Geobox River
name = Sepik

map_caption = Location of the Sepik River
country = Papua New Guinea
country1 = Indonesia
region = Sandaun
region1 = Papua
region2 = East Sepik
length = 1126
length_round = 0
length_note =
watershed = 80321
watershed_round = 0
watershed_note = Cite web |url= |title=OC05 Sepik |work=Water Resources eAtlas |publisher=Watersheds of the World]
discharge_location =
discharge_average =
discharge_round =
discharge_average_note =
discharge_max_month =
discharge_max =
discharge_min_month =
discharge_min =
discharge1_location =
discharge1_average =
source_name =
source_location = Victor Emanuel Range
source_country = Papua New Guinea
source_elevation = 2170
source_lat_d = 5
source_lat_m = 13
source_lat_s =
source_lat_NS = S
source_long_d = 141
source_long_m = 49
source_long_s =
source_long_EW = E
mouth_name =
mouth_location = Bismarck Sea
mouth_country = Papua New Guinea
mouth_elevation = 0
mouth_lat_d = 3
mouth_lat_m = 50
mouth_lat_s = 30
mouth_lat_NS = S
mouth_long_d = 144
mouth_long_m = 32
mouth_long_s = 30
mouth_long_EW = E
tributary_left = Yellow River
tributary_right = April River
tributary_right1 = Karawari
tributary_right2 = Yuat
tributary_right3 = Keram

image_size =
image_caption = Sediment plumes at the mouth of the Sepik and Ramu rivers

The Sepik is the longest river on the island of New Guinea. The majority of the river flows through the Papua New Guinea (PNG) provinces of Sandaun and East Sepik, with a small section flowing through the Indonesian province of Papua.

The Sepik, pronounced "sea-pick", is one of the great river systems of the world. It has a large catchment area and landforms that include swamplands, tropical rainforests and mountains. Biologically, the river system is possibly the largest uncontaminated freshwater wetland system in the Asia-Pacific region.Cite web |title=Sepik River |publisher=Rainbow Habitat |url=]


The river originates in the Victor Emanuel Range in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. From its mountain headwaters near Telefomin, it travels north-west and leaves the mountains abruptly near Yapsei. From here it flows into Indonesian Papua, before turning back north-east for the majority of its journey following the Great Depression. Along its course it receives numerous tributaries from the Bewani and Torricelli Mountains to the north and the Central Range to the south.

For most of the Sepik's length the river winds in serpentine fashion, like the Amazon River, to the Bismarck Sea off northern Papua New Guinea. Unlike many other large rivers, the Sepik has no delta whatsoever, but flows straight into the sea, about Convert|100|km|mi|-1 east of the town of Wewak. It is also navigable for most of its length.

The river's total length is Convert|1126|km|mi|0 and has a drainage basin of over 80,000 km² (30,000 mi²). There is a 5-10 kilometres wide belt of active meanders formed by the river along most of its course that has created a floodplain up to 70 kilometres wide with extensive backwater swamps. There are around 1500 Ox Bow and other lakes in the floodplain, the largest of which are the Chambri Lakes.

The Sepik basin is largely an undisturbed environment as there are no major urban settlements or mining and forestry activities in the river catchment.


Local villagers have lived along the river for many millennia and the river has formed the basis for food, transport and culture.


European contact with the river started in 1885 when the Germans as part of establishing German New Guinea explored the area. The river was named by Dr Otto Finsch, "Kaiserin Augusta", after the German Empress.Cite book |title=Papua New Guinea |publisher=Lonely Planet |first=Adrian |last=Lipscomb |coauthors=et al. |month=February |year=1998 |edition=6 |isbn=0-86442-402-7 |pages=pp. 249-252] Upon finding the river, Finsch navigated about Convert|50|km|mi| upstream from its mouth.

In 1886 and 1887, further expeditions by steam boat were conducted by the Germans and over Convert|600|km|mi|-1 were explored. Between 1912 and 1913 the Germans sent further expeditions to explore the river and surrounding areas. They collected flora and fauna, studied local tribes and produced the first maps. The station town of Angoram was established as a base on the lower Sepik for explorations, but with the beginning of World War I, the explorations ceased.

After the first World War the Australian government took trusteeship of the German colony, creating the Territory of New Guinea, and the Sepik region came under their juristriction. During this period the Australians established a station on the middle Sepik at Ambunti to conduct further explorations.

In 1935 Sir Walter McNicoll's the new administrator of the Territory of New Guinea travelled up length of the Sepik to "have a look at the river people and the kind of country along the banks".Cite book |title=Patrol into yesterday |first=J.K. |last=McCarthy |year=1963 |publisher=F.W Cheshire Pty Ltd |location=Melbourne |isbn=0701503270 |pages=pp. 139-149]

World War II

The Japanese held the area throughout most of the Second World War. By the end of the war though, the Japanese had been completely surrounded after Hollandia in Netherlands New Guinea was captured in April 1944 during Operations Reckless and Persecution and Aitape had fallen during the campaign in August 1944. The battle to defeat the remaining forces by the Australian Army was hard fought and drawn out due to the terrain.

The Australians eventually pushed the Japanese back to the village of Timbunke on the middle Sepik in July 1945. After an Australian RAAF plane landed Convert|10|km|mi|0 from Timbunke the Japanese suspected that the villagers had collaborated with the Australians and proceeded to massacre 100 of the villagers.Cite web |url= |title=Chapter Seven: Voices from Asia and the Pacific |work=War Compensation Forum] Eventually the Japanese were defeated and surrendered at Wewak in September 1945.

epik art

The tribes living along the river are noted for their magnificent carvings and elaborate manhood initiation ceremonies involving scarification of designs of a crocodile on a riverbank.


External links

* [ Alcheringa Gallery] - gallery of contemporary Sepik art

Image gallery

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sepik — Lage des SepikVorlage:Infobox Fluss/KARTE fehlt DatenVorlage:Infobox Fluss/GKZ fehlt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sepik — 3° 50′ 32″ S 144° 32′ 20″ E / 3.84233, 144.539 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sepik — Sẹpik,   1) der, während der deutschen Kolonialzeit Kaiserin Augụsta Fluss, größter Fluss Nordostneuguineas, rd. 1 200 km lang, entspringt im westlichen Zentralgebirge auf indonesischem Gebiet und entwässert die westliche Senke zwischen… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Sepik — geographical name river 600 miles (966 kilometers) N Papua New Guinea …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Sepik — Se·pik (sāʹpĭk) A river, about 1,126 km (700 mi) long, of northern Papua New Guinea. * * * …   Universalium

  • Sepik — Se•pik [[t]ˈseɪ pɪk[/t]] n. geg a river in N Papua New Guinea, on the NE part of the island of New Guinea. 600 mi. (966 km) long …   From formal English to slang

  • Sepik — /ˈsipɪk/ (say seepik) noun a river in northern PNG, flowing north west then generally north east to the Pacific Ocean east of Wewak. About 982 km …   Australian English dictionary

  • Sepik — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Sepik-Waran — im Zoo Leipzig Systematik Klasse: Reptilien (Reptilia) Ordnung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sepik (disambiguation) — Sepik may refer to places in Papua New Guinea:*Sepik River *East Sepik a province *Sandaun a province formerly known as West Sepik *Sepik region consisting of East Sepik and Sandaun provincesIn languages it may refer to:*Sepik languages a… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.