PORT MORESBY PAPUA NEW GUINEA (CAPITAL REGION)

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Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby (Capital Region)
Port Moresby lies on the southeast shore of New Guinea and is built around Fairfax Harbour, the island’s largest harbour. As the city capital and administrative centre of Papua New Guinea, it has the greatest population density in the country.

Europeans became aware of this port city when British explorer John Moresby sailed through the Gulf of Papua in 1873. About 15 years later, Great Britain established the colony of British New Guinea here, and named Port Moresby the capital. The area was occupied by Motu and Koitabu people for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived. The Motuans, who migrated to the area about 2,000 years ago, have sustained themselves despite the nutrient-poor soil and low rainfall by building seaworthy sailboats and sailing along the Gulf of Papua to trade their pottery for sago flour.

Local geography creates a microclimate in Port Moresby. The rain shadow created by the Owen Stanley Range means that the city receives less than 1,270 millimetres (50 inches) of precipitation per year, far less than the average rainfall on New Guinea Island.

The dry climate created by this leads to occasional drought and drinking-water shortages, but the mountains also shield the city from the heavy rains that regularly sweep across the rest of the region from May to November. With offshore protection provided by coral reefs, the rain shadow also helps to insulate the harbour from harsh weather

approaching from the northwest.

Recent History

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During World War II Port Moresby was coveted by both sides for control of the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean. The Allies defeated Japanese naval forces destined for Port Moresby in the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea. Japan suffered a further blow in 1943 when they were routed on the Owen Stanley Range.

Local industrial development has helped spur the city’s growth in recent years and during the 1980s the population nearly doubled. Today the populace continues expanding at a rapid pace, and the city struggles with a high crime rate. Income disparities amongst residents are such that many live in temporary shanty settlements.

Suroundings

Modern Port Moresby is surrounded by rubber plantations, dairy farms, and experimental livestock ranches—the city’s exports include copra, coffee, rubber, plywood, timber, and gold. Construction of a petroleum refinery began in the 1990s; this will be the first processing facility for the country’s oil reserves, and it is scheduled to be completed by 1999.

Outside the city, 46 kilometres northeast is the Sogeri Plateau where the infamous Kokoda Trail became the centre of war between the Japanese and Allied Troops. The trail is a redex trial of slippery slopes and steep mountains covered in jungle.

At 800 metres, the atmosphere is cool in contrast to the humidity of the city. You can take short drives around to the many picnic sites, jungle walks and swim in the Crystal Rapids. Variarata National Park is a spectacular natural mountain region which offers views over Port Moresby and the coastline. If you get up early, you can catch the mist which blankets the ranges and provides a glorious picture.


The road to Sogeri passes the historic Bomana War Cemetery and Gardens and the Moitaka Wildlife Farm, a crocodile research farm which also has a collection of native animals and birds. On Fridays visitors are able to see the crocodiles at lunch.

West-bound from Port Moresby is the Hiritano Highway which connects the city with Bereina, home of the Kairuku and Mekeo people. The Mekeos are renowned for their strong chieftain system as well as their grand traditional costumes and the designs they draw on their faces.

Yule Island, two hours drive west along the Hiritano Highway was one of the first areas to have European contact. Catholic missionaries settled here in 1885 and still maintain a presence in the area. It is a popular spot for peaceful getaways and seafood delights.

To the east, only fifteen minutes drive from Port Moresby is Loloata Island Resort, a popular destination for Port Moresby residents and a relaxing alternative for transiting visitors. Surrounded by coral reefs it offers snorkelling, diving, fishing and other water sports.

While in Moresby and its surrounds, keep your eye out for Papua New Guinea wildlife. It's as varied as the vegetation and very special. Look for the long-snouted echidna, the New Guinea eagle, the Birds of Paradise, goura pigeons, seven types of birdwing butterflies and different kinds of egrets.

Owen Stanley Range

Surrounding the National Capital District is Central Province, a narrow coastal strip which rises to the 4000 metre high Owen Stanley Ranges which form its northern border and divides and isolates the Province from the north.

Milne Bay Air operates flights into the towns of Tapini and Woitape. After a short flight climbing into the Owen Stanley Ranges, the light aircraft lands, with little descent onto an airstrip cut into the side of the mountain. These are popular destinations for bush walking, fishing and relaxing.

SUMMARY
Population: 188 089 citizens and 7481 expatriates.
Land area: 240 square km.
Members in Parliament: 4.
Headquarters: Waigani.

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