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Port Moresby

Coordinates: 9°28′44″S 147°08′58″E / 9.47889°S 147.14944°E / -9.47889; 147.14944
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Port Moresby
Pot Mosbi (Tok Pisin)
Flag of Port Moresby
Port Moresby is located in Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby
Port Moresby
Location within Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby is located in Oceania
Port Moresby
Port Moresby
Port Moresby (Oceania)
Coordinates: 9°28′44″S 147°08′58″E / 9.47889°S 147.14944°E / -9.47889; 147.14944
Country Papua New Guinea
DivisionNational Capital District
Named forAdmiral Fairfax Moresby
 • GovernorPowes Parkop (2007–present)
 • Capital city240 km2 (90 sq mi)
35 m (115 ft)
 (2011 census)
 • Capital city364,145
 • Density1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Main languagesMotu, Tok Pisin, English
Time zoneUTC+10 (AEST)
Postal code
HDI (2021)0.729[1]
high · 1st of 22

Port Moresby (/ˈmɔːrzbi/; Tok Pisin: Pot Mosbi), also referred to as Pom City or simply Moresby, is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea. It is one of the largest cities in the southwestern Pacific (along with Jayapura) outside of Australia and New Zealand. It is located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, on the south-western coast of the Papuan Peninsula of the island of New Guinea. The city emerged as a trade centre in the second half of the 19th century. During World War II, it was a prime objective for conquest by the Imperial Japanese forces during 1942–43 as a staging point and air base to cut off Australia from Southeast Asia and the Americas.

As of the 2011 census, Port Moresby had 364,145 inhabitants. An unofficial 2020 estimate gives the population as 383,000.[2] The place where the city was founded has been inhabited by the Motu-Koitabu people for centuries. The first Briton to see it was Royal Navy Captain John Moresby in 1873. It was named in honour of his father, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Fairfax Moresby.

Although Port Moresby is surrounded by Central Province, of which it is also the capital, it is not part of that province but forms the National Capital District. The traditional landowners, the Motu and Koitabu people, are represented by the Motu Koita Assembly.

Port Moresby hosted the APEC summit in November 2018.[3] However, there were concerns about security given the capital's reputation for violent crime.[3]


A Hiri expedition arriving in Port Moresby in the 1990s

Before colonisation[edit]

Prior to the arrival of Europeans to the region, it was inhabited by the Motu-Koitabu. The Motu were originally coastal dwellers, while the Koitabu lived more inland.[4] There was significant intermarriage between these two groups. They were organized into units called iduhu, which are somewhat similar to clans.[4]


Queensland raises the British flag at Port Moresby in 1883
Government House in Port Moresby—still used today though substantially enlarged—at the beginning of the 20th century

In 1883, Queensland attempted to annex the south-eastern corner of the New Guinea Island (subsequently known as Papua), fearing that Germany would take control of the entire eastern half of the island.[5] British authorities refused to approve the annexation following the German annexation of New Guinea in 1884, but four years later it established a protectorate over Papua as British New Guinea.

In 1905, the recently federated Australian government passed the Papua Act which came into effect in 1906. The act transferred Papua, with Port Moresby as its capital, to direct Australian rule. From then until 1941 Port Moresby grew slowly. The main growth was on the peninsula, where port facilities and other services were gradually improved. The first butcher's shop and grocery opened in 1909,[6] electricity was introduced in 1925,[7] and piped water supply was provided in 1941.[8]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, some Papuan men enlisted in the Papua Infantry Battalion and others as carriers over trails and rough terrains (porters) as supply support to Allied and Japanese armies during long jungle marches.[9] Historian William Manchester outlines in his biography of General Douglas MacArthur, American Caesar, that acting as porters was well down the natives' list of acceptable voluntary activities and that they would fade away without great inducements.[10] Many Papuan residents of Port Moresby either returned to their family villages or were evacuated to camps when the threat of Japanese invasion loomed. By September 1942, the city was an important Allied complex of bases, and thousands of troops were stationed in the area or more often, staged through it, as it was the last Allied bastion on the island[11][12] and, conversely, a key staging and jumping off point as the Allies began conducting offensive warfare themselves, pushing back the Japanese advances.[13] General MacArthur located his headquarters in Port Moresby from November 1942 to October 1944.[citation needed]

