Papua (province)

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Province of Papua
Provinsi Papua
Flag of Province of Papua
Official seal of Province of Papua
Motto: Karya Swadaya (Sanskrit)
(Work with one's own might)
Location of Province of Papua in Indonesia
Location of Province of Papua in Indonesia
Coordinates (Jayapura): 2°32′S 140°43′E / 2.533°S 140.717°E / -2.533; 140.717Coordinates: 2°32′S 140°43′E / 2.533°S 140.717°E / -2.533; 140.717
Country  Indonesia
Capital Jayapura
 • Governor Lukas Enembe[1]
 • Total 319,036.05 km2 (123,180.51 sq mi)
Population (2014)
 • Total 3,486,432
 • Density 11/km2 (28/sq mi)
  Health Ministry 2014 Estimate
 • Ethnic groups Papuan, Melanesian (including Aitinyo, Aefak, Asmat, Agast, Dani, Ayamaru, Mandacan Biak, Serui), Javanese, Bugis, Mandar, Minangkabau, Batak, Minahasan, Chinese.
 • Religion Protestantism (65.48%), Roman Catholicism (17.67%), Islam (15.89%), Hinduism (0.09%), Buddhism (0.05%)
 • Languages Indonesian (official), 269 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages[2]
Time zone EIT (UTC+09)

Papua (Indonesian: Provinsi Papua) is a province of Indonesia. It comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. Its capital is Jayapura. It is the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia.

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 is now West Papua: the remaining part retained the name, Province of Papua. It is bordered by the nation of Papua New Guinea to the east.


"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.[3][4] This was the official name until the name "Papua" was adopted in 2002. Today, the indigenous inhabitants of this province prefer to call themselves Papuans.

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 by Papuans as a self-identifying term, especially by those demanding self-determination, 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".

Within Indonesia and West Papua itself, 'Papua' usually refers to the entire western half of New Guinea despite its division into separate provinces.[citation needed] Western New Guinea is generally referred to as 'West Papua' internationally – especially among networks of international solidarity with the West Papuan independence movement.[citation needed]


A building in Timika labelled as the office of the governor of Central Papua Province

The province of Papua is governed by a directly elected governor (currently Lukas Enembe) and a regional legislature, DPRP (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua).[citation needed] A government organisation that only exists in Papua is the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua / Papuan People's Council), which 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 sovereignty over Papua dates back to 1969, when Indonesia conducted a referendum on the self-determination of the peoples of Papua under an agreement with the United Nations to respect any result. Instead of conducting a democratic referendum amongst the general population, Indonesian security forces forcibly coerced a small number of tribal elders to vote to join Indonesia; some elders were not even made aware that a referendum was to be conducted beforehand. Nevertheless, the agreement with the UN was nominally upheld, and was recognised by the international community in spite of protests. This intensified the independence movement among indigenous West Papuans, deepening the Papua conflict, which began when the Dutch withdrew from the East Indies in 1963. The conflict has continued to the present, with Indonesian security forces being accused of numerous human rights abuses in their suppression of the independence movement. The Indonesian government maintains tight control over the region, barring foreign journalists or rights monitors from entering; those who do must do so covertly.[5]

In 1999 it was proposed to split the province into three government-controlled sectors, sparking Papuan protests.[6] 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.[7]

Administrative divisions[edit]

As of 2010 (following the separation of West Papua Province in 2003), the residual Papua Province consisted of 28 regencies (kabupaten) and one autonomous city (kotamadya); these regencies are subdivided into 117 districts (kecamatan), and thence into 66 kelurahan and 830 villages (desa).

The regencies ("kabupaten") and the city are listed below with their areas and their populations at the 2010 Census and at the latest (2014) Estimates.

