FACTOID # 13: New York has America's lowest percentage of residents who are veterans.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > West New Guinea
This article or section should be merged with Papua (Indonesian province)
Map showing West New Guinea region
Map showing West New Guinea region

The region of West New Guinea is the western half of the island of New Guinea or Papua, and has also been known as Irian Jaya or West Papua. A part of Indonesia since 1963, the region contains the provinces of West Irian Jaya and Papua, which shares its eastern border with the nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Part of primal Australia, the regions tropical waters and coral reefs surround coastal wetlands and unending rainforests raising pass the snowline to meet its glaciers and the limestone peaks.



Papuans, the native people of New Guinea are a Pacific Melanesian people as are those of the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji. Melanesians have inhabited the Australian continental islands of Papua and the Moluccas for over forty thousand years and have developed diverse cultures and languages; there are over 300 languages and two hundred additional dialects in West New Guinea alone (See Papuan languages).

It is believed the first Europeans to sight New Guinea were the Portuguese, but it was the Dutch vessel Duyfken which first recorded its travel along the southern coast of Papua in 1605. The Duyfken did not explore the coast of Papua, but sailed south into the Gulf of Carpentaria, landing in northern Australia.

In 1828 the Dutch claimed the south coast west of the 141st meridian, and in 1848 added the north coast west of Humboldt Bay. The Netherlands established trading posts in the area after Britain and Germany recognised the Dutch claims in treaties of 1885 and 1895. (At much the same time, Britain claimed south-east New Guinea later known as the Territory of Papua and Germany claimed the north-east later known as the Territory of New Guinea).

In 1923 the Nieuw Guinea Beweging (New Guinea Movement) was created in the Netherlands by ultra right wing supporters calling for Dutchmen to create a tropical Netherlands in Papua. This pre-war movement without full government support was largely unsuccessfull in its drive, but did coincide with the developement of a plan for excess Eurasians of the Dutch Indies to establish Dutch farms in northern West New Guinea. This effort also failed as most return to Java disillusioned, and by 1938 just 50 settlers remain near Hollandia and 258 in Manokwari.

In the early 1930s the need for a national Papuan government was discussed by graduates of the Dutch Protestant Missionary Teachers College in Mei Wondama, Manokwari. These graduates continued their discussions among the wider community and appear to have quickly succeeded in cultivating a desire for a national unity across the region and its three hundred languages. The College Principal Rev. Kijne had also composed Hai Tanahku Papua (Oh My Land Papua) which in 1961 would be adopted as a new national anthem.

In 1942 the northern coast of West New Guinea and the nearby islands were occupied by the Japanese Empire. Allied forces expelled the Japanese in 1944 and with Papuan approval the United States constructed a Headquarters for Gen. MacArthur at Hollandia (now Jayapura) and over twenty US bases and hospitals intended as a staging point for operations taking of the Philippines.

West New Guinean farms supplied food for the half million US troops, Papuan men went into battle to carry wounded back, acted as guides and translators, and provided a range of services from construction workers and carpenters to machine shop workers and mechanics.

The Dutch retained possession of West New Guinea from 1945; but upon reaching Java 4,000 km away in Asia were shocked to find that four years of propaganda had turn many Javanese against the Netherlands. Hatta and Sukarno had weeks before declared independence and claimed all Dutch possessions should become part of the United States of Indonesia. A dispute remain until the Round Table Conference was held from August to October 1949 at the Hague, unable to compremise upon the final matter of West New Guinea, the conference closed agreeing to discuss the West New Guinea issue within one year.

In 1952, the Netherlands recognised Papuan self-determination as a right in accordance with Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations, and began preparing the nation for independence. After repeated Indonesian claims for Dutch New Guinea, Indonesia was invited by Holland to present the claim before an International Court of Law; Indonesia declined the offer. Concerned that invasion might be a possibility, Holland accelerated its education and technical programs in preparation for independence. A naval academy was open in 1956 and Papuan troops and naval cadets begun service by 1957.

By 1959 Papuans were nurses, dental surgeons, draft-men, architects, telephone repairmen, radio and power technicians, working a range of experimental commercal crops, police, forestry and metrological staff; etc. This progress towards self governance was documented in reports prepared for the United Nations from 1950 to 1961.

see Report to UN for 1959 (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1959-report.PDF),appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1959-apx.PDF), Photo appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1959-apx-photos.PDF)
see Report to UN for 1960 (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1960-report.PDF),appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1960-apx.PDF), Photo appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1960-apx-photos.PDF)
see Report to UN for 1961 (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1961-report.PDF),appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1961-apx.PDF), Photo appendix (http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/nngg/1961-apx-photos.PDF)

Elections were held and Papuan representatives elected during 1959.

In May 1961 an elected Nieuw Guinea Raad (New Guinea Council) became the first Papuan parliament and was responsible for designing and implementing full independence by 1971. The Council decided upon new symbols, a national anthem (Hai Tanahku Papua (Oh My Land Papua)), national flag (Morning Star), and decided the country's official name would become "West Papua". The Dutch recognized the flag and anthem on 18 November 1961 (Government Gazettes of Dutch New Guinea Nos. 68 and 69), and these ordinances came into effect on December 1, 1961.

