Irian Jaya

views updated May 14 2018

Irian Jaya (West Irian, or Irian Barat) Province of e Indonesia, comprising the w half of New Guinea and adjacent islands; the capital is Djajapura. First explored by Europeans in the 16th century, it was formally claimed by the Netherlands in 1828 and became known as Dutch New Guinea. It achieved independence in 1962, and was incorporated into Indonesia the following year. In the central part of the province, a mountain range, rising to more than 5000m (16,500ft), runs c.640km (400mi) from e to w. Much of the region n of the mountain range is covered by tropical rainforest. Irian Jaya is noted for the richness of its flora and fauna. The economy is predominantly agricultural, the chief products being copra, groundnuts, rice and timber. Copper and crude oil are exported. Area: 422,170sq km (162,900sq mi). Pop. (1999) 1,691,800.