Under Australian rule, Mendi became administrative headquarters for the Southern Highlands (then "District") in 1950-1951. Like most of the rest of the province, Mendi remains one of the least economically developed parts of Papua New Guinea, having been a significant site neither of expatriate nor of locally run market-oriented enterprises until recently. The colonial history of the province, from the 1950s through independence in 1975, was dominated instead by government administrators and missionaries. However, soon after independence the province initiated a large World Bank-funded integrated rural development project. That project, together with the recent discovery of mineral resources, will undoubtedly have important repercussions. Of course, Mendi "history" predates the colonial period. While some Mendi groups view themselves as autochthonous, others claim to have immigrated into the valley from the north and northeast five or more generations ago. Mendi oral traditions record shifting group alliances and expanding populations.