West Irian

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Related to West Irian: Irian Barat


, province, Indonesia

Papua (păpˈo͞oə, –yo͞oə) or Irian Jaya (ĭrˈēän jīˈyə), province (2014 est pop. 3,486,000), 123,180 sq mi (319,036 sq km), Indonesia. Comprising most of the western half of New Guinea and a number of offshore islands, it is Indonesia's largest province; the extreme western peninsulas and offshore islands are now separated as the province of West Papua (see below). The capital is Jayapura (formerly Hollandia). A rugged, densely forested region, it has snow-capped mountains rising to over 16,500 ft (5,029 m; highest in the nation) at Jaya Peak. Papua, once inhabited chiefly by Papuans living in hundreds of tribes, each with its own language and customs, has seen increasing numbers of Malay settlers from other areas in Indonesia. This immigration to Papua and West Papua, which has been encouraged by the national government, has contributed to discontent among indigenous Papuans and helped fuel resistance to Indonesian rule, as has economic development of mineral resources that has contributed little to reducing poverty in rural areas. The tropical coastal lowlands are swampy and cut by many rivers, including the Digul and the Mamberano, Indonesia's largest.

Subsistence farming is carried on (some of the highland tribes terrace and cultivate mountains with slopes of 45°); taro, bananas, sugarcane, and sweet potatoes are the principal crops. Wild game is trapped, and there is fishing along the coast and the rivers. The Grasberg Mine, in central Papua, is the world's largest gold deposit and also contains valuable copper and silver deposits. Magnetite has been found in the Sterren (Star) Mts. near the Papua New Guinea border, a region unexplored until 1959.

West Papua (2014 est. pop. 877,400), 54,199 sq mi (140,376 sq km), comprises the Doberai (Bird's Head) and Bomberai peninsulas, the western portion of the neck connecting them to mainland New Guinea, and offshore islands. Doberai is separated from the rest of mainlain West Papua by Bintuni Bay, at the eastern end of which is a narrow isthmus. The capital is Manokwari, a port on the northeast coast; Sorong, a port on the northwest coast, is the largest city. The population, geography, and climate are largely similar to those of Papua. There is nickel and cobalt on Waigeo Island.

The Dutch first visited the west coast of the island in 1606. They extended their rule along the coastal areas in the 18th cent., and in 1828 claimed possession of the coast west of the 141st meridian and in 1848 of the north coast W of Humboldt Bay. The Dutch claim to the western half of the island was recognized by Great Britain and Germany in treaties of 1885 and 1895. In World War II the northern coastal areas and offshore islands were occupied (1942) by the Japanese but retaken (1944) by the Allies, after which Hollandia became a staging base for operations in the Philippines.

Following Indonesian independence (1949), the Dutch retained control of what was then called Netherlands (or Dutch) New Guinea. Years of dispute over the territory culminated in a declaration of independence in 1961 by native Papuans, which was not recognized by Indonesia, and the landing (early 1962) of Indonesian guerrillas and paratroopers there. The conflict between the Dutch and Indonesia ended in late 1962 when the Netherlands agreed to UN administration of territory and, after May 1, 1963, transfer of it to Indonesian control pending a plebiscite (to be held under UN supervision before 1970). In Aug., 1969, several hundred tribal leaders, voting as representatives of their people, chose to remain under Indonesian rule, and Indonesia then formally annexed the territory. The province, which had been known as Irian Barat (West Irian) was officially renamed Irian Jaya in 1973.

Many Papuans objected to the annexation; resistance to Indonesian rule, which began in 1962, has persisted, leading to sporadic conflicts and repressive army control. In June, 2000, a congress of Papuan activists declared Irian Jaya independent as West Papua, an action that was rejected by the Indonesian government, which subsequently responded with a military crackdown on independence supporters. The area, however, was subsequently granted (2001) limited autonomy. In 2002 the provincial government adopted the name Papua for the province.

A national government proposal in 2003 to split Papua into three provinces sparked new unrest there, and the Indonesia constitutional court annulled (2004) the law that divided the province. However, the court nonetheless accepted the establishment of West Irian Jaya prov., which had already been created on Papua's western peninsula. West Irian Jaya prov. was renamed West Papua prov. in 2007.

