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Province of Papua
Coat of arms of Papua.png

Motto: Karya Swadaya (Sanskrit)
(Work with one's own might)

Capital Jayapura
Governor Barnabas Suebu
Area 421,981 km2 (162,928 sq mi)
Population 1,994,531  (2005)
Density 4.7 /km2 (12 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Indigenous: Papuan, Melanesian (including Aitinyo, Aefak, Asmat, Agast, Dani, Ayamaru, Mandacan Biak, Serui), Non-indigenous (including Javanese, Bugis, Minangkabau, Batak, Minahasan, Chinese.)
Religion Protestant (51.2%), Roman Catholic (25.42%), Islam (23%), others (2.5%)
Languages Indonesian (official), 269 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages[1]
Time zone WIT (UTC+9)
Web site

Papua is the largest province of Indonesia, comprising most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea. In 2003, the Indonesian government declared the westernmost part of the island, around Bird's Head Peninsula, a separate province; its name was first West Irian Jaya and now West Papua.



Within Indonesia and West Papua itself, 'Papua' usually refers to the entire western half of New Guinea - West Papua - despite its official division into separate provinces. What is referred to as 'Papua' in Indonesia is generally referred to as 'West Papua' internationally - especially among networks of international solidarity with the West Papuan national movement.

"Papua" is the official Indonesian and internationally recognised name for the province. During the Dutch colonial era the region was known as part of "Dutch New Guinea" or "Netherlands New Guinea". Since its annexation in 1969, it became known as "West Irian" or "Irian Barat" until 1973, and thereafter renamed "Irian Jaya" (roughly translated, "Glorious Irian") by the Suharto administration.[2][3] This was the official name until "Papua" was adopted in 2002. Today, natives of this province prefer to call themselves Papuans rather than Irianese. This may be due to etymology (variously identified as a real etymology or a folk etymology) of the name Irian which stems from the acronym Ikut Republik Indonesia, Anti Nederland (join/follow the Republic of Indonesia, rejecting the Netherlands).[citation needed]

The name "West Papua" was adopted in 1961 by the New Guinea Council until the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) transferred administration to the Republic of Indonesia in 1963. "West Papua" has since been used among Papuan separatists and usually refers to the whole of the Indonesian portion of New Guinea. The other Indonesian province that shares New Guinea, West Irian Jaya, has been officially renamed as "West Papua".


The province of Papua is governed by a directly elected governor (currently Barnabas Suebu) and a regional legislature, DPRP (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua). A unique government organisation that only exists in Papua is the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua / Papuan People's Council) that was formed by the Indonesian Government in 2005 as a coalition of Papuan tribal chiefs, tasked with arbitration and speaking on behalf of Papuan tribal customs.

Indonesian governance of Papua is recognised by the United Nations and practically all members of international community. Like the rest of Indonesia, governance of the province has traditionally been strong. Papua was a major beneficiary of a nation-wide decentralisation process started in 1999 and the Special Autonomy status introduced in 2002. Measures included the formation of the MRP and redistribution of resource revenues. The implementation, however, of the Special Autonomy measures has been criticized by many as only being half-hearted.[citation needed]

In 1999 it was proposed to split the province into three government-controlled sectors, sparking Papuan protests (see external article). In January 2003 President Megawati Sukarnoputri signed an order dividing Papua into three provinces: Central Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Tengah), Papua (or East Irian Jaya, Irian Jaya Timur), and West Papua (Irian Jaya Barat). The formality of installing a local government for Jaraka in Irian Jaya Barat (West) took place in February 2003 and a governor was appointed in November; a government for Irian Jaya Tengah (central) was delayed from August 2003 due to violent local protests. The creation of this separate central province was blocked by Indonesian courts, who declared it to be unconstitutional and in contravention of the Papua's special autonomy agreement. The previous division into two provinces was allowed to stand as an established fact. (King, 2004, p. 91)

In January 2006, 43 refugees landed on the coast of Australia and stated that the Indonesian military is carrying out a genocide in Papua. This was a rumor developed from military operations against OPM, the rebel group fighting for Papua's freedom. They were transported to an Australian immigration detention facility on Christmas Island, 360 km (224 mi) south of the western end of Java. On 23 March 2006, the Australian government granted temporary visas to 42 of the 43 asylum seekers (the 43rd, who had a Japanese visa at the time of his arrival, finally received an Australian visa in early August 2006). Later, several of these refugees returned to Indonesia, saying they were "disillusioned" with the group.[4] On 24 March 2006 Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Australia.[5][6]


Indonesia structures regions by regencies and subdistricts within those. Though names and areas of control of these regional structures can vary over time in accord with changing political and other requirements, in 2005 Papua province consisted of 19 regencies (kabupaten).

The regencies ("kabupaten") are: Asmat; Biak-Numfor; Boven Digoel; Jayapura; Jayawijaya; Keerom; Mappi; Merauke; Mimika; Nabire; Paniai; Pegunungan Bintang; Puncak Jaya; Sarmi; Supiori; Tolikara; Waropen; Yahukimo and Yapen Waropen. In addition to these, the city of Jayapura also has the status of a regency.

Jayapura, founded on 7 March 1910 as Hollandia, had by 1962 developed into a city with modern civil, educational, and medical services. Since Indonesian administration these services have been replaced by Indonesian equivalents such as the TNI (the army) replacing the Papua Battalion. The name of the city has been changed to Kotabaru, then to Sukarnopura and finally to its current official name. Among ethnic Papuans, it is also known as Port Numbai, the former name before the arrival of immigrants.

