilina, Liak, Siagara, Eiaus (on the eastern north coast, reachable by road from Bwagaoia), Gulewa and Ewena (on the western north coast), and Bwagabwaga, Gaibobo and Alhoga (on the south coast).[5]


Village Name Ward Population Coordinates
Bwagaoia 03 Bwagaoia 2680 10°40′45″S 152°50′47″E / 10.679228°S 152.846404°E / -10.679228; 152.846404
Balmatana 30 Baimatana 323 10°40′25″S 152°51′59″E / 10.673647°S 152.866527°E / -10.673647; 152.866527
Hinauta 04 Hinauta 509 10°39′49″S 152°51′38″E / 10.663595°S 152.860578°E / -10.663595; 152.860578
Lobwa 31 Lobwa 285 10°39′09″S 152°51′10″E / 10.652514°S 152.852762°E / -10.652514; 152.852762
Gigig 05 Kaubwaga 627 10°38′53″S 152°51′04″E / 10.64805°S 152.851101°E / -10.64805; 152.851101
Kaubwaga 05 Kaubwaga 504 10°38′47″S 152°50′53″E / 10.646257°S 152.848137°E / -10.646257; 152.848137
Boiou 06 Boiou 640 10°37′39″S 152°48′54″E / 10.627445°S 152.814962°E / -10.627445; 152.814962
Ginul 06 Boiou 262 10°37′34″S 152°48′17″E / 10.62614°S 152.804615°E / -10.62614; 152.804615
Hopitkahin 07 Siagara East 862 10°36′39″S 152°47′30″E / 10.610698°S 152.791768°E / -10.610698; 152.791768
Kalotawa 08 Siagara West 1024 10°37′44″S 152°45′59″E / 10.629022°S 152.766261°E / -10.629022; 152.766261
Gulewa 09 Gulewa 768 10°38′16″S 152°44′17″E / 10.6379°S 152.738°E / -10.6379; 152.738
Kakamwa 09 Gulewa 329 10°38′24″S 152°43′22″E / 10.64°S 152.7227°E / -10.64; 152.7227
Liak 10 Liak 1523 10°39′00″S 152°42′11″E / 10.65°S 152.703°E / -10.65; 152.703
Bagilina 12 Bagilina 636 10°39′18″S 152°40′29″E / 10.655126°S 152.674738°E / -10.655126; 152.674738
Lalama 12 Bagilina 578 10°38′58″S 152°39′23″E / 10.649457°S 152.656382°E / -10.649457; 152.656382
Ewena 13 Ewena 516 10°37′19″S 152°33′36″E / 10.622°S 152.56°E / -10.622; 152.56
Ebora 14 Ebora 679 10°37′46″S 152°31′30″E / 10.62956°S 152.524873°E / -10.62956; 152.524873
Bwana 32 Bwana 138 10°39′40″S 152°35′18″E / 10.661051°S 152.588471°E / -10.661051; 152.588471
Bwagabwaga 15 Bwagabwaga 535 10°41′10″S 152°42′39″E / 10.686105°S 152.710968°E / -10.686105; 152.710968
Gigimwani 16 Awaibi 501 10°41′54″S 152°41′42″E / 10.698386°S 152.695093°E / -10.698386; 152.695093
Awaibi 16 Awaibi 252 10°42′08″S 152°42′08″E / 10.702186°S 152.70222°E / -10.702186; 152.70222
Bwaeyam 16 Awaibi 1010 10°42′26″S 152°42′54″E / 10.707154°S 152.71499°E / -10.707154; 152.71499
Alhoga 17 Alhoga 379 10°42′49″S 152°44′31″E / 10.713743°S 152.741871°E / -10.713743; 152.741871
Lohola 17 Alhoga 300 10°42′59″S 152°45′19″E / 10.716368°S 152.75533°E / -10.716368; 152.75533
Mwana (Tribes of Eaus River) 18 Eaus North 888 10°40′30″S 152°45′11″E / 10.675°S 152.753°E / -10.675; 152.753
Eaus (Palapa) 19 Eaus South 980 10°41′46″S 152°45′56″E / 10.696203°S 152.765643°E / -10.696203; 152.765643
Abalouna 19 Eaus South 564 10°41′48″S 152°46′41″E / 10.696653°S 152.777925°E / -10.696653; 152.777925
Quartz Mountain (Misima mines) 02 Narian 222 10°41′S 152°47′E / 10.69°S 152.79°E / -10.69; 152.79
Narian 02 Narian 836 10°41′25″S 152°48′44″E / 10.690259°S 152.812086°E / -10.690259; 152.812086
Gaibobo 20 Gaibobo 731 10°41′31″S 152°49′13″E / 10.691979°S 152.820156°E / -10.691979; 152.820156


About half the population identified themselves as members of a Christian church. see Religion in Papua New Guinea for more info.


The main language of the island is also called Misiman, though many residents speak English and also Tok Pisin as a third language.




Misima has a working airport (IATA: MIS, ICAO: AYMM) (four flights weekly to the mainland (POM via Alotau) through Airlines of Papua New Guinea, and one charter run by Porgera Joint Venture, a high school (grades 7-12), a small market, a few small stores and a clinic/hospital, a post office,--all of which are located in Bwagaoia. There are ferries from Alotau which service Misima Island, costing around K100 and taking 17 hours.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The following mammals are present on Misima Island:

Other animals:


  1. ^ LLG map
  2. ^ Nelson, Hank (1976) Black, white & gold: goldmining in Papua New Guinea, 1878-1930, Canberra, Australian National University Press, p.28. ISBN 0708104878
  3. ^ Nelson, p.28
  4. ^ Official Web Site of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ http://rspas.anu.edu.au/lmg/masp/workingpapers/05/MIL_05_16_01.pdf

External links[edit]