Port Moresby Location Profile

Overview

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Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea and often called by its abbreviation POM or POM City, is presumed to be the largest city in the South Pacific, with an estimated 2020 population of just over 400,000, and distributed over a surface area of 240 kilometers, which roughly represents 1,500 residents per square kilometer. 

The City of Port Moresby is found on the island of New Guinea, a landmass shared with Indonesia, and lies south-east of the coast of the Papuan Peninsula, to which it significantly outlines the shores of the Gulf of Papua.

Key Information

Early History

Port Moresby sits on traditional land largely owned by the Motu-Koitabu people, who were mostly hunters, gatherers and seafarers, that normally traded with other indigenous communities - through the barter system - in the Gulf of Papua (Gulf Province today). 

Following Captain John Moresby’s proclamation of the land as British Empire-owned in 1873, the Queensland State of Australia annexed Papua 10 years later and declared it British-owned. 

In 1945, the United Nations merged the two territories into a trusteeship of Australia. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea had its first general election for its House of Assembly in 1964, preceding subsequent polls in 1968 and 72. 

In December 1973, the territory was granted self-governance and gained independence from Australia, in September of 1975.

After independence 

After independence, Port Moresby became the seat of government and an important hub for the private sector in the post-independence period.

The expansion of the PNG economy – thanks to a thriving extractive industry – triggered  a much needed growth for Port Moresby.  

Successive national governments and municipal authorities rolled out modern facilities, complimenting increased investment in property development by the private sector. 

Today, Port Moresby’s skyline has evolved from low-set buildings to multistory apartment blocks and penthouses.

While the PNG capital benefited over the years from the country’s economic maturity, the United Nations estimated that 37% of PNG’s population still live below the national poverty line, making the country one of the poorest in the world.  

The city’s population has increased dramatically in the last four decades as more Papua New Guineans left their rural communities and migrated to Port Moresby and other urban centers in search of employment opportunities and a new way of life.

Economy

Port Moresby’s economy mainly revolves around the service industry, as output from businesses with a presence in the manufacturing and primary sectors. However, these sectors do not have a major impact on the city’s economic cycle. 

The growth in the service industry has been largely driven by a decade of positive growth in the PNG economy, burgeoned by the construction phase of the $US19 billion ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG Project; the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Construction at the project site in both the Hela and Central provinces began in 2010, with the first gas export to Japan occurring in May 2014. 

By the end of 2013, the PNG LNG Project had employed over 14,700 people including 5,600 Papua New Guineans. According to ExxonMobil the project delivered over 2.13 million hours of training which focused on developing the technical and professional skills of the workers that were recruited. 

Training facilities run by the company in Port Moresby and the Highlands had trained over 1600 workers since 2011. 

The city’s hosting of the 2015 Pacific Games and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2016 also led to a massive investment by the PNG National Government in sporting facilities and logistics to the tune of K1.2 billion. 

The public works programs for both international events resulted in more employment for thousands of locals.

Port Moresby’s 2018 APEC and its calendar of monthly meetings culminating with the Leaders’ Summit in November of that year, were expected to create further opportunities in the service industry for local businesses, as approximately 7000-10,000 participants traveled to PNG. 

The construction of the iconic APEC Haus, the venue for the leader’s conference, was underway that time and was scheduled for completion in July of that year.

Things To Do in Port Moresby

Port Moresby’s retail sector continues to evolve to this day, and is home to some of the most impressive shopping experiences you can get. Names like Waterfront, RH Hypermarket, Boroko Food World at Gordons, Stop ‘N’ Shop, Harbor City, all make for a great place to start.  

Vision City Mega Mall, Port Moresby’s only integrated shopping complex, and by far the largest shopping mall throughout the South Pacific, is another shopping destination worth your day and time. Dotted with fun shops, a movie theatre, a night club, food bazaars, and low-key bars, there’s no shortage of attractions to go around. 

So when you’re in Port Moresby for shopping, it’s not entirely about what you will buy, but where?

Being the main port of entry into the country, Port Moresby is home to different cultural and religious backgrounds. This has lead to a growing exposure to different cuisines and more variety within the city from street food to fine dining and local to international delicacies. 

A large community from Malaysia and India has influenced the market with popular options such as curry nights at The Cellar Restaurant or Malaysian takeaway from Fusion Bistro. However within the past decade, Port Moresby has been host to international events such as the APEC summit, South Pacific Games and Rugby League World Cup which has exposed the city to a need to cater for other palates. 

In Downtown Port Moresby you will find Korean, Italian, Japanese restaurants close to the waterfront, or take a trip on the Poreporena Freeway and either turn off to Boroko for Indian, Waigani for Asian, or Hohola for a taste of PNG cuisine at the Mumu Restaurant.

If you're looking for more street food, Port Moresby is scattered with bbq stalls selling crispy lamp flaps, kaukau (sweet potato), and cooked bananas.

Existing food outlets are introducing new burger menus while new joints are bringing in their own signature burger and fries with hidden cafes such as the Dirty Kitchen dripping with goodness, or the Dream Inn making you visualise what extras you will add to the Big Boi Burger.

The Cafe culture also didn't really exist until the last decade with Duffy Cafe and Bon Cafe entering the market with their own blends of PNG Coffee to showcase. Pop into Brian Bell Gordons on the weekend to find new items to decorate your living space and stop by Jeanz Cafe for a refreshing frappe. 

With developments happening around all parts of the city, there will be many new spots to discover in Port Moresby.  

Transport 

The Jackson International Airport at Seven Mile is the main international gateway into and out of PNG. The airport is 10-15 minutes drive from the Port Moresby CBD, through the Poreporena freeway and Kumul flyover, and is less than 10 minutes from Boroko and Waigani. 

The national carrier Air Niugini offers daily services to the Australian cities of Cairns and Brisbane and weekly services to Singapore, Tokyo, Manila and Nadi (Fiji).

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