The Raja Ampat Islands, situated near the Northwest coast of Papua, consists of about 1,500 islands, including several large, mountainous islands, the largest being Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. The land and surrounding sea occupy approximately 46,000 km2 or about 4.6 million ha. The islands are located in a region on the western boarder of the equatorial Pacific Ocean and at the Northeastern ‘entrance’ of the Indonesian Throughflow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. The vast majority of the archipelago rests on the Sahul shelf. The wide distribution of small islands across the shelf edge creates a strong gradient from clear water, open oceanic conditions to sheltered and turbid bays, surrounded by krast limestone formations.
Raja Ampat was declared as a new regency or district on 8 May 2003 and consists of 10 sub-districts with a total of 85 villages spread out in over approximately 6% of the islands in the regency. The census in 2001 showed that total population in Raja Ampat was 47,771 with an average increase rate of 0.32% (Pemda Raja Ampat, 2002).