Name Area (km2) Population
Estimate 2005
Census 2010
Estimate 2014
Merauke Regency 44,071.00 154,310 195,716 240,826 Merauke
Jayawijaya Regency 7,030.66 207,480 196,085 241,280 Wamena
Jayapura Regency 11,157.15 90,972 111,943 137,744 Sentani
Jayapura (city) 935.92 197,396 256,705 315,872 Jayapura City
Nabire Regency 11,112.61 159,548 129,893 159,831 Nabire
Yapen Islands Regency
(Kepulauan Yapen)
2,050.00 70,201 82,951 102,070 Serui
Biak Numfor Regency 2,602.00 99,204 126,798 156,023 Biak
Paniai Regency 6,525.25 111,412 153,432 188,796 Enarotali
Puncak Jaya Regency 4,989.51 111,488 101,148 124,461 Kotamulia
Mimika Regency 21,633.00 126,344 182,001 223,949 Timika
Boven Digoel Regency 27,108.00 * 55,784 68,641 Tanah Merah
Mappi Regency 24,118.00 65,219 81,658 100,479 Kepi
Asmat Regency 31,983.69 61,642 76,577 94,227 Agats
Yahukimo Regency 17,152.00 134,702 164,512 202,430 Sumohai
Bintang Mountain Regency
(Pegunungan Bintang)
15,682.00 86,979 65,434 80,516 Oksibil
Tolikara Regency 5,588.13 44,100 114,427 140,801 Karubaga
Sarmi Regency 17,742.00 31,500 32,971 40,570 Sarmi
Keerom Regency 8,390.00 37,048 48,536 59,723 Waris
Waropen Regency 10,977.09 21,181 24,639 30,318 Botawa
Supiori Regency 678.32 12,152 15,874 19,533 Sorendiweri
Mamberamo Raya Regency 23,813.91 # 18,365 22,598 Burmeso
Nduga Regency 2,168.00 # 79,053 97,274 Kenyam
Lanny Jaya Regency 2,248.00 # 148,522 182,754 Tiom
Central Mamberamo Regency
(Mamberamo Tengah)
1,275.00 # 39,537 48,650 Kobakma
Yalimo Regency 1,253.00 # 50,763 62,463 Elelim
Puncak Regency 8,055.00 # 93,218 114,702 Ilaga
Dogiyai Regency 4,237.40 # 84,230 103,643 Kigamani
Intan Jaya Regency 3,922.02 # 40,490 49,822 Sugapa
Deiyai Regency 537.39 # 62,119 76,436 Tigi
* The 2005 estimated population of Boven Digoel Regency is included in the figure quoted for Merauke Regency, from which Boven Digoel was divided.
# The 2005 estimated population of this regency are included in the figures quoted for the existing regency from which the newer regency was divided in 2007.

On 12 November 2002, Keerom and Sarmi Regencies were split from Jayapura Regency; Bintang Mountain (Pegunungan Bintan), Tolikara and Yahukimo Regencies were split from Jayawijaya Regency; Asmat, Boven Digoel and Mappi Regencies were split from Merauke Regency; and Yapen Waropen Regency was split into Yapen Islands Regency (Kepulauan Yapen) and Waropen Regency. Supiori Regency was split from Biak Numfor Regency on 8 January 2004.

Proposed new regencies, cities and provinces[edit]

On 25 October 2013 the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) began reviewing draft laws on the establishment of 57 prospective regencies/cities (and 8 new provinces).[8] This included three new provinces to be formed from parts of the existing Papua Province, as well as the creation of seventeen new regencies and two new cities (independent municipalities). The new regencies will be Gili Menawa, Moyo, Balin Senter, Bogogha, Puncak Trikora, Muara Digul, Admi Korbay, Katengban, Okika, Northwest Yapen, East Yapen, Numfor Island, Yalimek, Mambera Hulu, Southwest Yahukimo, East Yahukimo amd Gondumisisare and the municipalities of Merauke and Lembah Baliem (Baliem Valley).

The three new provinces from parts of the existing Papua province have recently been approved by Indonesia's House of Representatives: South Papua, Central Papua and Southwest Papua.[9]

The proposed South Papua (Papua Selatan) Province would cover an area of 119,749 square kms, which is rich in natural resources. It will encompass five existing regencies - Asmat, Boven Digoel, Muyu (recently split from Boven Digoel), Mappi, and Merauke (including Merauke City, scheduled to become a municipality) and will thus equate closely to the original Merauke Regency prior to the splitting of that entity in 2002.

The other new provinces to be created would include the new regencies of Gili Menawa, Moyo, Balin Senter (from Lanny Jaya Regency), Bogogha (from Tolikara Regency), Puncak Trikora (from Nduga Regency), Muara Digul, Admi Korbay, Katengban, Okika (from Jayawijaya Regency), Northwest Yapen, East Yapen, Numfor Island, Yalimek, Mambera Hulu, Southwest Yahukimo, East Yahukimo and Gondumisisare, and a new municipality of Lembah Baliem (Baliem Valley).

Jayapura City[edit]

The city of Jayapura also has the status of an autonomous city, equal to a regency. It was founded on 7 March 1910 as Hollandia and is the capital. Since Indonesian administration the name of the city has been changed to Kotabaru, then to Sukarnopura before its current name, Jayapura.[citation needed] Jayapura is also the largest city of Papua Province, with a small but active tourism industry.[clarification needed] It is built on a slope overlooking the bay. Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) campus at Abepura houses the University Museum where some of the Asmat artifacts collected by Michael Rockefeller is stored.[10] 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.[citation needed]


A central east-west mountain range dominates the geography of the island 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers,[citation needed] increasingly melting due to a changing climate.[citation needed] Various other smaller mountain ranges occur both north and west of the central ranges.[citation needed] 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 southern and northern lowlands stretch for hundreds of kilometres and include lowland rainforests, extensive wetlands, savanna grasslands, and expanses of mangrove forest.[citation needed] The southern lowlands are the site of Lorentz National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[citation needed]

