Things You Need To Know About West Papua Indonesia

Things You Need To Know About West Papua Indonesia

The beauty of the Indonesian archipelago is not only limited to the mainland, java, or Bali. While the two islands are well known, there are also ranges of secluded and wild places with tons of charms. It includes the west Papua that known as the hidden paradise. But the location is also full of mysteries. Here are things you need to know about west Papua Indonesia.

Geographic Location

Where is it? As an archipelago country, Indonesia has more than hundreds of islands. Foreigners mostly know the mainland such as java, Sumatra, or Bali. But, not many people know where the West Papua region is. It is on the west side of New Guinea island. It was formerly named Irian Jaya Barat or Irian Barat.

As a new province in Indonesia, the location covers the western peninsulas which resemble the bird’s head peninsula. It includes all of the nearby islands with border reach up to the Pacific Ocean. Geographically, it is located in 124ᵒ – 132ᵒ east longitude and 0ᵒ-4ᵒ south altitude. It is located right under the equator. The area has a total of 102.955,15 km2 area.

The Brief History

A little bit of history lesson that you need to learn about west Papua is the Papua Barat or Irian Jaya Barat name. The expansion of center Papua changed the name three times based on the Indonesian constitution from 1999. It was named Irian jaya barat. However, it gets another change due to the Indonesian constitution 2007.

The name once again changed to West Papua. The name itself is now the main identity of this province. One of the things you need to know about west Papua Indonesia is how the name changes were filled with conflict and stories. In 2001, the name was changed from Irian Jaya to Papua with the new special autonomy constitution.

With the provincial capital Manokwari, the name itself has settled. It also stated that 4 October was the anniversary day of West Papua. The name refers to the Melayu language that has a meaning of curly hair. It refers to the physical characteristic of the locals.

The name also means Dua Tapi Satu, Satu Tapi Dua. It is the image of the New Guinea is one island with two different provinces, but still one Papua. The story of Papua and Indonesia was starting way before Independence Day. However, it starts to get attention during the reformation era under Gus Dur’s administrator.

The local habitant wants the name changes from Irian Jaya to Papua. Which was later granted in 2000. The expansion starts around 1999 that cover surrounding areas, including Puncak Jaya, Kota Sorong, Mimika, and Irian Jaya Tengah. However, it stops briefly and continued in 2002. During the Megawati president’s government, West Papua starts to develop its definitive area.


Things you need to know about west Papua Indonesia is the government. Since it was named west Papua, it has had two governors. The first governor is Abraham Ovtavianus Atutury that reigns its position for two periods (2006-2007 and 2012-2017). The province also has an acting governor and daily executor.

At the first expansion, the area was only made of three districts with one city. However, the current west Papua has cover 12 districts and one city. All goes under the Indonesian government. However, many media see the west Papua issues of independence. The unrest of independence contest and the Indonesian opposition is still raging.


The rough and wild untouched environment proven that West Papua is one of the richest areas in the southern part of Indonesia. From the economic standpoint, the location is brimming with natural resources such as gold, copper, timber, natural gas, and many more. After reaching west Papua, these resources are under Indonesian management.

However, some of the profits go back to the native people. The economic condition also explains the term of Indonesianization, which is an acculturation process to incorporate the province with the Indonesian nation-state. The progress includes expanding the education system, transmigration, media, and economic development.


Aside from the salty side of West Papua history and issues, the region is growing. In 2020, the population reach 1,13 million residents. Compared to the 2010 population census, the number only reach 373,650 thousand people. It indicates that west Papua has gained a 3,94% population increase per year under the period of 10 years.

For your information, the majority of the population is the indigenous ethnic group from Papua. Things you need to know about west Papua Indonesia is the fact that ethnic groups in this city are around 24 groups with different native languages and traditions. It is even more fascinating that the same ethnic group can also have more than one spoken language.

All of the ethnic groups are spread in 13 districts and cities. Some of the ethnic group that you can meet is Suku Arfak, Suku Doteri, Sukku Kuri. Suku Biak, etc. other than the native group, you can also find some mixed population with migrants from another part of Indonesia. It makes the region rich in tradition, ethnics, religions, and stories to tell.

Culture and religion

As a province that is far from modern touch, the culture and language aspect in West Papua is like an unpolished gem. With around 250 different tribes, West Papua is brimming with lives, culture, and indigenous traditions. In general, most of the west Papuan ethnic tribe and natives has their language as well as Melanesian culture.

Indonesian code was letter implemented as the government reach the area. At the same time, the arrival of religion (Christianity) in February 1855 has turned the west Papuan into one of the biggest Christian populations in Indonesia. However, animism is still the main practice of the more traditional, rural, and the isolated areas.

Islam came as the Netherlands colonials ruling over west Papua. During that period, the Muslim population is around one percent. However, the number is constantly increasing with the bigger expansion and open the province are not. It is also brought by immigration that proven the more prevalent position of Muslims in Papua.

Potential Tourism Sites

Things You Need To Know About West Papua Indonesia

Even though west Papua is still under clash with the Indonesian government, but the region has a rapid improvement in its prosperity. Since 2012, human development has stayed in the middle rate. It indicates that the economy, population, economy, and prosperity have steadily in green. It also tells that the region has constantly improved over time.

As the condition getting better, the tourism sector is one of the main highlights of the region. It has around 79 tourism destinations, which are made of 20 natural tourism, 32 cultural destinations, 19 agrotourism, and 8 marine tourism. One of the biggest and well-known destinations is Raja Ampat island.

From many things you need to know about west Papua Indonesia, tourism potentials are the best highlight. It shows that there are ranges of the location to visit and enjoy. The West Papua is also part young developed area. It means that the location might have a more hidden paradise with beauty beyond imagination.

Currently, west Papua is still under its progress on human development. The local and Indonesian governments are trying to get the middle line for all of the previous conflicts. However, the charm of West Papua Indonesia will never go due to its turmoil. It is filled with a range of potential tourism destinations that are worth visiting.