The town of Mount Hagen is at the base of the mountain of the same name in Western Highlands Province. In 1933 the first European expedition into the highlands set up a base camp at Mount Hagen for three months. In 1934 Father W.A. Ross of the Society of the Divine Word (Catholic) established a mission station. Mount Hagen is the commercial center and headquarters of the province. The town has a hospital which provides specialist services, a national high school and a Catholic Teachers’ College. Catholic, Lutheran and Evangelical Alliance churches also provide health and education services. In the mid-1960s the town was linked to Lae on the east coast by the Highlands Highway. It has one of PNG’s busiest airports for both passengers and freight. The local market has a wide variety of traditional foods and introduced European fruit and vegetables The population rose from 13,441 in 1980 to 17,392 in 1990an increase of 29 percent.