Lae Location Profile
Lae is the capital of Morobe Province, and the second largest city in Papua New Guinea.
It is situated on the northern coast of the Huon Gulf Peninsula, within close proximity to the Markham Delta. The city is considered as the industrial axis of Papua New Guinea, because it has more industrial capacity than both Port Moresby and Mount Hagen combined. The city of Lae retains an impressive internal road network, serving the logistics needs of both Madang Province and the Highlands Highway, which significantly stretches up to 700km.
The official population of Lae City, based on data compiled by the PNG National Statistical Office, continues past 148,934 to date, which is inclusive of its 11 suburbs: Bumayong, Bugandi, Chinatown, Dowsett, Eriku, Malahang, Taraka, Tent City, Voco Point, 3 Mile and 6 Mile.
The traditional custodians of the greater Lae area are the Butibam and Kamkumung villages, who happen to be the first inhabitants of the land that is currently Lae city. However, the battle for land ownership between the two villages has been ongoing since the colonial days.
Lae was built on the back of the Wau-Bulolo gold rush, with prospectors and miners using Lae airstrip as the transport hub to fly equipment to the fields, during the 1920s. The town grew as miners flew in from around the world with the Morobe Goldfield, at one point, hosting 700 expatriates and over 6000 local miners.
Overtime, Lae city developed into both a major cargo port and manufacturing base in PNG, with almost 20 foreign and locally-owned companies operating alongside each other.
In the years that followed, more established routes were developed and penetrated throughout much of Lae, allowing stories and histories to be told and retold as the city matured. It was not until 2014 when a mammoth plan for development was forecasted by the Asian Development Bank for the Lae wharf, named as the ‘Lae Port Development Project’, which amounted to a hefty sum of $390 million.
Upon project completion, the wharf had an additional 250 meters spread on top of an existing base of 600 meters, purported to ease shipping congestion.
Being the industrial axis of Papua New Guinea, Lae became an important point of entry to the Highlands region, resulting in a revitalised economy that stemmed from major sectors such as distribution, manufacturing, fisheries, mining and agriculture gaining strength.