Are you curious about this matter: what is West Papua? West Papua is a province of Indonesia established in 1999 based on the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia Number 45 of 1999. Formerly, West Papua was known as Irian West Jaya. However, the name was changed according to Government Regulation Number 24 of 2007.
West Papua Province is situated on the northwest of New Guinea Island. It occupies some areas of the Doberai Peninsula. The capital city is Manokwari Regency, yet the largest city in the province is Sorong.
The other regencies are Pegunungan Arfak, FakFak, Sorong, South Sorong, Raja Ampat, Teluk Bintuni, Teluk Wondama, Kaimana, Tambrauw, Maybrat, and South Manokwari.
What is West Papua? The 3 Facts About the Province
1. The History of West Papua
West Papua had another name, Nederlands Nieuw Guinea. As the name suggested, the Nederlands colonized the region in 1828. The Dutch also controlled the rest of Indonesia. About a hundred years later, Indonesia gained the recognition of other nations and declared its independence in 1945.
Despite Indonesia’s declaration of independence, the Nederlands still would not let go of it for the next several years. This led to many clashes between the two countries in diplomatic, economic, and military aggression. Then, the Nederlands brought this problem to the United Nations.
In 1962, the United Nations opened a forum discussing giving West Papua to which country. Both Indonesia and Nederlands did not want to give up their claim over the region.
After a heated discussion, the Nederlands agreed to pass over the reign of West Papua to Indonesia if native Papuans wanted to be a part of Indonesia.
In 1969, they held a plebiscite for the native Papuans to decide on the matter. This event was known as Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat (PEPERA) or Act of Free Choice. The result showed that 1,025 native Papuans chose to stay as a part of Indonesia.
Hence, the Netherlands handed over the control of this province after the United Nations General Assembly gave its approval on December 19, 1969.
As mentioned in the beginning, after West Papua became a part of Indonesia, the province was officially established in 1999. Yet, the inauguration of the region was held in 2003.
The region was separated from Papua Province. It is because West Papua has its own special autonomous status bestowed by the Indonesian government.
2. The Indigenous Communities
The second detail about what is West Papua is the indigenous community. According to data by Badan Pusat Statistik, this province is home to 551,000 people. The percentage of indigenous Papuans is around 65% of the total population. They consist of 14 significant ethnicities. The rest of the citizens originate from other nationalities in Indonesia.
Most people know Koteka to be the signature of West Papua’s culture. It is indeed a popular traditional clothing for male Papuans.
However, the region has other cultures, including various traditional musical instruments (Tifa, Triton, and Fuu), classic songs (Yamko Rambe Yamko, Apuse, and Sajojo), local wisdom (Satu Tungku Tiga Batu), and traditions (Bakar Batu, Body Tatoo, Ararem, and Tanam Sasi).
3. The Popular Tourist Destinations
This province has plenty of tourist destinations worth visiting. But, the most popular one is located in Raja Ampat Archipelago. The archipelago comprises four significant islands (Batanta, Salawati, Waigeo, and Misool), surrounded by over 1,500 small islands. Raja Ampat is the right place for your holiday if you love water sports.
Near the archipelago, you can visit a tourist village called Arborek Village. You can enjoy an incredible sunset, play with the children near the beach, tour the whole village, and experience snorkeling in the Arborek Jetty.
So, what is West Papua? In short, it is an Indonesian province consisting of diverse indigenous communities and cultures. The province also has various popular tourist destinations.