West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, nowdays being Indonesian territory. The eastern part of the Island is the independent country of Papua New Guinea. The Capital of West-Papua is the city of Jayapura located on the north-coast. Its approximate population in 2002 was 200,000.
New Guinea is one of the least explored places on earth (almost) matching the Amazon, and being the second largest island in the world. West Papua alone is home to over 300 tribes and languages. To this day there are tribes that live in a high degree of isolation because of the poor development of infrastructure. Because of this isolation many people living in the interior of West Papua still show a great variety of old cultural traits. However, Indonesian plans to expand industry and promote nationalism in the region, will for sure have major (cultural) impacts on West Papua in the years to come.
I lived in West-Papua from 2003-2007, studying anthropology at the University of Cenderawasih and conducting research among various tribes in the region.