Papua province is the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia, comprising most of Western New Guinea. It is bordered by the state of Papua New Guinea to the east, the province of West Papua to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the north, and the Arafura Sea to the south. According to the 2010 census by Statistics Indonesia, Papua had a population of 2,833,381.
The province was formerly called Irian Jaya and comprised the entire Western New Guinea until the inauguration of the province of West Papua (then West Irian Jaya) in 2001. In 2002, Papua adopted its current name and was granted a special autonomous status by the Indonesian legislation. Puncak Jaya is the province’s highest mountain as well as the highest point of Indonesia.
Since 1998, the province of Papua has been divided into two (Papua and West Papua) and the number of kabupaten expanded from 9 to 34 as well as the two municipalities of Jayapura and Sorong. This reflects a policy of division (pemekaran) in Papua which has been widely accepted by majority stakeholders, especially local politicians in the region.
Quoted from Encyclopedia Britannica:
In 1999 then president of Indonesia B.J. Habibie divided the area into three provinces: Irian Jaya, Central Irian Jaya, and West Irian Jaya. Largely perceived as a “divide-and-rule” maneuver, the partition met with strong local opposition and consequently was annulled the following year by Habibie’s successor, Abdurrahman Wahid. Wahid not only returned the region to the status of a single province but also granted it a significant degree of autonomy.
In January 2002, just a few months after Megawati Sukarnoputri assumed the presidency, Irian Jaya officially changed its name to Papua. Meanwhile, Megawati resurrected the idea of dividing the province, and in 2003, without consulting the residents of Papua or the local government, the province was split into West Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Barat) and Papua. An interim governor was appointed for West Irian Jaya, and a legislature was installed the following year. Although the constitutionality of the division of the province was disputed for some years, Papua and West Irian Jaya were officially recognized as separate entities by Megawati’s successor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Both provinces held direct general elections in 2006, and in 2007 West Irian Jaya became known as West Papua.