The Asmat people live in a region of brackish swamps along the south coast of Irian jaya (Papua).


On the 10th of October 1904, the ss. Flaminggo discovered an unknown bay during an exploratory voyage along the south coast of New Guinea. This bay, which lies in the Asmat region, was originally called Oostbaai and later Flaminggobaai. Soon after she dropped anchor in the bay, the ship was surrounded by a large number of dugout canoes in which in which the people living around the bay come out to see the first foreigners they had ever encountered.

Both party were extremely nervous but, with the help of the sign language, empty bottles and knives were soon being exchanged for paddles, arrows, spears, and shield made of wood. However, the men on the Flaminggo felt increasingly threatened by the behavior of the Asmat men and they decided to forego exploration and return to the Mimika region.


This region, which is covered with tropical rain forest, is about 200 kilometers long and stretches about 100 kilometers inland. It’s also intersected by many rivers. The annual rain fall never amounts to less then 5.000 millimeters, and in the estuaries the daily tidal range is between 4 and 5 meters.

Travel in this region is only possible by boat and often involves long distances across the Arafuru sea. The population of about 40.000 people is distributed over about 118 isolated villages, and five languages are spoken in the region. The daily diet consists of Sago and Fish.

Contact with outer world is maintained by small coaster from Timika and Merauke or sometimes by charter Mission small air craft, which is call by Cessna plane fly to small air strip in Ewer village (Asmat region )which built since 1962.

there are 4 administrative offices, eleven Missionary post (eight Catholic and three protestant) and a number of three and six year village school. Except for a limited export of hardwood lumber, the country has no resources permitting economic development.


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