Rabaul is located in the East New Britain province to the North East of Papua New Guinea on the Gazelle Peninsula. Rabaul harbour is nearly perfectly circular in shape and is considered to be one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. The area is historically important, environmentally diverse, and culturally rich. Rabaul’s natural deep harbour is conducive to receiving large ships, and attracting tourists interested in the region’s history, natural environment, water sports and cultural links.
Historically Rabaul was occupied by the Japanese and in 1942 they set up a large military base here which housed 110,000 troops. Instead of capturing Rabaul, the Allied Forces bypassed the area and established a ring of airfields and naval bases around it, effectively cutting off supplies to it. The Japanese held Rabaul until they surrendered in August 1945.
The area is strewn with sunken ships and provides excellent diving opportunities for tourists.
Rabaul boasts the nation’s best markets due to the fertile volcanic soil which provides an ideal tropical growing haven. The economy operates on cash and subsidized farming. Copra and cocoa production are the main agricultural exports.
The main group of indigenous inhabitants of Rabaul is the Tolai people. Other groups come from the surrounding areas of Baining, Sulka, Taulil and Pomio.
The growth of the town has continued under the Australian administration. The ongoing development of the economy, health, and education systems has enabled the population to thrive during post war times.