Catholics come from various islands: Bali, Flores, Java, Kalimantan, Maluku, Papua (New Guinea), Sulawesi and Sumatra. Most of the people speak Bahasa Indonesia, the national language.
Jesuit Father P.C. le Cocq d'Armandville brought the Catholic faith to the Mimika coast in 1894, but evangelization in the area could not continue as the Dutch colonial government in Batavia prohibited Catholic mission work in northern Papua.
Franciscan missionaries arrived almost half a century later, in early 1937, and two years later they started evangelization work in Keerom, southern Papua. Their mission areas also included the Mimika coast and Wisel Lake, where Sacred Heart missioners, with the help of teachers from the Kei islands, had started evangelization work.
In 1949, all the Franciscan mission areas were detached from the Apostolic Vicariate of New Guinea (Langgur). In 1950, the Apostolic Prefecture of Hollandia (Jayapura) was established for northern Papua, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Merauke for the area from Mimika south.
In 1966, three years after Indonesia took over governance of the territory from the Dutch. the apostolic vicariates of Jayapura and Manokwari-Sorong were elevated to dioceses, while Merauke was made an archdiocese.
Land, sea and air transportation are available, and even remote areas can be reached by small aircraft. On March 23, 1959, Catholic Church formed Associated Mission Aviation (AMA), aimed at supporting the local government's development program for people living in remote areas. AMA now has seven aircraft.
Jayapura diocese covers an area of 115,349 square kilometers comprising seven districts (Jayapura, Keerom, Jayawijaya, Yahukimo, Tolikara, Pegunungan Bintang, Sarmi) and one municipality (Jayapura).
Every district town has a post office and a telecommunications tower using a satellite system. District towns are also connected via telephone networks.
In 2004, the percentage of students completing the various school levels was up compared to statistics from 2001:
- Elementary school graduates increased to 86.97 percent from 84.15 percent
- Junior high school graduates increased to 45.43 percent from 39.76 percent
- Senior high school graduates increased to 25.72 percent from 21.67 percent