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Port Moresby History, Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby History – Early Colonial Life

Port Moresby history starts before the colonial period, when the city’s territory was inhabited by the Motuan people, who used to feed with sago, a starch created from palm stems that would provide most of their daily nutritious needs. They were known among other tribes for the long voyages they went on in canoes with more than 600 men aboard. When Captain John Moresby came to the area it became a very important trade center and in 1873 he named it after his father, establishing the whole island as English territory. Actual settlement took place only a few years later, and Europeans came to the land which was already annexed to the British Empire. It started growing slowly mainly due to the port activities and a pipe water system was introduced in 1941.

Port Moresby History – World War II

World War II brought the enrollment of many men from Port Moresby, both in the island’s infantry battalion and for the Allied forces, which was a turning point in Port Moresby history. People started leaving the city due to constant Japanese threats and returned to their native villages or retired in special camps. Thousands of troops were sent in the area to function as the last defenders of Australia in front of the Japanese, which led to an attack that ended with the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, when the Japanese invasion was stopped. However, during the war severe damage was brought to Port Moresby and the city had to virtually be rebuilt from very few remains. This also happened to Popondetta, Ihu and most of the towns in Papua New Guinea, including the rural areas surrounding them.

Port Moresby History – Modern and Contemporary Situation

After reconstruction was complete and the city started to develop, Port Moresby was named capital in 1975 and the building of new government buildings started. The place chosen to house administrative buildings was Waigani, a suburb that is also home to the National Museum and the National Library. The impressive National Parliament Building was finished in 1984 and is a great example of traditional elements that have been combined with modern building functions. However, the fate of most of these buildings is sad, as they were neglected and finally abandoned, till they started falling apart and losing all chances of rehabilitation. Although the population doubled its numbers between the 9th and the 10th decade, the feeling of negligence still dominates the city, which is also visible through the smoke haze that frequently covers the city due to bush fires lit by the locals and that the fire department never acts upon. Rapes, murders and criminal actions dominate the city and there are lots of gangs that control various neighborhoods, the murder rate is over 20 times higher than in London and unemployment reaches 90 percent, which makes Port Moresby the worst capital city to live in.

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