Thinking Citizen Blog — The Indonesian Anomaly (Part II) — Sulawesi, Western New Guinea (Papua), the Moluccas (Maluku)

Thinking Citizen Blog — Tuesday is Economics, Finance, and Business Day

Today’s Topic: The Indonesian Anomaly (Part II) — Sulawesi, Western New Guinea (Papua), the Moluccas (Maluku)

Have you ever decided to learn a bit more about a part of the world that you knew precious little about? Have you ever discovered something worth sharing and delighted in doing so? Well, that’s my business now. What do you know about Sulawesi? the Moluccas? the Indonesian half of New Guinea? Let’s fill the void together. Part One of this series was on the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

SULAWESI — three bays, three peninsulas, looks like a dragon (sort of)

1. This island wins the award for weirdest shape, don’t you think?

2. East of Borneo, west of the Maluku Islands (formerly known as the Spice Islands) and New Guinea, south of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines (separated by the Celebes Sea).

3. With a population of 21 million it is the third most populous island in Indonesia after Java (151 million), and Sumatra (50 million). The capital and largest city is Makassar (pop. 1.4 milion)

NB: Points of comparison: Java has a population comparable to Russia. Sumatra to that of Spain. Sulawesi to that of Taiwan. Think about that! The gross regional product per capita of Sulawesi is about $4,100 compared to $19,000 of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia on the island of Java. The former is comparable to that of El Salvador. The latter to that of Latvia.

PAPUA (WESTERN NEW GUINEA) — part of the subregion of Oceania called Melanesia, that includes Fiji and New Caledonia, which is to the south of Micronesia (that includes the Marshalls and the Solomons) and to the west of Polynesia (a huge triangle that goes from New Zealand in the south to Hawaii in the north, and Easter Island to the East).

1. New Guinea is separated from Australia by only 94 miles!!!!! This is the shallow, hazardous Torres Strait whose maze of reefs and islands have challenged navigators for centuries and where in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Days Under the Sea, the Nautilus submarine was “briefly stranded.” The Coral Sea is to the East and the Gulf of Capentaria to the West.

2. The population is only roughly 5 million, the majority are native Papuans, and the predominant religion is Christianity, unlike most of Indonesia which is overwhelmingly Muslim. The population includes some “uncontacted people.” There are an estimated 312 different tribes. “The culture of inter-tribal warfare and animosity between the neighboring tribes has long been present in the Highlands.”

3. A separatist movement has claimed that the Indonesian government has waged “a genocidal campaign against indigenous inhabitants.” (see ninth link below)

NB: The gross regional product per capita is roughly comparable to that of Sulawesi — about $4100.

THE MOLUCCAS — formerly the Spice Islands — the Banda Islands are at the center of the archipelago

1.“Until the mid-19th century the Banda Islands were the world’s only source of the spices nutmeg and mace, produced from the nutmeg tree.”

2. “Though originally Melanesian many island populations, especially in the Banda Islands, were massacred in the seventeenth century during the Dutch-Portuguese War, also known as the Spice War.”

3. “Between 1999 and 2002, conflict between Muslims and Christians killed thousands and displaced half a million people.”

NB: The lingua franca of the islands are variations of Malay — Ternate (in the north) and Ambonese (in the south). North Maluku is 75% Muslim and has a population of 1.2 million. South Maluku is roughly half Christian, half Muslim with a population of 1.8 million. Gross regional product of the Malukus is $1800 per capita.

Sulawesi — Wikipedia

Greater Sunda Islands — Wikipedia

Maluku Islands — Wikipedia

New Guinea — Wikipedia

Economy of Sulawesi — Wikipedia

Western New Guinea — Wikipedia

Melanesia — Wikipedia

Papua conflict — Wikipedia

List of Indonesian provinces by GRP per capita — Wikipedia

Micronesia — Wikipedia


#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20

Here is a link to the last four years of posts organized by theme: (including the book on foreign policy)

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN — Please share:

a.) the coolest thing you learned this week related to business, economics, finance.

b.) the coolest thing you learned in your life related to business, economics, finance.

c.) anything at all related to business, economics, finance.

d.) anything at all



Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.