In 1945, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was formed when Papua and the former German New Guinea, which had been administered by Australia since 1918, were amalgamated under a single Australian administration though several laws remained in two territories and remain so, which can be complicating with provinces sitting on two sides of the otherwise extinct boundary. Port Moresby became the capital of the new combined territory and a focal point for the expansion of public services. Port Moresby was granted city status in 1972, with Oala Oala-Rarua becoming the first Lord Mayor.[14]


In September 1975, Papua New Guinea became an independent country with Port Moresby as its capital city. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, represented the Queen of Papua New Guinea at the celebrations.[15] New government, intellectual and cultural buildings were constructed in the suburb of Waigani to supplement and replace those of downtown Port Moresby. They included those for government departments, including a National Parliament Building, which was opened in 1984 by Prince Charles and blends traditional design with modern building technology.[15]

Douglas Street, Port Moresby: Old hotel lot, vacant for 30 years, and new building behind it.
The longstanding downtown United Church with next door office building in 2013 were replaced with one building, the church on the ground floor.

The Papua New Guinea National Museum and National Library are in Waigani. A mansion was built in Port Moresby just west of the old legislative building but the last pre-independence chief minister and first prime minister of the sovereign state declared it not nearly grand enough; it was made the residence of Australian high commissioners and a mansion suitable to Somare's demands was built in Waigani.

Several of the government buildings have been abandoned due to long-term neglect. Chief amongst these are Marea Haus (known to most locals as the "Pineapple Building") and the Central Government Offices.[citation needed] However, widespread restoration rather than demolition of long-disused office buildings has been highly active since the first decade of the 21st century.[citation needed] The legislative building before independence and the first parliament building is long-gone but the old court house in town Port Moresby remains, bearing its pre-independence label with its previous title.

The population of the Port Moresby area expanded rapidly after independence. In 1980, the census return registered a population of 120,000; by 1990, this had increased to 195,000.[16]


Moresby has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw) with relatively constant temperatures throughout the year. Port Moresby's average yearly rainfall is 898.8 millimetres or 35.39 inches, making it the driest place in New Guinea.

The wet season starts in December and ends in May; the dry season covers the remaining six months. This is due to the south easterly trade winds running parallel to the coast, and the city being surrounded by high mountains. The average high temperatures range from 28 to 32 °C (82.4 to 89.6 °F) depending on time of year, while the average low temperature shows very little seasonal variation, hovering around the 23 °C (73.4 °F) mark. It tends to be slightly cooler in the city during the dry season.

Climate data for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36.2
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 32.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 23.7
Record low °C (°F) 20.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 192.2
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 18 16 18 11 9 6 4 4 5 5 6 12 114
Average relative humidity (%) 79 81 81 82 81 79 77 76 76 76 75 77 78
Mean monthly sunshine hours 182 158 184 200 211 200 203 222 213 231 243 216 2,463
Source 1: World Meteorological Organization[17]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes, mean temperature, humidity and sun)[18][19][a]

District, LLGs and suburbs[edit]

Urban sustainability analysis of the greater urban area of the city, using the Circles of Sustainability method of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme.
Walter Bay from hills immediately east of downtown Port Moresby
Ela Beach
Coastal housing at Hanuabada in Port Moresby

Port Moresby is the single district of the National Capital District, which contains three Local Level Government (LLG) areas. For census purposes, the LLG areas are subdivided into wards and those into census units.[20]

District District Capital LLG
National Capital District Port Moresby Moresby North-East
Moresby North-West
Moresby South

The National Capital District machinery of government also incorporates the Motu Koita Assembly, established by an act of parliament to represent the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, the Motu and Koitabu people. The Assembly governs the traditional lands and inhabitants of the ten recognised villages, and is the only entity of its kind in Papua New Guinea. The Chair of the Motu Koita Assembly also holds the position of Deputy Governor of the National Capital District.[citation needed]

Port Moresby refers to both the urbanised area of the National Capital District and more specifically to the main business area, known locally as "Town".[citation needed]

