Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Rabaul is located on the island of New Britain, about 40 miles from the main island of New Guinea. It was the capital of the East New Britain province until it was decimated by volcanic eruptions (for the third time)  in 1994. The main volcanoes Tavurvur and its remnant Vulcan became active in the early 1980s, and the island prepared for emergency evacuations. The actual eruptions came a decade later, devastating half the town and killing five people, but the preparedness exercise and 19 crucial hours of warning prevented much larger loss of life.  The town was the main base for the Japanese military during WWII, with approximately 110,000 troops housed there and miles of defensive tunnels contrasted. Despite its volcanic history, the fine harbor ensured that after the war Rabaul once again became an important South Pacific port. The East New Britain archipelago is a popular tourist destination, possessing superb coral reefs, the active volcanic areas themselves and the culturally interesting Tolai people who occupy the Gazelle Peninsula and islands in the East New Britain archipelago.