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(from Malay papuwa, “the curly-haired”), the name for the greater part of the indigenous population of the island of New Guinea, the islands of northwestern Melanesia, the northern part of Halmahera Island, and the eastern part of Timor Island. The Papuans number more than 3 million (1972 estimate).

Anthropologically, the Papuans belong to the Melanesian race. They speak Papuan languages. The main elements of their religious beliefs are ancestor worship, magic, and totemism. Christianity was introduced in the late 19th century by missionaries, and today the majority of Papuans are formally Christians. The primitive clan system prevailed until recently, and it still prevails in some regions of New Guinea and the islands of northwestern Melanesia.

The economy of the Papuans is based on slash-and-burn farming of tuberous plants, cultivation of palms and fruit trees, hog raising, fishing, and some hunting. Some of the Papuans work on plantations and in enterprises of the mining industry. The Papuan’s life is almost entirely centered around his clan, each clan consisting of several kin groups. There was no private ownership of land before the European colonization, and property and social differentiation had only begun to take shape. The Russian explorer N. N. Miklukho-Maklai made a great contribution to the ethnographic study of the Papuans.


Miklukho-Maklai, N. N. Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–54.
Puchkov, P. I. Formirovanie naseleniia Melanezii. Moscow, 1968.
Butinov, N. A. Papuasy Novoi Gvinei. Moscow, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
If sovereignty is a question of performances delivered to different audiences, then a degree of sovereignty or indeed freedom that was adequate for Indonesians may be partial and incomplete from the perspective of Papuans.
NUSA DUA, Indonesia - Three Papuan activists entered the grounds of the Australian consulate in Indonesia's Bali early Sunday to underline their call for leaders of the 21-member APEC to urge Jakarta to release Papuan political prisoners.
Amid crackdown by security agencies, including naval, police and intelligence authorities, local West Papuans celebrated the arrival of the sacred water and fire marking the symbolic reunion of the indigenous people.
A fundamental concern about the quality of education, acknowledged in the policy document is the high rate of illiteracy among indigenous Papuans and population in rural and remote areas.
The project will contribute to the second phase of the UNDP People Centred Development Project- Output 2 Improved community welfare, in particular of indigenous Papuans through the functioning of local Government and civil society basic systems and processes for sustainable livelihood development in Papua regions .
Indigenous Papuans live amidst extreme poverty, the highest in Indonesia, and the continual push of large-scale resource extraction projects further undermines their land rights and contributes to deterioration of their cultural worlds, along with their health and economic well being.
Everything suggests that there is going to be more trouble in Papua unless the government can produce a policy that will have an immediate and visible impact on how ordinary Papuans are treated," says Cillian Nolan, Crisis Group's South East Asia Senior Analyst.
Special autonomy isn t working because Jakarta has failed to win the hearts of Papuans," said Socratez Sofyan Yoman, a Baptist minister and pro-independence activist.
And this has hurt many Papuans,"al Jazeera's Vaessen said.
Giay told Survival International that by renewing ties with Kopassus, 'The US is supporting the policy to oppress the Papuans, to wipe us out.
Throughout his tenure, Murray emphasised 'protection' of Papuans and sought peaceful exploration and penetration of the interior.
They fully deserved their 16-12 interval lead, and it could have got even worse for England had the Papuans not had a 47th-minute try disallowed.