Since the 1990s the original town centre has ceased to have restaurants and night life, though it is very successful and prosperous-looking as an office centre. The affluent housing region north of downtown along and up from the coast remains so, though there are now few modest residential houses, most of which are replaced with substantial mansions and apartment buildings.[citation needed]

The suburb of Boroko, once the commercial heart of Port Moresby, is very idle, with many former shopping buildings now[when?] empty; the west is full of high rises, shopping centres and affluent housing. Other neighbourhoods of Port Moresby include Koki, with its popular fresh produce market, Newtown, Konedobu, Kaevaga, Badili, Gabutu, Kila Kila, Matirogo, Three Mile, Kaugere, Sabama, Korobosea, Four Mile, Hohola, Hohola North, Boroko, Gordons, Gordons North, Erima, Saraga, Waigani, Morata and Gerehu.[citation needed]


Villages within Port Moresby include:


Al Jazeera describes Port Moresby as "one of the most dangerous cities in the world".[24] ABC Australia reports that "many homes have big fences covered in metal sheeting, locked gates and internal steel security doors."[25] Travel by foot is not recommended in and about the city and suburbs due to continuing breakdown in law and order. The UN Global Compact Cities Programme, using a method called Circles of Sustainability, has assessed the urban security of Port Moresby as 'critical'.[26]


Jacksons International Airport, looking east across the airstrip.

Port Moresby is served within the city by buses and privately owned taxis. Flights are vital for transport about the country, highways not being widely available. Port Moresby is served by Jacksons International Airport, the biggest international airport and Papua New Guinea Defence Force Air Wing base in the country.

As the national highway system is not fully linked, there are many internal flights to other towns, such as Lae and Madang, which have no direct road connection to Port Moresby.


Port Moresby, seen from the International Space Station

Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, which account for two thirds of its export earnings. Though PNG is filled with resources, the lack of development led foreign countries to take over some sites. Continuing foreign demand for PNG's resources led the United States to set up an oil company that began to export in 2004. This was the largest project in PNG's history. The project increased the potential to triple PNG's export revenue. Papua New Guinea gained much assistance from Australia and was offered two hundred million dollars a year in aid, and many countries such as Singapore, Japan and China have also played a great part in PNG's industry business.[27] The decision to host the 2018 APEC meeting,[28] brought a large number of world leaders to Port Moresby.

There has been substantial building of housing, office towers, shopping malls and commercial establishments over much of the city.[citation needed] The waterfront area has been completely redeveloped with apartments, restaurants and shopping centres.[citation needed] Sporting facilities were upgraded significantly for the 2015 South Pacific Games, and further development took place in preparation for the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.[29]

Air Niugini, the national airline of Papua New Guinea, and Airlines PNG, the second biggest airline in the country, have their head offices on the grounds of Jacksons International Airport.[30]


The 1969 South Pacific Games, held from 13 to 23 August 1969 at Port Moresby, were the third South Pacific Games to be held. A total of 1,150 athletes participated.[31]

The 1991 South Pacific Games held from 7–21 September 1991 at Port Moresby and along Lae were the ninth South Pacific Games to be held. This was the first time that events at one games had been held in two cities. The decision to do so was to allow both locations to benefit from the construction of new facilities.[32]

Cricket PNG is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Papua New Guinea. Its headquarters is in Port Moresby. Cricket PNG is Papua New Guinea's representative at the International Cricket Council and is an associate member and has been a member of that body since 1973. It is also a member of the East Asia-Pacific Cricket Council.[33][34]

The city hosted the 2017 FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup, where the Papua New Guinea national basketball team won the gold medal.

The city is home to the Port Moresby Vipers rugby league team who play in the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League. The National football stadium is also home to the PNG Hunters, a rugby league team that compete in the majority Australian Queensland Cup.

