Saturday, July 25, 2009

Biak Island

Biak is a small island located in Cenderawasih Bay near the northern coast of Papua, an Indonesian province, and is just northwest of New Guinea. Biak is the largest island in its small archipelago. The largest population centre is at Kota Biak (Biak City) on the south coast. The rest of the island is thinly populated with small villages.
In World War II, a strategic
airfield of the Imperial Japanese Army was located there, serving as a base for operations in the Pacific theatre. American forces eventually captured the island during the Battle of Biak. On May 29, 1944, the first tank vs. tank battle in the Pacific Theatre occurred. The captured airfield was renamed Mokmer Airfield and later transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force.
On July 1, 1998 (the anniversary of the unsuccessful 1971 Papuan declaration of independence) Biak was the scene of what is commonly known as the 'Biak Massacre' or 'Bloody Biak'. Native Papuan people and members of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (
Free Papua Movement), raised their traditional flag, 'The Morning Star', at Kota Biak water tower and camped there for the next six days.
The people of Biak are predominantly Melanesians and the main religion is Christianity. The official language is
Indonesian and the main local language is Biak.

The Biak Numfor culture revolves around their ancient animist religion, although today they are Christian as well.
Their beliefs revolve around a ritual ceremony called Wor, where they will be plagued by all kinds of bad luck and sickness. The Wor is in all aspect of their life and some of their traditional ceremonies are still being held now. They include the first hair cut ceremony (Wor Kapapnik), the growing up ceremony (Wor Famarmar) and the Wedding ceremony (Wor Yakyaker Farbakbuk).

There are numerous types of flora in the island's tropical rain forest. The forest also has a variety trees and other commercially important species plus the lush vegetation of mangrove swamps. The fauna is very similar to Australian fauna such as the group of fowl like pigeon, cockatoo, "nuri" and the reptile group such as snake, turtle and medium sized lizard.

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