Papua (Indonesian province)

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Papua is the largest province of Indonesia. It comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea. In 2003, the Indonesian government declared the westernmost part of the island, around Bird's Head Peninsula, a separate province; its name was first West Irian Jaya and now West Papua. In November 2004, an Indonesian court agreed that the split violated Papua's autonomy laws. However, the court ruled that because the new province had already been created, it should remain separate from Papua. The ruling also prohibited the creation of another proposed province, Central Irian Jaya, as that division had not yet been formalised.



Within Indonesia and West Papua itself, 'Papua' usually refers to the entire western half of New Guinea - West Papua - despite its official division into separate provinces. What is referred to as 'Papua' in Indonesia is generally referred to as 'West Papua' internationally - especially among networks of international solidarity with the West Papuan independence movement.

"Papua" is the official Indonesian and internationally recognised name for the province. During the Dutch colonial era the region was known as part of "Dutch New Guinea" or "Netherlands New Guinea". Since its annexation in 1969, it became known as "West Irian" or "Irian Barat" until 1973, and thereafter renamed "Irian Jaya" (roughly translated, "Glorious Irian") by the Suharto administration.[2][3] This was the official name until "Papua" was adopted in 2002. Today, natives of this province prefer to call themselves Papuans rather than Irianese. This may be due to etymology (variously identified as a real etymology or a folk etymology) of the name Irian which stems from the acronym Ikut Republik Indonesia, Anti Nederland (join/follow the Republic of Indonesia, rejecting the Netherlands).[citation needed]

The name "West Papua" was adopted in 1961 by the New Guinea Council until the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) transferred administration to the Republic of Indonesia in 1963. "West Papua" has since been used by Papuans as a self-identifying term, especially by those demanding self-determination, and usually refers to the whole of the Indonesian portion of New Guinea. The other Indonesian province that shares New Guinea, West Irian Jaya, has been officially renamed as "West Papua".

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