2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby[edit]

The 2015 Pacific Games was held in Port Moresby from 4 to 18 July 2015.[35] In September 2009, the Pacific Games Council, at its meeting coinciding with the 2009 Pacific Mini Games, elected Port Moresby as the host of the 2015 Games. The final vote was 25–22 in favour of Port Moresby over Tonga to host.[36]

The 2015 Pacific Games involved 24 countries from the Pacific regions competing in 28 sports events, including: basketball, soccer, touch rugby, table tennis, weightlifting, triathlon, swimming, cricket, squash, shooting, sailing, va'a, rugby 7s, powerlifting, rugby league 9s, volleyball, beach volleyball, athletics, hockey, netball, karate, lawn bowls, bodybuilding, boxing, softball, taekwondo, golf, and canoeing. Papua New Guinea ranked first with the most medals followed by New Caledonia and Tahiti.[37]

The opening ceremony took place on 4 July 2015 involving various traditional dances.[38] The closing ceremony involved singers such as J Boog, Fiji, O-Shen and George Mamua Telek.[39]

Sports venues[edit]

The venue has hosted the PNG national side since 1975 and has previously hosted Rugby League World Cup matches in 1986 and 1990. It is also home of the Hunters, the local Papua New Guinea team who play in the Intrust Super Cup which is the Queensland NRL tournament. The National Football Stadium features a permanent main grandstand with seating for 3,000 including a roof and corporate facilities while temporary stands around the ground boost the seating capacity. There are also lights and a video screen.


International schools[edit]

The International Education Agency provides private education via six international schools; Korobosea International School, Boroko International School, Ela Murray International School, Gordon International School, Port Moresby International School and IEA TAFE college. There are approximately three hundred staff.[48]

The Port Moresby International School (POMIS) has been operating since the 1950s. It is an International Education Agency school and is the premier international high school in Port Moresby. It enrolls nearly 1000 students from Grades 7 to 12.[49]

