A small Roman province on the S coast of Asia Minor visited by Paul on his first missionary tour. Though the size of the province may have varied over the years, Pamphylia is commonly viewed as having been a strip along the coastline some 120 km (75 mi) long and up to 50 km (30 mi) wide. It was bounded by the province of Lycia on the W, the Roman province of Galatia on the N, and the Kingdom of Antiochus on the E. On the coast the climate of Pamphylia was hot and tropical, while it moderated as one moved to the higher elevation of the Taurus Mountains.
The inhabitants are thought to have been a mixture of a native tribe with Greeks, some even suggesting Pamphylia to mean “of mingled tribes or races.” (Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, revised by H. Jones, Oxford, 1968, p. 1295) Evidently Jews or proselytes were in the area, for on Pentecost 33 C.E. persons from Pamphylia were in Jerusalem and were amazed to hear the disciples speaking in their “own language.”—Ac 2:6, 10.
A number of principal cities were on or near the coast, such as the seaport town of Attalia, Perga on the Cestrus (Aksu) River, and Side, where coastal pirates sold their booty and a slave market existed. From Paphos on Cyprus, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark sailed NW across the sea “and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia.” It is not definitely known whether they landed at Attalia and traveled on land the few miles to Perga or whether they sailed right to Perga; it is reported that in ancient times the Cestrus was navigable at least as far as Perga. At this point John Mark separated from the others and returned to Jerusalem, but Paul and Barnabas went N through the mountains to Antioch in Pisidia (in the province of Galatia). (Ac 13:13, 14; 15:38; 27:5) That route was notorious for bandits. (Compare 2Co 11:26.) On the return trip the two Christians traveled through Pamphylia to Perga and preached there. Next they went to the port of Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch in Syria.—Ac 14:24-26.
Pamphylia over the years was ruled by Lydia, Persia, Macedonia, and Rome. Under the Romans it was at various times united as a province with Cilicia (to the E), then with Galatia, and finally with Lycia.—Ac 13:13; 16:6; 27:5.