Papua is a land of contrasts, with some of the most impenetrable jungles in the world and snowcapped mountain peaks towering over glacial lakes. Papua is Indonesia’s largest and eastern most province and covers the western half of the world’s second largest island.
It is a land of exceptional natural grandeur; with beautiful scenic beaches, immense stretches of marshlands, cool grassy meadows and powerful rivers carving gorges through dense forests. The most heavily populated and cultivated parts of the island are the Paniai Lakes district and the Baliem Valley to the east.
The provincial capital of Jayapura is situated on hills which overlook the sea, and is accessible by boat and plane. It was here that General Mac Arthur assembled his fleet for the invasion of the Philippines during the Second World War.
Small airstrips are used to travel the inland area (Twin Otter and Cessna).
Sea transportation: every regency capital situated at the coastal area owns a port, which can be visited by cruises: Ms. Dorolonda, sails from Surabaya, Makassar, Kupang, Ambon, Fak Fak, Sorong, Manokwari, Nabire, Serui, Biak and Jayapura. Ms. Labobar sails from Batam, Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Makassar, Sorong, Manokwari, Biak, Serui and Jayapura.
European traders looking for spices began arriving in the early 16th century, and have left historical footprints in the area with names such as Bougainville, Cape d’Urville and the Torres Straits.
It was the Dutch who made the most lasting impact on the island, when in 1828 they formally made Papua a Dutch Territory until 1962.
Sea food being one of the specialties here makes it a heaven for visitors who love fish and sea food dishes. Freshly baked or grilled fish taste wonderful especially when consumed while watching the sunset. People allergic to sea food need not worry because you can also consume traditional food like papeda or ayam lalapan (fried chicken with chili).
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The people of the island can be divided into more than 250 sub-groups, including the Marindanim, Yah’ray, Asmat, Mandobo, Dani and Afyat. Those in the central highlands still maintain their customs and traditions, virtually untouched by outside influences.
The different tribes have lived, for the most part, in isolation from even one another, resulting in an incredibly diverse mixture of cultures. The coastal regions of Papua, however, were visited as early as the 7th century by traders from Sriwijaya kingdom.
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