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Lae

The meaning of «lae»

Lae (/ˈlɑːeɪ, ˈleɪi/[1]) is the capital of Morobe Province and is the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea. It is located near the delta of the Markham River and at the start of the Highlands Highway, which is the main land transport corridor between the Highlands region and the coast. Lae is the largest cargo port of the country and is the industrial hub of Papua New Guinea. The city is known as the Garden City and home of the University of Technology.[2]

Lucas (1972)[3] describes the history of Lae into four periods; the mission phase (1886–1920), the gold phase (1926 until World War II), the timber and agricultural phase (until 1965) and the industrial boom (from 1965 with the opening of the Highlands Highway.[4]

Between 1884 and 1918 the German New Guinea Company established trading posts in Kaiser Wilhelmsland, German New Guinea and on 12 July 1886, a German missionary, Johann Flierl, a pioneer missionary for the Southern Australian Lutheran Synod and the Neuendettelsau Mission Society, sailed to Simbang in Finschhafen, Kaiser-Wilhelmsland and arrived at Lae shortly after.[5] The mission society provided clergy and religious education for Lutheran settlements in Missouri, Iowa and Ohio, Australia, and anywhere else "free thinking" Lutherans had settled.[6]

After World War I, Eastern New Guinea came under British control (Australia) and many of the Germanic names were replaced by English or indigenous ones. Adolf Haven was then referred to as Morobe Harbor.[7] Australian officials or kiaps were stationed at various locations within the area [8] and in 1921 the military administration transitioned to a civilian administration, a gold prospector named Cecil John Levien was appointed District Officer (Kiap) of Morobe.

On 1 January 1923 Levien acquired a mining right for the area and shortly after formed a syndicate called Guinea Gold (No Liability).[9] The Guinea Gold syndicate formed Guinea Airways Limited in November 1927.[10] In 1927 Levien arranged for the construction of the airstrip at Lae to assist the gold mine productions around Wau.[11]

Lae was declared a town under the New Guinea Boundaries Ordinance on 31 March 1931 at the height of the gold rush era [12] and Lae became the prototype for New Guinean towns built up around airstrips.[4] The Europeans lived to the East of Lae Airfield while the New Guineans lived to the West.[4] Cargo arrived in Lae and then was transported by air to the goldfields in Wau.

In July 1937, Lae made world news when American aviator Amelia Earhart was last seen flying out of the airport on her way back to the United States. She was never seen again.

When the volcanic eruptions occurred in Rabaul in 1937, a decision was made to transfer the capital of the Territory of New Guinea to Lae. World War II impeded the transfer and the town was occupied by the Empire of Japan on 8 March 1942. Lae, Rabaul and Salamaua became the major Japanese bases in New Guinea.

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