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(303,381 sq mi), and the largest wholly or partly within the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania.
The eastern half of the island is the major land mass of the independent state of Papua New Guinea.
Irian is the name used in the Biak language and other languages such as Serui, Merauke and Waropen.
The name was used until 2001, when the name Papua was again used for the island and the province.
These are the island's major river systems, draining roughly northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast, respectively.
Many have broad areas of meander and result in large areas of lakes and freshwater swamps.
The Dutch, who arrived later under Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten, called it Schouten island, but later this name was used only to refer to islands off the north coast of Papua proper, the Schouten Islands or Biak Island.
The tree line is around 4,000 m (13,100 ft) elevation and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers—which have been retreating since at least 1936.
The name Irian, which was originally favored by natives, is now considered to be a name imposed by the authority of Jakarta.
New Guinea is an island to the north of Australia, but south of the equator.
Yet the two land masses share a similar animal fauna, with marsupials, including wallabies and possums, and the egg-laying monotreme, the echidna.
Other than bats and some two dozen indigenous rodent genera, there are no pre-human indigenous placental mammals.