Talking about West Papua means that it cannot be separated from what is called uniqueness, beauty, and biodiversity. Everything is so interesting that many people want to go there to enjoy nature and culture at the same time. Many cultures and customs exist in this eastern province of Indonesia. Are you curious? Here’s the information!
The Population of Papuan
Papua has natural wealth that is unmatched in the world. Even so, Papua only has a population of around 2.9 million with a population density of 9 people per sq km. In fact, not infrequently, the people there live inland. Papuans are believed to be descended from the first inhabitants who arrived at least 40,000 years ago.
Papua’s dense forests are known for their incredible biodiversity. It includes the intricate mosaics of the various tribal groups available. You will find around 255 indigenous groups in West Papua, including some of which are still indigenous and untouched. Each group has its language, and some are unrelated to others outside their tribe.
Not infrequently, the tribes in Papua only consist of a few hundred people. This enormous diversity has contributed to at least 25% of the world’s languages spoken in Papua. This diversity is created by the varied landscapes that Papua offers – from coastal areas to mountainous areas. That is why they live in different cultures and customs.
The Papuan Culture Based on Their Place to Live
Given that each group has a different place to live, Papuans have several ways to survive. For example, the central mountainous region of Papua is home to highland people. The tribes residing there would cultivate the land with sweet potatoes, sugar cane, and other crops. It includes tribes in the Baliem Valley such as the Dani, Lani, and Yali tribes.
Almost all members of the tribe in West Papua still practice their traditional culture and customs. The trick is to celebrate at the annual Baliem Valley Festival. People who live in the central mountains, the Jayawijaya Highlands, and the Baliem valley are famous for still wearing traditional clothes. They will use koteka, penis gourd, and others, depending on their respective tribes.
Meanwhile, groups living in lowland areas tend to use sago palms as their staple food. Not only that, they will catch fish downstream of the river and cultivate the land to a certain extent. Meanwhile, the tribes living further upstream of the river also produce sago trees and hunt wild boars as food. This group tends not to cultivate the land but hunt and fish in rivers.
Unlike the tribes who live in the mountains, some tribes of West Papua residing in coastal areas are more influenced by foreign cultures. It is due to more intense interactions through trade, missionaries, and greater territorial accessibility. Foreign influences avoided the interior tribes because they did not have easy access to the area.
Having a vast landscape, the Papuan people have customs and culture according to which they live. The tribes who live in the highlands, lowlands, and the coast, will have a different way of life. Inland areas in the mountains, on average, are still untouched. Meanwhile, the beach is more modern because of greater access.