Papua (Indonesian province)

From Academic Kids

Map showing Papua province in Indonesia
Map showing Papua province in Indonesia

Papua is a province of Indonesia comprising part of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands (see also Western New Guinea).

The name Papua may also refer to either the entire island of New Guinea or to the southern half of the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea. The name West Papua is preferred among nationalists who hope to separate from Indonesia and form their own country (the region was promised a referendum on independence from the Netherlands). The province was known as West Irian or Irian Barat from 1969 to 1973Irian is the Indonesian term for the island of New Guinea. It was then renamed Irian Jaya (roughly translated, "Victorious Irian") by Suharto, a name that remained in official use until 2002. During the colonial era the region was known as Dutch New Guinea or Netherlands New Guinea.

The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea, but in 2003, the western portion of the province, on the Bird's Head Peninsula, was made a separate province named West Irian Jaya.



The nature of Indonesian government in Papua is controversial. International opinion varies a great deal. Some view it as naked colonialism, others maintain that Indonesia represents a legitimate authority with a willing people. Frank expression of views is complicated by the delicate and troubled relationship many nations have with Indonesia.

According to the United States Country Studies - Library of Congress ( report about Indonesian government structure:

"Since independence the nation has been centrally governed from Jakarta in a system in which the lines of authority, budget, and personnel appointment run outward and downward. Regional and local governments enjoy little autonomy. Their role is largely administrative: implementing policies, rules, and regulations. Regional officialdom is an extension of the Jakarta bureaucracy. The political goal is to maintain the command framework of the unitary state, even at the cost of developmental efficiency. Governments below the national level, therefore, serve essentially as subordinate administrative units through which the functional activities of Jakarta-based departments and agencies reach out into the country."

In 1999 it was proposed to split the province into three government-controlled sectors, sparking Papuan protests (see external article ( In 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 Irian Jaya (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 central province was declared in illegal by Indonesian courts and in contravention to Papua's (originally all of the area) status of "Special Autonomy".


Indonesia structures regions by Regencies and districts 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 2001 the Irian Jaya (Papua) Province consisted of 12 regencies (kabupaten), 1 city (kotamadya), 117 subdistricts (kecamatan), 66 kelurahan, and 830 villages (desa).

Missing image
Map showing major Papuan cities

The Regencies ("kabupaten") in 2002 were: Sorong; Manokwari; Fakfak; Mimika; Yapen-Waropen; Biak-Numfor; Nabire; Puncak Jaya; Paniai; Jayawijaya; Merauke; and Jayapura. In addition to these: the cities Sorong and Jayapura also have the status of a Regency. See main article Indonesian Regencies of Papua for further details.

Hollandia, founded on 7 March 1910, 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 Batallion. The name of the city has been changed from Hollandia to Kotabaru, then to Sukarnopura and finally to Jayapura. Papuans now like to call it Port Numbai, the name of the place before the arrival of foreigners.

Jayapura is the largest city, boasting a small but active tourism industry, it is built on a slope overlooking the bay. Cendrawasih University or Uncen campus at Abepura houses the University Museum. Tanjung Ria beach, well-known to the Allies during World War II, and the site of the allied invasion on 22 April 1944, near the market at Hamadi, as well as the site of General Douglas MacArthur's World War II headquarters at Ifar Gunung have monuments commemorating the events.


Land Area
Area420,540 km2
Rain fall1800 to 3000 mm

A central East-West mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1600 km in total length. The western section is around 600 km long and 100 km across. Steep mountains 3000 to 4000 m and up to 5000 m high along the range ensures a steady supply of rain from the tropical atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks are snowbound year round.

Both North and West of the central ranges the land remains mountainous mostly 1000 to 2000 m high covered by thick rain forest and a warm humid year round climate.

The third major habitat feature is the south east lowlands with extensive wetlands stretching for hundreds of kilometers.

The Mamberamo river, sometimes referred to as the "Amazon of Papua" is the province's largest river 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; Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) is a mist covered limestone mountain peak 4884 m above sea level.

Tribal groupings in Papua


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

Animal ClassEst. Number
endemic bird450

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.

Ecological dangers include deforestation at an alarming rate; the spread of the exotic Crab-eating Macaque which now threatens the existence of many species; pollution such as Grasberg mine dumping 190,000 tons of copper and gold tailings into the rivers system each day;

Postage stamps

Missing image
12s stamp of 1963

During the 1960s, the region had its own postage stamps. The first were overprints reading "UNTEA" (United Nations Temporary Executive Authority) applied to the stamps of Dutch New Guinea, issued in 1962. There are four slightly different types of overprint, three types applied locally, and a fourth made in the Netherlands and sold by the UN in New York City.

These were superseded on 1 May 1963 by stamps of Indonesia overprinted "IRIAN BARAT" and a series of six commemoratives whose designs included a map of Indonesia stretching "from Sabang to Merauke" and a parachutist landing in New Guinea. These, as were later issues in 1968 and 1970, were inscribed both "IRIAN BARAT" and "REPUBLIK INDONESIA". The last issue specifically for the territory consisted of two depicting birds (Black-Capped Lory and Bird of Paradise), issued 26 October 1970.

See also

External links



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de:West-Papua id:Papua it:Irian Jaya ja:イリアンジャヤ


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