Jayapura is the largest city, boasting a small but active tourism industry, it is built on a slope overlooking the bay. Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) campus at Abepura houses the University Museum. Both Tanjung Ria beach, near the market at Hamadi — site of the 22 April 1944 Allied invasion during World War II — and the site of General Douglas MacArthur's World War II headquarters at Ifar Gunung have monuments commemorating the events.


A central east-west mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1,600 km (994 mi) in total length. The western section is around 600 km (373 mi) long and 100 km (62 mi) across. The province contains the highest mountains between the Himalayas and the Andes, rising up to 4884 m high, and ensuring a steady supply of rain from the tropical atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers, increasingly melting due to a changing climate. Various other smaller mountain ranges occur both north and west of the central ranges. Except in high elevations, most areas possess a hot humid climate throughout the year, with some seasonal variation associated with the northeast monsoon season.

The third major habitat feature are the vast southern and northern lowlands. Stretching for hundreds of kilometers, these include lowland rainforests, extensive wetlands, savanna grasslands, and some of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in the world. The southern lowlands are the site of Lorentz National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The province's largest river is the Mamberamo, sometimes called the "Amazon of Papua", which winds through the northern part of the province. The result is a large area of lakes and rivers known as the Lakes Plains region. The famous Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people is a tableland 1600 m above sea level in the midst of the central mountain range; Puncak Jaya, sometimes known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, is a mist covered limestone mountain peak 4884 m above sea level.

Ethnic groups

The following are some of the most well-known ethnic groups of Papua:


The population of Papua province and the neighbouring West Papua province, both of which are still under a united administration, totalled 2,646,489 in 2005.[7] Since the early 1990s Papua has had the highest population growth rate of all Indonesian provinces at over 3% annually. This is partly a result of high birth rates, but mainly due to migration from other parts of Indonesia. While indigenous Papuans formed the near-totality of the population in 1961, they are now roughly 50% of the population, the other half being composed of non-Papuan migrants coming from other parts of Indonesia. Overwhelming percentage of these migrants came as self-sponsored spontaneous migrants seeking better opportunities in Papua, while a minority were part of government-sponsored transmigration programme.

According to the 2000 census, 78% of the Papuans identified themselves as Christian with 54% being Protestant and 24% being Roman Catholic. 21% of the population was Muslim and less than 1% were Buddhist or Hindu.[8] There is also substantial practice of animism by Papuans.

The densest population center, other than the large coastal cities that house Indonesian bureaucratic and commercial apparatus, is located in and around the town of Wamena in the Palim (a.k.a. Baliem) Valley of the Central Highlands. The 'extreme democracy' and ecological stewardship of the highlands Papuan society is documented by Jared Diamond in the book Collapse.


A vital tropical rainforest with the tallest tropical trees and vast biodiversity, Papua's known forest fauna includes marsupials (including possums, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, cuscuses), other mammals (including the endangered Long-beaked Echidna), many bird species (including birds of paradise, cassowaries, parrots, cockatoos), the world's longest lizards (Papua monitor) and the world's largest butterflies.

The island has an estimated 16,000 species of plant, 124 genera of which are endemic.

The extensive waterways and wetlands of Papua are also home to salt and freshwater crocodile, tree monitors, flying foxes, osprey, bats and other animals; while the equatorial glacier fields remain largely unexplored.

In February 2006, a team of scientists exploring the Foja Mountains, Sarmi, discovered numerous new species of birds, butterflies, amphibians, and plants, including possibly the largest-flowered species of rhododendron.[9]

Protected areas within Papua province include the Lorentz National Park, which is also a World Heritage site and the Wasur National Park, a RAMSAR wetland of international importance.

Ecological threats include logging-induced deforestation, forest conversion for plantation agriculture (especially oil palm), smallholder agricultural conversion, the introduction and potential spread of alien species such as the Crab-eating Macaque which preys on and competes with indigenous species, the illegal species trade, and water pollution from oil and mining operations.

Papua's ancient rain forests have recently come under an even greater threat of deforestation after the Chinese government placed an order of 1 billion US dollar or 800,000 cubic meters of the threatened merbau rainforest timbers, used in buildings for the 2008 Summer Olympics.[10]

In remote forested valleys, several thousand smallholder farmers are growing Arabica coffee in the shade of Calliandra, Erythrina and Albizia trees. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not available in these valleys. Since there are no roads, the coffee is flown out and then exported from the port of Jayapura.[11]

See also


  • King, Peter, West Papua Since Suharto: Independence, Autonomy, or Chaos?. University of New South Wales Press, 2004, ISBN 0-86840-676-7.
  1. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (2005). "Languages of Indonesia (Papua)". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  2. ^ Simpson, Brad (2004-07-09). "Indonesia's 1969 Takeover of West Papua Not by "Free Choice"". National Security Archive. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  3. ^ "Undang-2, Inpres, dll. - Laws, Decrees, etc.". Cenderawasih University. 2005-02-23. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  4. ^ "Papua refugees get Australia visa". BBC News. 2006-03-23. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  5. ^ "Indonesia recalls Australia envoy". BBC News. 2006-03-24. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  6. ^ "2 Papuan Asylum Seeks Returned from Australia". Jakarta Globe. 2008-11-30. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  7. ^ "Proyeksi Penduduk menurut Kabupaten/Kota". Badan Pusat Statistik. 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  8. ^ Profile of Papua - official website
  9. ^ Kirby, Terry (2006-02-07). "Scientists hail discovery of hundreds of new species in remote New Guinea". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  10. ^ Perlez, Jane (2006-04-29). "Forests in Southeast Asia Fall to Prosperity's Ax". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  11. ^ "Papua New Guinea coffee prices recover". Radio New Zealand International. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 

External links


Coordinates: 4°12′53″S 137°56′39″E / 4.21472°S 137.94417°E / -4.21472; 137.94417



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