Irian Jaya, also called West Papua or West New Guinea, is the western part of the island of New Guinea with a population of around 3.3 million. West Papua, located north of Australia, borders Papua New Guinea in the east at exactly 141 degrees of longitude, Lake Arafura in the south and the Pacific in the north. In contrast to its neighboring country, it does not form its own state, but is politically part of Indonesia, but has its own capital, Jayapura. Both live together in New Guinea on the second largest island in the world after Greenland. In seismically active Western New Guinea, the main language spoken is Indonesian and the Indonesian rupiah is used as a means of payment.

The largest cities in West Papua include Sorong, Manokwari, Jayapura, Timika, Wamena, Fakfak, Enarotali, Nabire, Tembagapura, Kuala Kencana, Teminabuan, Biak and Tanahmerah.

Papua is home to the last natural, partially impenetrable tropical rainforest on the Asian continent as well as the world's largest mangrove swamps. The highest peak in Western New Guinea and at the same time the highest mountain in Oceania is Puncak Jaya at 4,884 meters high.

West Papua is considered to be the region with the most diverse plant life on earth. The different vegetation zones include tropical rainforest, swamp forest, grassland, mangroves, mountain rainforest, savannah, lowland rainforest and various coastal landscapes. Irian Jaya also has one of the richest coral reefs in the world in the Coral Triangle.

Hundreds of uncountable groups of indigenous people still live in New Guinea today as hunters and gatherers. Almost 78% of all residents live on the poverty line. There is a high child mortality rate and, due to HIV, malaria and tuberculosis, life expectancy is only 44 years on average. Almost three quarters of the population profess Christianity.

West Papua is home to the world's largest gold mine and a huge low-cost copper mine. In addition, the country has enormous oil and nickel deposits, while the incredible natural gas reserves make Indonesia the largest producing country in the world.

Tourism in Irian Jaya is very popular with mountain hikers, scuba divers, mountaineers, bird and animal watchers as well as real adventure tourists visiting cannibals and undiscovered tribes.

In May 2018 I traveled to West Papua for two days. Coming from the Moluccas, I flew to northwestern Sorong. However, I had to forgo any adventures during my stay due to various requirements and the difficult security situation. Therefore, I stayed exclusively in the city of Sorong and the surrounding area.

Immediately after arriving, you noticed that the people of Western New Guinea are much darker than the typical Indonesians. There is also higher poverty than on other Indonesian islands. However, the city impresses with several Christian cathedrals and several large, sometimes very colorful and beautiful mosques. Sorong has a brand new airport and a large industrial port for timber exports. The foothills and the smell of the tropical rainforest can even be felt directly in the city.

During the day I took a taxi for a tour of the city lasting several hours for just $20. Despite the poverty in the city, it is still rich in beautiful scenery and impressive religious buildings.

When I departed for the island of Sulawesi, I was very surprised at how many white foreign tourists and business people were with me on the Garuda Indonesia plane.