Since late 2018, there has been increased fighting between government forces and Papuan separatists. In 2019 a racial incident involving Papuan students in Surabaya, Java, sparked several weeks of recurring protests by Papuans, which spread from West Papua to other provinces. In 2020, Benny Wenda, a rebel leader living abroad, declared himself head of a West Papuan government-in-exile, but not all separatists supported him.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

West Irian


the western part of the island of New Guinea; administratively, a province of Indonesia (since 1972, IrianJaya). Area, 412,800 sq km; population, 918,000 (1969). Its administrative center is the city of Jayapura (previously Sukarnapura).

In ancient times and during the Middle Ages various Indonesian states maintained ties with the coastal tribes of West Irian. In the 17th century West Irian entered into the sphere of influence of the Tidore Sultanate. In 1828, Dutch colonizers seized southwestern West Irian, and after 1848 the northern part. In 1905 the sultan of Tidore yielded all rights to the Netherlands, and it became part of the so-called Dutch East Indies.

After the declaration of independence by Indonesia in 1945, the Netherlands, in accordance with the agreement of 1949, formally recognized the sovereignty of Indonesia over all the territory of the former Dutch East Indies, but it maintained control of West Irian and attempted to include it within its administrative structure. Negotiations held from 1950 to 1952 on transferring West Irian to Indonesia were broken off by the Netherlands. Nor did discussion of the problem at sessions of the UN General Assembly (1954-57) have any results. The widespread movement that developed in Indonesia for the liberation of West Irian and support of this movement by world public opinion forced the Dutch government to sign an agreement on Aug. 15, 1962, transferring West Irian to Indonesia. This transfer was implemented in 1963. In accordance with this agreement the question was finally decided by a referendum conducted in West Irian in 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Iraq called for consistency (why criticize the UN over West Irian and not over the Palestinian issue?).
"In the end the fate of several hundred thousand coastal West Papuans is unimportant compared with the friendship of a Government representing 115 million people," the journalist Peter Hastings commented in 1968, thereby summarizing the Australian government's approach to West Irian at the time.
Indonesian resentment of the Tunku's ambitions to play an active role in managing regional order, however, would reach its apogee over his attempt to mediate the West Irian issue.
Basing bombers in West Irian expanded the potential arc of attack to the northeast, where there was virtually no surveillance and early warning facilities.
First, at least in the case of Indonesia (and notwithstanding the particular roots of conflict in Aceh, West Irian, Maluku, and elsewhere) is the high degree to which those conflicts are linked to, and exacerbated by, Indonesia's chronic ongoing national crisis.
For detailed accounts of the story of the West Papuans' struggles see, for example, Nonie Sharp, The Rule of the Sword: the Story of West Irian, Kibble, 1977 and Carmel Budiardjo and Liem Soei Liong, West Papua: The Obliteration of a People, Tapol, 1983.
The next mission Pakistan participated had been West Irian in 1962.
Jac Hoogerbrugge, issued with a UN passport to hide his Dutch military past, proved to be the ideal candidate to run the United Nations' Fund for the Development of West Irian (FUNDWI) Asmat Handicraft Project.
In WDN 3, there are 14 provinces including East Kalimantan to have a share of 853,078 KL, South Kalimantan 929,558 KL, Central Kalimantan 590,409 KL, West Kalimantan 911,829 KL, North Sulawesi 561,535 KL, Gorontalo 159,024 KL, Central Sulawesi 443,917 KL, South Sulawesi 1,09 million KL, Southeast Sulawesi 345,236 KL, West Sulawesi 129,996 KL, Papua 338,29 KL, West Irian Jaya 178,511 KL, Maluku 288,896 KL and North Maluku 165,925 KL.
The plan to divide Papua into five provinces came up less than three months after the Constitutional Court annulled a controversial 1999 law dividing Papua into three provinces -- Papua, West Irian Jaya and Central Irian Jaya.
This was accompanied, despite strong Australian assertions to the contrary, by an accusation of an Australian indifference to, at best, and active encouragement of, at worst, further Indonesian dissolution with independence for West Irian, Aceh and possibly other parts of the Republic as well.
Robert Kennedy had gone as far as to broker deals with the Indonesians over West Irian.

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