The sub-equatorial island of New Guinea is home to the highest island mountain range in the world, the Maoke range. In its great 1100-mile length, the Maoke rises to 16,502 feet with many peaks over 13,000 feet, and few significant passes. This is a virtual wall of mountains towering over the thick jungle-covered swamplands that blanket the island. The range forms the backbone of the island, running from west coast to east coast.
The island is divided in half politically. The western half is the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya, and the eastern half is the independent Republic of Papua New Guinea. The Maoke Range knows no such division, and towers impressively throughout the island's entire length.
The Maoke Range is extensively glaciated, and is known for its sheer rock and ice cliffs. New Guinea ranks third in the world in equatorial ice, behind Ecuador and East Africa.
The highest peak of Irian Jaya is Puncak Jaya, otherwise known as Carstensz Pyramid. At 16,502 feet (5030 m), it is held by many climbers to be the "seventh" of the high points of the seven continents, representing Australia/Oceania.
The highest peak of Papua New Guinea is Mount Wilhelm (14,793 ft./4509 m).