Manokwari, The Rainy Capital City of West Papua with Great Potentials

West Papua
Pemandangan Kota Manokwari, Provinsi Papua Barat dari udara, Rabu (3/12). Bank Indonesia mencatat sampai dengan Triwulan III-2014, perekonomian Papua Barat tumbuh sebesar 6,4% (yoy) lebih rendah dari triwulan sebelumnya sebesar 7,87% (yoy) yang dipengaruhi kinerja sektor industri pengolahan dan sektor jasa. ANTARA FOTO/Indrianto Eko Suwarso/ss/ama/14

As one of the largest cities in West Papua, Manokwari is populated with 107,325 people (based on census data of 2018). The coastal city is indeed situated right in Cenderawasih Bay and at the top of Bird’s Head Peninsula, surrounded by the Arfak Mountains. 

Back in 2003 Manokwari was eventually declared as the capital city of West Papua which is also the administration center of Manokwari Regency. Nevertheless, based on the recent proposals of the Indonesian Parliament, the city will be separated from the regency. 

Manokwari’s altitude above the sea is about 3-meter high, making it prone to have more rains than sunlight. Moreover, the city’s temperature on average is 26.3 °C with a fluctuation of only 1 °C and 86.3% of humidity level. As a result, the city annually receives 2,597 mm of rain and 2,127 hours of sunshine—meaning only 5.8 hours of sunlight each day. However, until today, there has never been any snow in the city. 

The Capital City of West Papua: The History

West Papua

Manokwari is a city of religious society as two Christian missionaries from Germany, G.G. Geisler and C.W. Ottow visited the city in 1855 to spread Christianity in the entire island. That is why the city has been the center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manokwari-Sarong. After their lifetime dedication, the remains of the German missionaries were buried under a monument at Koawi Church on the access to Pasir Putih (outside of the capital city). 

Historically, Manokwari City was also becoming the site where a Japanese fortress was built during the World War 2 era. However, in 1944, the Japanese troops were finally defeated and surrendered to the American – British Army (the Allied Forces).  

The Society and Their Culture

Despite the fact that Manokwari has been an urbanized area, there are still more or less 24 different ethnic groups in the city that have their own distinctive languages and traditions. Some of the tribes living in the city include Simuri, Kuri, Irarutu, Mascona, Biak, Maya, and Sebyar. Meanwhile, the major tribal groups in the region are Asmat and Dani tribes. 

The tribal people build and live in Papuan traditional houses called Honai—a round-shaped house made of grass roof coverings and wooden walls. These indigenous people of West Papua earn their livings by farming, fishing, and animal hunting. 

Speaking of Papuan culture, you can find several types of traditional musical instruments in Manokwari, such as Tifa, Atowo, and Fu. Some of the men still wear Koteka (genital gourd) even though many of them have worn regular clothes like T-shirts and shorts. 

Those indigenous people also remain making their globally-known wood carvings without doing the old rituals associated with the art pieces (they used to make the carvings to record their traditional rituals like headhunting and respecting their ancestors’ spirits). The wooden shields, masks, and sculptures that they make have become a great export commodity of the capital city. 

Tourism in Manokwari

West Papua

Manokwari is more than just the province’s capital; it also offers numerous attractions you will never forget. Some of which are the scenic Table Mountain Park which is actually a protected natural reserve of a large variety of birds and butterflies. Besides bird-watching, you get to enjoy hiking in the beautiful, tranquil forest since there have been marked trails there. Nearby, while trekking you can also discover a historical site where Japanese Monument was built. 

Do not miss out on the exquisite beaches as well. The city has Pasir Putih Beach with pristine white sand and crystal clear sea water. The beach is also popular with its unique crescent shape.  Another favorite beach the city has to offer is Amban Beach with beautiful black sand. Meanwhile, Doreri Bay is available for any history fans as you can see a jaw-dropping view of aircraft and ship remains from the World War II time there. 

Also, Arfak Mountains that have never ceased to amaze any visitors with a list of great attractions. The area offers beautiful mountains covered with luxuriant tropical rainforest that is the home to various unique species such as riflebirds, kingfishers, cuscus possums, and many more. This wonderful sanctuary is perfect for those who fancy camping, wildlife watching, and hiking. All the aforementioned landmarks are not far away from the city’s airport, Rendani Airport. 

Another Great Potential of the City

Aside from amazing natural resources, tourism, historical values, and rich cultural products mentioned above, Manokwari has another great potential to offer: geothermal resources. To be exact, this natural resource comes from Demini Village in Momiwaren District, South Manokwari Regency, West Papua. Not only is it a great potential for hot bath facilities but also an alternative way to support the electricity system in the region. 

The government has done many efforts to improve the life quality of the Papuan people in their land. In the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism, and Creative Economy (ICBE) held on 7-10 October 2018 in Manokwari City, the Provincial Government officials have declared their commitment to keep managing both natural resources and ecosystems of West Papua in an efficient way. Hopefully, the commitment will always be realized in continuity.

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