The province's largest river is the Mamberamo located in the northern part of the province.[citation needed] The result is a large area of lakes and rivers known as the Lakes Plains region.[citation needed] The Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people, is a tableland 1600 m above sea level in the midst of the central mountain range.[citation needed] Puncak Jaya, also known by its Dutch colonial name, “Carstensz Pyramid”, is a limestone mountain peak 4884 m above sea level.[citation needed] It is the highest peak of Oceania.[citation needed]

Ethnic groups[edit]

Papuan dance from Yapen
Yali people

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

The Yei (pronounced Yay) are sometimes known as the Jei, Je, Yei-nan people.

There are approximately 2,500 speakers of the Yei language. 40% Ethno Religionists- animistic tribal religion 60% Catholics and other Christians (blended with animistic beliefs & customs): The Yei language is believed to have two dialects observed by a Wycliffe, SIL language survey in 2001. At home the Yei people speak their own language but use Indonesian for trade, wider communication and at school. Most Yei are literate in Indonesian.

There are elementary schools in each village. About 10-30% of children continue in middle school. Very few go to high school. The nearest high school is in Merauke city. They live primarily by hunting, fishing, and gardening short and long term crops in the lowlands. The Yei diet mainly consists of rice, vegetables, fish and roasted sago. With their land at an altitude of less than 100 meters above sea level, the Yei people can best be accessed by vehicle on the road from Merauke or by motorized canoe up the Maro River. There is no airstrip or airplane access other than float plane which is currently available from Merauke through MAF by about a 15-minute flight to Toray. The Poo and Bupul villages have a clinic but people still use traditional medicines. There is very little infrastructure in the area: no telephones or toilets. At night electricity is run from a generator. There are (SSB’s) Single side-band radios in Bupul, Tanas, Poo, and Erambu villages, mainly used by the police and military force. Most villages get their drinking water from the Maro River, but some get it from wells or by collecting rain.[citation needed]


1995 ABC news report on the impact of transmigration and development on the Dani

The population of Papua province has a fertility rate of 2.9 children per woman[citation needed] The population grew from the 1.9 million recorded in the 2000 Indonesia Census, to 2.9 million as recorded by the 2010 Census[11] Since the early 1990s Papua has had the highest population growth rate of all Indonesian provinces at over 3% annually.[citation needed] This is partly a result of birth rates, but mainly due to migration from other parts of Indonesia.[citation needed] While indigenous Papuans formed the near-totality of the population in 1961, they are now roughly 50% of the population,[citation needed] the other half being composed of non-Papuan migrants coming from other parts of Indonesia. An overwhelming percentage of these migrants came as part of a government-sponsored transmigration program.[citation needed]

According to the 2010 census, 83.15% of the Papuans identified themselves as Christian with 65.48% being Protestant and 17.67% being Roman Catholic. 15.89% of the population was Muslim and less than 1% were Buddhist or Hindu.[12] 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 Baliem Valley of the Central Highlands.[citation needed]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1971 923,440 —    
1980 1,173,875 +27.1%
1990 1,648,708 +40.5%
1995 1,942,627 +17.8%
2000 2,220,934 +14.3%
2010 2,833,381 +27.6%
2014 3,486,482 +23.1%
Source: Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, 2014 Health Ministry Estimate[13]


One of Papua's potential industries is timber, as forests cover 42 million hectares with an estimated worth of Rp.700 trillion ($78 billion). "If the forests are managed properly and sustainably, they can produce over 500 million cubic meters of logs per annum."[14]

The Grasberg Mine, the world's largest gold mine and third largest copper mine,[15] is located in the highlands near Puncak Jaya, the highest mountain in Papua.


Paradisaea apoda, native to Papua, displaying its feathers

The island has an estimated 16,000 species of plant, 124 genera of which are endemic.[citation needed] Papua's known forest fauna includes; marsupials (including possums, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, cuscuses); other mammals (including the endangered Long-beaked Echidna); bird species such as birds of paradise, cassowaries, parrots, and cockatoos; the world's longest lizards (Papua monitor); and the world's largest butterflies.[citation needed]

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

Protected areas within Papua province include the World Heritage Lorentz National Park, and the Wasur National Park, a RAMSAR wetland of international importance.[citation needed]

In February 2006, a team of scientists exploring the Foja Mountains, Sarmi, discovered new species of birds, butterflies, amphibians, and plants, including possibly the largest-flowered species of rhododendron.[16]

Ecological threats include logging-induced deforestation, forest conversion for plantation agriculture (including 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  • King, Peter, West Papua Since Suharto: Independence, Autonomy, or Chaos?. University of New South Wales Press, 2004, ISBN 0-86840-676-7.

External links[edit]