West Papua Diary

Get to Know the Difference Between Papua and West Papua

Get to Know the Difference Between Papua and West Papua

There may have been questions that popped up in your mind about the difference between Papua and West Papua. Well, bet you are not the only one. It can be confusing, especially when there are some ways to answer those questions.

The first is an explanation of the differences in the Indonesian context. So, the differences between Papua Indonesia and West Papua Indonesia. This usually refers to the difference between Papua Province and West Papua Province.

Second is the explanation in terms of an international point of view. It is where the mentioning of Papua refers to Papua New Guinea, and West Papua refers to the western part of the island, which is part of Indonesia.

But now, we will focus on the topic that people find most confusing at times. It is the difference between Papua Province and West Papua Province. Let’s get into the details, shall we?


In these segments, we will particularly talk about the history of the terms Papua and West Papua and their differences in the context of Indonesian development from time to time.

We can start with 1962, when Indonesia and Nederland sign the New York Agreement. That is to say, the whole western part of the neighboring country, Papua New Guinea, becomes part of Indonesia. Therefore, previously Dutch New Guinea areas became the province of Irian Barat or West Irian.

Soekarno, the 1st president of Indonesia, changed the provinces’ names to Irian Jaya in 1973. Time flies; another change happens in the tenure of Gus Dur, the 4th president of Indonesia.

During his leadership period, 1999-2001, he had several dialogues with the local people. As a result, in 2001, he officially changed the name Irian Jaya become Papua. This official change is much appreciated by the local people.

Furthermore, in 2003, the Indonesian government officially divided Papua province into two provinces. Papua province and Irian Jaya Barat province. As a new province, Irian Jaya Barat keeps growing and developing. Until in 2007, Irian Jaya Barat become West Papua or “Papua Barat” under PP No.24 Tahun 2007.

Geographic Area

Given the history, you probably already understand the difference between Papua and West Papua better. To get to know better, let’s check into the area differences.

In general, West Papua is in the westernmost areas of the island. It consists of an archipelago with two famous peninsulas, the Bird’s Head and the Bomberai. The total area of West Papua is 102,946 km2.

Meanwhile, Papua is more on the eastern side, bordered by some areas of the neighboring country, Papua New Guinea. The total area is around 309.934 km2.


After the expansion to become two different provinces, Papua province consists of 29 regencies. 28 Kabupaten and 1 Kota. The administrative center of Papua province is Jayapura, the largest city in Papua.

On the other hand, West Papua consists of 14 regencies. 13 Kabupaten and 1 Kota, with Manokwari as the capital city. Even though Manokwari is the capital, but to be noted, the biggest city in West Papua is Sorong.


So there it is, quite simple, Papua and West Papua are two different provinces under the Indonesian government.

People sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between the two is the history in which the two were once the same province. And, of course, because the locations of these two provinces are close together and are in the same archipelago, along with the neighboring country Papua New Guinea.

Generally speaking, this also causes differences in international perspectives, which simplify Papua as Papua New Guinea and West Papua as an area to the west of Papua New Guinea, which is part of Indonesia.

Final Words

Despite those differences between Papua and West Papua, we must note that both are parts of Indonesia. They both have a lot of natural and cultural richness, for those we need to appreciate and be proud of.

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