Getting to Know Sorong: The City in West Papua that Holds Great Economic Potentials

West Papua

In West Papua Province, there are some economic hubs responsible for the whole region’s financial development. One of which is Sorong, the city in West Papua with great economic potentials. Back in the Dutch colonialism, Sorong was already well known for its massive natural resources which could fully support the region’s economic growth. 

As soon as Indonesia was declared independent, Papua land was also set free. Indonesian Government prepared Sorong and other cities in West Papua to be the province’s economic centers. 

General Facts about Sorong

West Papua

Hundreds of years ago, the name “Sorong” was derived from the word “Soren”, a word in Biak language that has a meaning: “deep and wavy sea.” The name was a gift by sailors from Biak. 

When Indian and Chinese merchants stopped by at the New Guinea land, they tended to mispronounce the word “Soren.” Over time, the word gradually turned to sound “Sorong.” Many missionaries from Europe and sailors from Maluku also followed the mispronunciation. 

Sorong City consists of diverse surfaces of land that includes high land, low land, and mountains. The precipitation of rain is quite high in the city; the rain falls almost every month. Plus, the level of humidity reaches up to 84%. Nonetheless, the land contains rich natural resources—especially oil. It has made the city a place with massive potentials for many investors and migrants. 

There are several rivers in Sorong, such as Klagison, Remu, Klabala, Rufei, Duyung, and Klasaman. The high rainfall and rivers combined have made the city an ideal fertile land for farming. Those rivers also allow the locals to plant and harvest sago as much as they need, just enough to fulfill their daily staple food supply. The balanced nature elements combined with the number migrants who moved to the land has left Sorong one of Papua’s most rapid-growing towns.

Sorong & Its Great Economic Potentials

West Papua

When the Dutch colonialist came to Sorong City for the first time, they saw great potentials from the natural resources discovered in the area—especially oil. Thus, they opened an oil mining as well as a refinery company known as Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea Petroleum Maatschappij. The company contributed pretty much to Netherland’s economic growth, but the fact also left Sorong with too much attention.

More migrants from overseas came and moved to Sorong with high expectation on grabbing a lot of financial profits from the rising oil business run by the Dutch colonialist. Since then, the business caused the town to grow into a very hectic town. 

Populated with more or less 254,294 people (based on the estimated census in mid-2019), nowadays, Sorong is widely known as the second-largest and busiest city in West Papua. Since about a decade ago, the city has begun to show significant support to the entire province’s economic development.

In addition to the oil business, currently, there are other business fields have started to become profitable to the locals. The fields covering properties, commerce, transportations, tourism and services now have dominated to increase Sorong’s revenue. As a matter of fact, in 2013, due to traveling trend, there are more business opportunities open for homestay and traditional market. It is good news for the locals who run a small business in the city.

The Importance of Small Business in Sorong

West Papua

Far before the rise of the traveling trend occurred, Sorong had already been strongly supported by small and medium businesses. One of the goals that the regional government attempted to do back then was to raise the awareness about “encouraging small businesses” in Sorong. 

Fortunately, the central government has also increased more infrastructures—especially on internet access—to help the local communities in Sorong promote their small to medium business to the entire country and even globally.

In late 2017, Sorong City even reported only 0.12% of deflation, which means there was a rise in the index of consumption prices. Several products played a big role there; some of which were mustard greens, dried fish, kawalina fish, tuna, jackfruit, garlic, spinach, and onions. 

The Potentials of Sorong’s Tourism

West Papua

Furthermore, Sorong also has quite good potentials in the tourism sector. There are still unexplored beautiful tourist attractions in the city. Not to mention that the city in West Papua is also the main access to Raja Ampat Regency—the most prominent tourist destination in the province. 

Some Programs Aimed to Boost Sorong’s Economy through Tourism Sector

Both central and regional governments have started executing some of the following programs to support the city’s economic development. 

  • More road buildings to increase the number of tourists coming to the city. The newest roads built currently connect the downtown with airports, ports and some districts with good potentials in the tourism sector. 
  • Better improvement on natural tourism potentials including mangrove forests, Um Island, and birdlife sanctuary. 
  • More development on beach attractions. Islands of Doom, Raam, Item and Soop are among Sorong’s best beaches to visit. However, the beaches are lacking public facilities to attract more tourists. 

Sorong may not have reached all its potentials yet, but it shows rapid growth in supporting the economy of West Papua. With better cooperation between the government and local communities, the city will remain one of the province’s great economic hubs.