Raja Ampat is the crown jewel in the Coral Triangle and the epicentre of global marine biodiversity. It stretches over 40,000 km2, characterised by islands and lagoons, the like of which dreams are made. Raja Ampat holds the prestigious title as the highest marine biodiversity on earth. Everywhere you jump into the water in Raja Ampat, the contrast between here and elsewhere in the world is obvious after just a few minutes. The diversity of fish and coral species has overwhelmed researchers and divers worldwide. Together with breathtaking limestone formations, white sand beaches and islands, which are covered with coconut plots, Raja Ampat has also been called "the last paradise on earth". But paradise also has its problems: ocean pollution, lack of education, poor health care, and growing mass tourism all pose major challenges for this region.
Raja Ampat belongs to the Indonesian province of West Papua. Although West Papua is one of the richest areas in Indonesia, it has the highest poverty rate and one of the lowest human development index scores. Data from recent years has however shown that the government has begun to invest in education, health care and infrastructure. Many schools and hospitals have been built and the number of teachers has increased. On the streets and in the schoolyard you can see children and teenagers in their school uniforms and so you could have the impression that the education system works flawlessly. But appearance is deceptive. Teacher absenteeism, lack of well trained teachers as well as strong punishment, characterise everyday life in the schools around West Papua. It is no exception for a teacher to not attend school for several months so it is hardly possible for the students to pass the national exams in a correct way. The illiteracy rate in West Papua is over 30%. It should be noted however that the functional illiteracy rate exceeds 80%. Scholarships or gaining a place at a good school is mostly reserved for the children of rich families. Child Aid Papua has taken up this challenge and supports the people of Raja Ampat in education, environmental protection and health care.
Nature - A Global Bio-Diversity Hotspot
One of earth’s natural wonders, the Raja Ampat archipelago, with its various habitats, is home to a fascinating diversity of wildlife. Bursting with life, the vast tropical reefs form the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystem. Most of the islands are covered in pristine jungle. Due to their seclusion, many of the rainforest’s creatures have developed in a unique way.
Flora and Fauna in Raja Ampat are just remarkable!
Culture - From Tribes And Languages To Spirits And Ghosts
While Raja Ampat is famous for its fantastic nature, its fascinating culture is often completely overlooked. We think, unjustly.
Due to its colourful history of migrating and blending ethnic groups, the archipelago has developed a variety of unique tribes. Although they are similar in appearance and genetics, their languages and some of their customs are very distinctive.
Raja Ampat is a true cultural melting pot!
Geography - On The Edge Of Two Continents And Two Oceans
The archipelago spans over an area of more than 40.000 km², stretching across the equator and counting over a thousand islands. Located on the northern edge of the Australian tectonic plate, the islands also divide the Pacific from the Indian ocean.
The islands are predominantly made of limestone, which is formed by ongoing erosion, making for some of the world’s most picturesque views. The surreal landscape is simply magnificent!
History - The Captivating Story Of Raja Ampat's People
Many secrets of the archipelago's ancient history are yet to be fully unravelled, but here is what we know: While in Europe Neanderthals were still roaming the frozen wastelands of the ice age, Melanesians had already reached Raja Ampat.
Yet, we are nowhere near the end of the story. This is the tale of ever ongoing migration and an increasingly complex mix of culture.
A fascinating journey through a colourful past!