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, 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.