The Morning Star flag was raised on December 1, 1961, an act which Papuan independence supporters celebrate each year at flag raising ceremonies as indicative of their national unity and commitment to independence. The date for independence of Netherlands New Guinea was set for 1970.

Indonesia began an attempted invasion by paratroopers on December 18, 1961, though these troops were quickly arrested by the Papuan people. Indonesian efforts continued, including a minor naval battle on January 19, 1962. Behind the scenes, the United States forced the Netherlands to surrender West New Guinea to Indonesia in August under terms negoyiated in New York and specified in a document known as the "New York Agreement". The Australian government, which had been a firm supporter of the Papuan independence, also reversed its policy. (See US Foreign Relations, 1961-63, Vol XXIII, Southeast Asia (http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/frus/summaries/950306_FRUS_XXIII_1961-63.html) and US President letter (ftp://ftp.halcyon.com/pub/FWDP/Oceania/jfkpapua.txt))

The agreement, ratified in the UN on September 21 1962, stipulated that authority would transfer to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on October 1, and that UNTEA would hand the territory to Indonesia on May 1, 1963, until such time as a UN-conducted "Act of Free Choice" could determine the will of the people.

Since 1962 consistent reports have surfaced of programs of suppression including killings, imprisonments, and aerial bombardments. The Indonesian government disbanded the New Guinea Council, and forbade the use of the new flag or the singing of the national anthem. There has been considerable resistance to Indonesian integration and occupation, both through civil disobedience (such as Morning Star flag raising ceremonies) and via the formation of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM, or Free Papua Movement) in 1964.

In 1969 Indonesia conducted the widely criticized "Act of Free Choice". Public voting was deemed to be unnecessary and the Indonesian military selected representatives, provided them with some training in the Indonesian language, and encouraged the representatives to provide a public vote for the assembled troops and two western observers. The observers left after witnessing the first two hundred votes for integration. This procedure was deemed to have been an "Act of Free Choice" in accordance with the United Nations requirements and Indonesia formally annexed the territory in August.

In 1977 construction of the worlds largest copper and gold mine (also the worlds largest open cut mine) began. Under a Indonesian agreement signed in 1967 (two years before the "Act of Free Will") the US company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. holds a 30 year exclusive mining license for the region from the official opening of the mine (1981). Locals made several violent attempts to dissuade the mine owners, including blowing up a pipeline in July, but order was quickly restored.

The 1990s saw Indonesia accelerate its transmigration program, under which 1.2 million Javanese people into Papua over a ten year period. Nearly all of these migrants were Muslims, coming into an area that, prior to Indonesian rule, had been almost entirely populated by Roman Catholics, Protestants and people following tribal religions.

A separatist congress in 2000 again calling for independence resulted in a military crackdown on independence supporters. In 2001 a now majority Islamic population was given limited autonomy. An August 2001 US State Department travel warning advised "all travel by U.S. and other foreign government officials to Aceh, Papua and the Moluccas (provinces of North Maluku and Maluku) has been restricted by the Indonesian government".

During the Abdurrahman Wahid administration in 2000, Papua gained a Special Autonomy status, an attempted political compromise between separatists and the central government that has weak support within the Jakarta government. Despite lack of political will of politicians in Jakarta to proceed with real implementation of the Special Autonomy, which is stipulated with a law, the region has then divided into two provinces, e.g., Province of Papua and Province of Irian Jaya Barat, based on a Presidential Instruction in January 2001 soon after President Wahid been impeached by the Parliament and replaced by the Vice President, Megawati Sukarnoputri. The division of the province is neither directly canceling the Law of Special Autonomy of Papua nor listening to protest coming from throughout the region.


Indonesia structures regions by Regencies and districts within those. Though names and areas of control of these regional structures can vary over time in accord with changing political and other requirements, in 2001 the Irian Jaya (Papua) Province consisted of 12 regencies (kabupaten), 1 city (kotamadya), 117 subdistricts (kecamatan), 66 kelurahan, and 830 villages (desa).

Map showing major Papuan cities

The Regencies in 2001 were: Biak Numfor; Fak-fak; Jayapura; Jayawijaya; Manokwari; Merauke; Mimika; Paniai; Sorong; Timka; Wamena; and Yapen Waropen. See main article Indonesian Regencies of Papua for further details.

Hollandia, founded in 1910 had by 1962 developed into a city with modern civil, educational, and medical services. Since Indonesian administration these services have been replaced by Indonesian equivalents such as the TNI (military) replacing the Papuan police force. The name of the city has been changed from Hollandia, to Kotabaru then Sukarnopura and finally Jayapura.

Jayapura is the largest city, boasting a small but active tourism industry, it is a neat and pleasant city built on a slope overlooking the bay. Cendrawasih University campus houses the Jayapura Museum. Tanjung Ria beach well known to the Allies during the WW II, is a popular holiday resort now with facilities for water sports, and General Douglas MacArthur's World War II quarters are still intact.


