Raja Ampat

There were only 35 populated islands out of total 610 in the Raja Ampat archipelago in 2007. It was a new established regency. The new capital city of Waisai (in Waigeo Island) had just been developed and was not yet dubbed as “metropolitan”. It was Saonek instead, a small island that could be reached in five minutes by boat from Waisai, and was by the time a busy fishing and trading island—inhabited by people who came mostly from Ternate, Halmahera, Buton, and Makassar. Outside Saonek and Waisai, Raja Ampat was still an archipelago where the natives—Biak, Maya, Ondoloren ethnics—lived in harmony with the nature. They were subsistence. And their ability to reach some degree of welfare was another challenge for conservationists who were trying to protect the islands’ marine biodiversity.