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This page is about the island in Papua, Indonesia. For the language spoken there, see Biak language.


Biak Islands
Biak is a small island located in Cenderawasih Baymarker near the northern coast of Papuamarker, an Indonesianmarker province, and is just northwest of New Guineamarker. Biak is the largest island in its small archipelago, and has many atolls, reefs, and corals.

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.

Biak is part of the Biak Islandsmarker (Kepulauan Biak).

History

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 Airfieldmarker and later transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force.

It was transferred from Dutch rule, along with half of New Guinea, in the 1960s.

Biak Massacre

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.

At 5:30am on July 6, 1998 the demonstration was fired upon by the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI or Indonesian Military). Many were cut down attempting to flee. Survivors were rounded up and forced to the docks where they were kept for the several days while further demonstrators were caught.

About 200 of the original demonstrators were forcibly loaded onto two Indonesian naval vessels and taken to two different locations to be thrown into the ocean. In the following days, bodies washed up on Biak's shores, or were snarled in fishing nets. The TNI explained that the bodies turning up belonged to victims of the Aitape tsunami which occurred approximately 1000km away in Papua New Guineamarker.

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Demographics

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. Other languages such as Dutch and English are also used, but limited.

Transport

Biak is serviced by Frans Kaisiepo Airportmarker, which has flights from all over Indonesia.

Space satellite launch services will begin to be offered in 2011 at the new Biak Spaceport. The equatorial location offers particularly efficient launches to equatorial and near-equatorial orbits.

Tradition

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). All of these ceremonies are accompanied by singing, dancing and offering to ancestral spirits.

Yosim Pancar Dance

The Biak Numfor have a friendship dance called "Yosim Pancar". It's small to mid-size dance group formations which could last all-night long. Several "Yosim Pancar" moves that are popular till this day are: Pancar Gas, Gale-Gale, Jef, Pacul Tiga, Seka, and Poco-poco adaptation.

The rhythm and song of Yosim Pancar dance are now being modernized with special effect sounds and pop dance beat. Originally the rhythm is to summon ancestal spirits and let them join the group. The traditional musical instrument of this dance is a selfmade stringbass from coconut tree and roots which is similar to the guitar or ukulele.

Flora and fauna

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.

One endemic species to Biak and Supiori islands is the Blue-eyed Spotted Cuscus.

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