Land Area
Area 420,540 km2
Rain fall 1800 to 3000 mm
Temperature 19-28°C
Humidity 80%

A central East-West mountain range dominates the geography of New Guinea, over 1600 km in total length. The western section is around 600 km long and 100 km across. Steep mountains 3000 to 4000 m and up to 5000 m high along the range ensures a steady supply of rain from the tropical atmosphere. The tree line is around 4000 m elevation and the tallest peaks are snowbound year round.

Both north and west of the central ranges the land remains mountainous mostly 1000 to 2000 m high covered by thick rain forest and a warm humid year round climate.

The third major habitat feature is the south east lowlands with extensive wetlands stretching for hundreds of kilometers.

The province has 40 major rivers, 12 lakes, and 40 islands. The Mamberamo river, sometimes reffered to as the "Amazon of Papua" is the province's largest river which winds through the northern part of the province. The result is a large area of lakes and rivers known as the Lakes Plains region. The famous Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people is a tableland 1600 m above sea level in the midst of the central mountain range; Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) is a mist covered limestone mountain peak 4884 m above sea level.

Tribal groupings in West New Guinea

Lani, perhaps better known as Dani.








A vital tropical rainforest with the tallest tropical trees and vast biodiversity, Papua's known forest fauna includes marsupials (including possums, wallabies, tree kangaroos, cuscus), other mammals (including the endangered long-beaked echidna), many bird species (including birds of paradise, casuarius, parrots, cockatoos), the world's longest lizards (Papua monitor) and the world's largest butterflies.

Animal Class Est. Number
Mammal 180
Marsupial 70
Bird 700
endemic bird 450
Bats 70

The island has an estimated 16,000 species of plant, 124 genera of which are endemic.

The extensive waterways and wetlands of Papua are also home to salt and freshwater crocodile, tree monitor, flying foxes, osprey, bats and other animals; while the equatorial glacier fields remain largely unexplored.

Ecological dangers include deforestation at an alarming rate; the spread of the exotic Crab-eating Macaque (monkey) which now threatens the existence of many native species; pollution such as Grasberg mine dumping 190,000 tons of copper and gold tailings into the rivers system each day;

External links

  • The Deforesting of Irian Jaya, 1994 (http://russbaker.com/The%20Nation%20-%20The%20Deforesting%20of%20Irian%20Jaya.htm)
  • Monkeys Threaten Papua's Wildlife (http://web.archive.org/web/20040318095619/http://veederandld.20m.com/primnews/10201.html) . (http://www.sidsnet.org/archives/biodiversity-newswire/2001/0055.html)
  • Wetlands Study (http://www.wetlands.or.id/irj20.htm)

Postage stamps

During the 1960s, the region had its own postage stamps. The first were overprints reading "UNTEA" (United Nations Temporary Executive Authority) applied to the stamps of Dutch New Guinea, issued in 1962. There are four slightly different types of overprint, three types applied locally, and a fourth made in the Netherlands and sold by the UN in New York City.

These were superseded on 1 May 1963 by stamps of Indonesia overprinted "IRIAN BARAT" and a series of six commemoratives whose designs included a map of Indonesia stretching "from Sabang to Merauke" and a parachutist landing in New Guinea. These, as were later issues in 1968 and 1970, were inscribed both "IRIAN BARAT" and "REPUBLIK INDONESIA". The last issue specifically for the territory consisted of two depicting birds (Black-Capped Lory and Bird of Paradise), issued 26 October 1970.

See also

External links

Countries in Oceania
Australia | East Timor | Fiji | Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Federated States of Micronesia | Nauru | New Zealand | Palau | Papua New Guinea | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu
Other political units: American Samoa | Cook Islands | Easter Island | French Polynesia | Guam | Hawaii | Maluku Islands | Midway Atoll | New Caledonia | Niue | Norfolk Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Papua (Indonesia) | Pitcairn Islands | Tokelau | Wake Island | Wallis and Futuna | West Timor

  Results from FactBites:
New Guinea - LoveToKnow 1911 (4369 words)
New Guinea was actually annexed in 1793 by two commanders in the East India Company's service, and the island of Manasvari in Geelvink Bay was held for some months by their troops.
By authority, therefore, of Queensland, the mainland of New Guinea, opposite her shores east of the 141st meridian, was annexed to that colony in 1883.
New Pomerania, New Mecklenburg, with New Hanover and the Admiralty Islands and the Solomon Islands (Bougainville and Buka).
Western New Guinea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3508 words)
Western New Guinea is the Indonesian western half of the island of New Guinea and consists of two provinces, Papua and West Irian Jaya.
The Indonesian government disbanded the New Guinea Council and forbade the use of the West Papua flag or the singing of the national anthem.
The combined population of the Indonesian provinces of West Irian Jaya and Papua, constituting all of Western New Guinea, was estimated to be 2,646,489 in 2005.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m