Papua (Indonesian province)
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|Population||2,795,182 (est. 2005)|
|Ethnic groups||Indigenous: Melanesian (including Aitinyo, Aefak, Asmat, Agast, Dani, Ayamaru, Mandacan Biak, Serui), Non-indigenous (including Javanese, Bugis, Bataknese, Minahasanese, Chinese.)|
|Religion||Protestant (51.2%), Roman Catholic (25.42%), Moslem (25%), Others (2.5%)|
|Languages||Indonesian, 200-700 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages|
|Time zone||WIT (UTC+9)|
Papua is a province of Indonesia comprising a majority part of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands (see also Western 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 declared by Jakarta as a separate province named West Irian Jaya. The legality of this separation has been disputed as it appears to conflict with the conditions of the Special Autonomy status awarded to Papua in the year 2000. The status of West Irian Jaya province is not yet resolved as of early 2006.
Papua is the official Indonesian and internationally recognised name for the province. During the colonial era the region was known as Dutch New Guinea or Netherlands New Guinea. The province was known as West Irian or Irian Barat from 1969 to 1973, and then renamed Irian Jaya (roughly translated, "Glorious Irian") by Suharto. 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).
The name West Papua is used among Papuan separatists and usually refers to the whole of the Indonesian portion of New Guinea. Interestingly enough, the other Indonesian province that shares New Guinea, West Irian Jaya, is renaming itself to "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 controversial with international opinion varying 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. The Free Papua Movement strives for independence of the area from Indonesia. Like the rest of Indonesia, governance of the province has traditionally been strong and centralised from Jakarta. 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.
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 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 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. They were transported to an Australian immigration detention facility on Christmas Island, 360 km south of the western end of Java. On March 23, 2006, the Australian government granted temporary visas to 42 of the 43 asylum seekers. A day later Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Australia.
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 1600 km in total length. The western section is around 600 km long and 100 km 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 -- sadly disappearing 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 warm 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 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; Puncak Jaya, sometimes known by its former Dutch name Carstensz Pyramid, is a mist covered limestone mountain peak 4884 m above sea level.
The following are some of the most well-known tribes of Papua:
The population of Papua province and the neighboring West Irian Jaya, both of which are still under a united administration, totalled 2,646,489 in 2005. 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 also from immigration from other regions in Indonesia.
According to the 2000 census, 78% of the Papuan population identified themselves as Christian with 54% being Protestant and 24% being Catholic. 21% of the population was Muslim and less than 1% were Buddhist or Hindu. There is also substantial practice of animism by Papuans, which is not recorded by the Indonesian government in line with the policy of Pancasila.
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 a species of rhododendron which may have the largest bloom of the genus.
Ecological threats include logging-induced deforestation, forest conversion for plantation agriculture (especially oil palm), smallholder agricultural conversion, the introduction and potential spread of non-native 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 has placed an order of 1 billion US dollar or 800,000 cubic meters of the threatened merbau (intsia spp) rainforest timbers, to be used in constructions for the 2008 Summer Olympics 
 See also
- New Guinea
- Western New Guinea
- West Irian Jaya
- British New Guinea
- German New Guinea
- Dutch New Guinea
- Human rights in western New Guinea
- Free Papua Movement
- ^ "Papua refugees get Australia visa", BBC News - 23 March 2006
- ^ "Indonesia recalls Australia envoy", BBC News - 24 March 2006
- ^ BPS Papua
- ^ Profile of Papua - official website
- ^ Robin McDowell, "'Lost world' yields exotic new species", Associated Press story in The Vancouver Sun, February 8, 2006
 External links
- Official website
- Online Library West Papua
- Solidarity South Pacific - West Papua
- "Human Abuse in West Papua - Application of Law to Genocide"
- "Prison, Torture and Murder in Jayapura - Twelve Days in an Indonesian Jail" (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2000)
- Map showing the three new provinces
- Declassified US documents on "Act of free choice"
- Languages and Ethnic Groups of Papua Province, SIL Ethnologue
- Free West Papua (Pro-independence site)
- The Deforesting of Irian Jaya, 1994
- Monkeys Threaten New Guinea's Wildlife, October 2, 2001, Wall Street Journal (archived)
- An article on biodiversity
- Wetlands Study
- King, Peter, West Papua Since Suharto: Independence, Autonomy, or Chaos?. University of New South Wales Press, 2004, ISBN 0-86840-676-7.