At each break of day, Merauke is the first town in the Indonesian Archipelago that catches the first rays of the rising tropical sun. As the capital city of the Merauke Regency in the province of Papua, Merauke is renowned as the most easterly territory in Indonesia; one that marks the eastern end of this vast span of the Indonesian Archipelago that is commonly measured from the town of Sabang on Weh Island, in the Aceh Province at the west-most end, all the way to Merauke in Papua in the east.
Merauke was first established as a military post by the Dutch in February 1902. The name Merauke itself is said to originate from an anecdote when the Dutch who began to settle among the indigenous population of Marind Anim and Sohores, asked them for the name of the area. Misunderstanding the question, the locals pointed to the Maro River – the main river that passes the town – and said “Maro Ke” meaning “that is the River Maro”. Over time, “Maro Ke” evolved into Merauke and became established as the name of both the town and the regency.
Merauke was also the site of an Allied air base during World War II that witnessed battles between Australian and Japanese patrols that occurred in the area.
Covering a total area of 45, 071 square meters, the Merauke Regency is also known as one of the largest regencies in eastern Indonesia. It borders directly the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea in the east, Boven Digul and Mappi Regencies in the North, the Asmat Regency in the West, and the open Arafura Sea to its south. The regency consists of 20 districts, with the district town of Merauke being the most populated.
The town of Merauke is also known as the staging point for hikers before venturing into the pristinely enchanting Wasur National Park, which is roughly only about 60 Km away. For travelers, Merauke offers the most facilities such as banks, internet cafes, airline agents, restaurants, markets, and accommodation. A walk around the town is easy and will reveal some incredible insight into the past. Old graveyards and lots of classic churches highlight the town, while cruising down the Maro River one can observe the daily life of Papuan fishermen. A trip to the local market will be an eye opener, as you encounter various uncommon items.
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