Port Moresby Japanese Language School (ポート・モレスビー補習授業校 Pōto Moresubī Hoshū Jugyō Kō) was a supplementary Japanese school in the city.[50] It closed in August 2009.[51]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Port Moresby is twinned with:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)[full citation needed]
  2. ^ "CIA World Factbook". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)[full citation needed]
  3. ^ a b Tlozek, Eric (30 June 2018). "Security in PNG's Port Moresby under spotlight as APEC summit approaches". ABC. Port Moresby. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  4. ^ a b Goddard, Michael (June 2001). "Rethinking Western Motu Descent Groups". Oceania. 71 (4): 313–333. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4461.2001.tb02756.x. hdl:1959.13/26788. JSTOR 40332111. Retrieved 12 February 2023.
  5. ^ Gordon, Donald C. (1945). "'Beginnings of an Australasian Pacific Policy'". Political Science Quarterly. 60 (1): 85. doi:10.2307/2144459. JSTOR 2144459.
  6. ^ "March of Civilisation". The Argus. The Argus Office, Melbourne Victoria. 7 September 1909. p. 5. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  7. ^ "Progress in Papua". The Argus. The Argus Office, Melbourne Victoria. 5 September 1925. p. 12. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Department of the Interior: Tenders". The Argus. The Argus Office, Melbourne Victoria. 25 January 1941. p. 18. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  9. ^ "Australian War Memorial - AJRP Essays". Ajrp.awm.gov.au. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  10. ^ American Caesar, William Manchester, 1978, Little Brown Company, 793 pages, ISBN 0-316-54498-1, pp.306: "On and about Jul-Sep 1942 and MacArthur's troops stop the Japanese in the difficult jungles of New Guinea and General Kenney gifts Port Moresby to the SAC by moving the bomber line 1,800 miles [2,900 km] to five new air bases."
  11. ^ Salak, Kira (2004). Amazon.com listing for the "Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea". National Geographic. ISBN 0792274172.
  12. ^ Salak, Kira. "Nonfiction book about Papua New Guinea,"Four Corners"". Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  13. ^ American Caesar, William Manchester, 1978, Little Brown Company,793 pages, ISBN 0-316-54498-1, pp.290-307: "On and about Feb-Dec 1942 and MacArthur's reorganization of troops, lack of theater priority, his support for Guadalcanal and his daring offensive gamble in going to meet the Japanese in the difficult jungles of New Guinea as a way of conducting a forward defense of Australia, rather than risk a war of maneuver when he had insufficient forces to move around."
  14. ^ Our first city Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, 14 April 1972
  15. ^ a b "Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to make Australian visit", The Telegraph, 19 September 2012, archived from the original on 21 September 2012, retrieved 21 September 2012
  16. ^ "pcabii.org" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  17. ^ "World Weather Information Service — Port Moresby". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
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  19. ^ "Station 92035 Port Moresby W.O." Global station data 1961–1990—Sunshine Duration. Deutscher Wetterdienst. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  20. ^ "National Statistical Office of Papua New Guinea". Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  21. ^ Vega, Chito de la (30 November 2018). "Papua New Guinea's 'gay village' offers sanctuary, hope". RAPPLER. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  22. ^ "Kira Kira residents receive food aid". The National. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  23. ^ "Kirakira village in Moresby-South showcases women's SMEs". The PNG Bulletin. 4 May 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
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  25. ^ Eric Tlozek (30 June 2018). "Security in PNG's Port Moresby under spotlight as APEC summit approaches". ABC Australia. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  26. ^ James, Paul; Nadarajah, Yaso; Haive, Karen; Stead, Victoria (2012). Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development: Other Paths for Papua New Guinea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
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  28. ^ "APECPNG2018.ORG". www.apecpng2018.org. Archived from the original on 9 July 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
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  30. ^ "APNG Contacts Archived 2009-09-13 at the Wayback Machine." Airlines PNG. Retrieved on 26 May 2010.
  31. ^ a b Hawthorne, Stuart (2011). Taim Bipo. Boolarong Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-1-876344962. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  32. ^ Wightman, Brian (1992). "Ninth South Pacific Games in Port Moresby" (PDF 0.4 MB). Olympic Information Cente. pp. 50–53. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Cricinfo-Papua New Guinea". Archived from the original on 23 June 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  34. ^ "cricketpng". Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  35. ^ "Pacific Games dates set" Archived 2012-09-11 at archive.today, Post-Courier, 18 April 2012
  36. ^ PNG2015 - Papua New Guinea Wins Archived 2012-10-10 at the Wayback Machine, published by the Pacific Games Council, on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  37. ^ "The Pacific Games 2015 – Port Moresby - The Pacific Games 2015 – Port Moresby". www.portmoresby2015.com. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  38. ^ "Opening ceremony to bring PNG's history to the present - The Pacific Games 2015 – Port Moresby". www.portmoresby2015.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  39. ^ "Port Moresby says goodbye to an 'outstanding' Pacific Games - The Pacific Games 2015 – Port Moresby". www.portmoresby2015.com. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  40. ^ Amini Park Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine at cricinfo
  41. ^ Amini Park Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine at CricketArchive
  42. ^ Papua New Guinea players (A) Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine at CricketArchive
  43. ^ Other matches played on Amini Park, Port Moresby Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine at CricketArchive
  44. ^ Li, Le Thi (31 August 2023). "Papua New Guinea National Football Stadium: Uniting Passion for Football in Port Moresby - Stadiums World". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  45. ^ "Stadium information". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  46. ^ Taim Bipo
  47. ^ Hubert Murray stadium work on schedule
  48. ^ "IEANet". www.ieanet.net. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  49. ^ West, Christopher. "Port Moresby International School" (PDF). Port Moresby International School. iea.net. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  50. ^ "大洋州の補習授業校一覧" (). MEXT. February 13, 2002. Retrieved on April 7, 2015. "ポートモレスビー Port Moresby Japanese Language School c/o Embassy of Japan P.O. Box 1040 Port Moresby P.N.G."
  51. ^ "関係機関へのリンク" (Archive). The Japan School of Doha. Retrieved on March 31, 2015. "ポート・モレスビー補習授業校(2009年8月休校)" and "(ニューメキシコ)アルバカーキ補習授業校(休校)" and "(プエルトリコ)プエルトリコ補習授業校(2006年3月閉校)"
  52. ^ "Sister Cities". jinan.gov.cn. Jinan. Archived from the original on 6 June 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  53. ^ "Sister Cities". suvacity.org. Suva. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  54. ^ "Direct Service To Benefit PNG And Queensland". postcourier.com.pg. Post Courier. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2020.


  1. ^ Station ID for Port Moresby is 92035 Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]