Mbula is spoken by about 4,500 people on two islands off the northeastern coast of Papua New Guinea. They live in the Morobe province, in the Siassi district on east Umboi Island and on Sakar Island. There are six Mbula villages on east Umboi Island and one village on Sakar Island.

The classification of the Mbula language is Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Eastern Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Western Oceanic, North New Guinea, Ngero-Vitiaz, Vitiaz, Mangap-Mbula.

Other names for the Mbula language are Kaimanga, Mangaaba, Mangaava, Mangaawa, Mangap, and Mangap-Mbula. There are four dialects: Mbula (Central Mbula), Northern Mbula, Gauru, and Sakar. The ISO code is [mna].

The Mbula highly value their language and use it in the home, in the markets, and in church. Their literacy rate in the first language is 50%. This rate is increasing, as Mbula is taught in primary schools. There is some literature in the language including the New Testament (1997). A Grammar has also been done in the language.

Mangaaba-Mbula is an Oceanic Austronesian language spoken by some 4500 people living on the eastern half of Umboi Island1 and on Sakar Island2 in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea. Austronesian is one of the most widely dispersed of the world’s language families, with languages ranging from Taiwan to Madagascar near Africa to Hawaii and Easter Island. There are around 270 million speakers of Austronesian languages. The ancestral homeland of people speaking Austronesian languages is thought to be Taiwan. Based on archaeological evidence having to do with a particular style of pottery known as Lapita, the speakers of ProtoOceanic appear to have arrived at the Bismarck Archipelago in Papua New Guinea by 1900-1500 BC (Spriggs, 1990). Ross (1989) argues that they probably initially settled on the island of New Britain in the vicinity of the Willaumez Peninsula (which is near to the town of Kimbe) because of the large obsidian deposits there. The speakers of Mangaaba-Mbula live in seven different villages (here listed from north to south): Alario (also named Sakar, which is located on Sakar Island), Kabi, Kampalap, Marile, Birik, Yangla (also referred to by Mbula speakers as Abal or Ndasui), and Gauru (usually referred to by Mbula speakers as Ŋguur(u)). The language is a member of the Oceanic group of Austronesian languages. Ross (1988:122,161) classifies it as a member of the Ngero-Vitiaz linkage within his North New Guinea Cluster. In the linguistic literature, Mangaaba-Mbula has been referred to as Mangap and Kaimanga. Locally, speakers from nearby neighbouring language groups refer to Mangaaba-Mbula speakers as either Maŋaav(a) or Kaimaŋa. Umboi Island is approximately 50 kilometres by 30 kilometres, with the long axis of the island being orientated northwest–southeast. Sakar Island is more symmetrical, being about seven kilometres in diameter, and outlies Umboi Island by about fifteen kilometres. The maximum elevation of Umboi is 1658 metres, while that of Sakar is 992 metres. Both islands are volcanic in origin, but not currently active. Active volcanoes can be found on Ritter Island (locally termed Kurkur) —a stony outcrop about two kilometres long and less than 200 metres high located ten kilometres northeast of Umboi— and on the facing shore of New Britain. Speakers of the Kovai language, which is related to other Papuan languages on the Huon Peninsula, live on an elevated plateau in the centre of Umboi island. To the southeast of Umboi are the many small Siassi Islands. These are inhabited by the speakers of the related Saveeng (or Mutu) language, who have been and still are intimate trading partners with the MangaabaMbula people (Harding 1967). This language is also known as Mutu-Tuam, and Tuam-Mutu, and it has three dialects: Oov (spoken on the inner islands just off the coast of Umboi: Aramot, Mutu-Malau, Mandok, and Aronai islands), Tuam (spoken on Tuam Island and in Yaga village on the east coast of Umboi), and Malai (spoken on Malai Island). Mbula speakers refer to Saveeng-speaking Siassi islanders as Mutu and to the Kovai people as Kumbai. The inner islanders, who speak the Oov dialect of Saveeng, are referred to as Koobo. The area where the Mangaaba-Mbula speakers live may be divided into four geomorphic provinces: 1) sago swamp (the south-eastern portion of the area),
2) coast, 3) very dense mountainous tropical forest (the interior), and 4) elephant grass covered recent lava flows (found only in the northern portion of the language area, alternating with mountainous forests). Only the villages of Yangla and Gauru are located in the sago swamp province. Birik is located in the forest province. All other villages are located along the coast within 100 to 300 metres of the sea. Most Mangaaba-Mbula speakers are subsistence farmers who live off the land. Typical food crops include: sweet potatoes, yams, manioca, various types of sweet and cooking bananas, and sugar cane. The pulp of sago palms (see meene) is processed to collect starch which is then baked into cakes. Talis nuts and Canarium almond nuts (see kaŋar) are also important foods. Common fruits include pineapples, mangoes, and Malaysian apples. Lexical items having to do with the coconut palm (ni) and the sago palm (meene) constitute a very rich semantic domain in the language, as do those related to the Canarium almond tree (kaŋar). Much of the traditional calendar (see puulu ‘month’) of the Mbula people revolves around different phase of the life cycle of the Canarium almond tree. Being lowland and somewhat swampy, one of the curses of the area is a teeming mosquito population. Malaria, tuberculosis, and filariasis are significant health problems in the area, with malaria being a frequent cause of infant mortality.