Jakarta Fast Facts, “Bit Of History”


Jakarta’s recorded history dates from about 400 AD when it was a Hindu port settlement called Sunda Pura (Holy Town), under the ancient Indianized kingdom of Tarumanagara. By 700 AD it had become part of the vast Hindu Sunda Kingdom. In the 12th century, the area was known as Sunda Kelapa and served as Java’s main harbor for Asian and Middle Eastern traders. The Portuguese arrived in 1512 and a decade later reached a trading deal with the Sunda Kingdom to provide military assistance against the threat of Islamic Javanese. On June 22, 1527, Muslim leader Fatahillah conquered the area and renamed it Djaja Karta, signifying his “glorious victory” over the Portuguese colonists and the Sundanese Hindus – most of whom were massacred. June 22 is now celebrated as Jakarta’s anniversary.

Sunda Kelapa Port which later named Jayakarta
Sunda Kelapa Port which later named Jayakarta (Source : nusantaranews.co)


The Dutch seized power in 1619 by destroying Djaja Karta, which was rebuilt and renamed Batavia, becoming the centre of political and economic activity. The city grew, with neighborhoods of Chinese, Indian Muslims and ethnic groups from throughout the archipelago. In 1699, much of Batavia was devastated by an earthquake. In 1740, simmering Chinese resentment against discriminatory Dutch policies prompted a rebellion. The Dutch responded by massacring most of the approximately 11,000 Chinese residents. This ethnic cleansing of the city’s mercantile class caused a recession, overcome only when more Chinese came to make money. By the early 1800s, the so-called “Queen of the East” had become polluted, overcrowded and disease-ridden, prompting its administrators and many wealthier residents to move south.

In March 1942, the Dutch surrendered to the Japanese wartime occupation forces and the city was renamed Jakarta Tokubetsu Shi (Special Municipality of Jakarta). When Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in August 1945, Jakarta was to have become the new nation’s capital. But the Dutch occupied the city and refused to recognize Indonesian independence, so the capital was temporarily Yogyakarta, until the Dutch formally transferred sovereignty in December 1949 after four years of fighting. The departure of the Dutch led to massive rural migration into Jakarta, which was seen as the center of economic opportunities. Founding president Sukarno ordered the construction of numerous statues and monuments, as well as hotels and other prestigious projects. The city’s slums spread as the nation shuddered toward near economic collapse in the early 1960s. After Sukarno was replaced by General Suharto in 1966, Jakarta had a new governor, Ali Sadikin, who in 11 years cleaned up much of the city, bulldozing slums, banning pedicabs, and improving public services and infrastructure. His projects were partly funded by legalized gambling – a policy later overturned by Islamic politicians.

In May 1998, Jakarta suffered three days of riots that left over 1,000 people dead and forced Suharto from power. The city was beset by a recession but has since rebounded with massive development and economic growth. Jakarta’s biggest challenges include traffic congestion, pollution and annual flooding.


View of the Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral that face each other.
View of the Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral that face each other (Source : brilio.net)

As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is a melting pot of various cultures, customs, foods, architecture and influences from throughout the archipelago and abroad.

Jakarta’s indigenous residents are termed Orang Betawi (people of Batavia). They are mostly descendants of the various Southeast Asian ethnic groups that were brought or enticed to Batavia in past centuries to meet demand for labor. They include people whose ancestors came from different parts of Indonesia. New migrants are continuing to arrive from other provinces, displacing some Betawi families to outer suburbs. Betawi language and culture differ from those of the Javanese and Sundanese. The language is based on eastern Malay and incorporates words from Chinese, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Sundanese and Javanese. This has also developed into a street slang.

The Chinese have been present in Jakarta for centuries and traditionally live in old urban areas such as Glodok, Grogol, Pluit and Pasar Baru. There are also Chinese communities in Kedoya and other newer suburbs, such as the reclaimed Pantai Indah Kapuk. Elements of their culture and cuisine have been assimilated into Betawi culture, as can be seen in fireworks, wedding attire, noodles and cakes. Lion dances, often incorrectly referred to as dragon dances, are a common sight over Chinese New Year.

One of the most colorful manifestations of Betawi culture is ondel-ondel – giant puppets, which were traditionally performed to protect against disasters and evil spirits. These days, they are seen during festivals or wandering the streets as buskers.

Jakarta has many performing art centers, including Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Cikini, Gedung Kesenian Jakarta near Pasar Baru, Balai Sarbini next to Plaza Semanggi, Wayang Bharata near Senen bus terminal, Theater Tanah Airku at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Bentara Budaya Jakarta in Palmerah and Pasar Seni in Ancol. Traditional music and puppet shows, involving gamelan and wayang performances are often held at 5-star hotels.

Most of the city’s museums are located in Central Jakarta, especially around Merdeka Square and the Old City (Kota Tua). Foreign art and culture centers include China’s Confucius Institute, the Netherlands’ Erasmus Huis, the British Council, the French Cultural Center and the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre.

Jakarta’s anniversary is celebrated with shopping sales and performances of Betawi culture. The Jakarta Fair is held at the city’s fairgrounds, although it may be relocated to the National Monument (Monas) Square.

Ondel-ondel, a traditional big doll from Betawi's culture in Jakarta.
Ondel-ondel, a traditional big doll from Betawi’s culture in Jakarta (Source : mediaindonesia.com)

Jakarta has 8,796 mosques, comprising 3,148 large mosques and 5,648 musallahs (small mosques or prayer halls). Most of the city’s residents follow Islam (85.36%), followed by Protestantism (7.54%), Catholicism (3.15%), Buddhism (3.13%), Hinduism (0.21%) and Confucianism (0.06%). Concern over high-decibel noise from houses of worship has prompted the Indonesian Mosques Council to propose restrictions on the use of speakers.


The currency unit of Jakarta is the Indonesian Rupiah (Rp/IDR). Banknotes are issued in denominations of 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; 50,000 and 100,000. There are coins in denominations of 100; 200; 500 and 1,000. The Central Bank has announced plans to re-denominate the rupiah in 2014 by removing three zeroes. The exchange rate, which is approximately Rp 10,000 to the US dollar, would become Rp 10 to the dollar if the plan is approved by the House of Representatives.

Most ATM and credit card transactions are conducted in rupiah. There are money changers throughout Jakarta, often offering slightly better rates than local banks, although all charge a commission, so it pays to compare rates first.


Business and financial services are the mainstays of the Jakarta economy. Other key sectors are trade, hotels and restaurants, property, transportation, communication, manufacturing and construction. Jakarta’s economy is one of the fastest growing across metropolitan Asia, despite problems of corruption, traffic congestion and poor infrastructure. The capital is revamping infrastructure, with an expansion of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, new flyovers and work due to begin on a long-promised Mass Rapid Transport system.

The city is shifting from an industrial base to a services base. Remaining industries include textiles (in Tanah Abang), electronics (in Glodok), chemicals and mechanical engineering.Jakarta’s minimum wage for 2017 of Rp3.3 million (US$246) is the highest in the country, so some manufacturers are relocating to other provinces in Java. In 2012, per capita annual income of Jakarta residents averaged Rp110.46 million (US$11,171). More than 20% of residents are classified as upper middle class, with an average income of Rp240.62 million per year. Jakarta’s luxury property market has been booming from low base prices. Property prices grew 38.1% in 2012 and Jakarta is forecast to become Asia’s topreal estate market in 2013. There are concerns that an increase in fuel prices will spark higher inflation followed by higher interest rates, making mortgages more expensive. Nevertheless, strong growth is expected to continue in the development of condominiums, malls and office towers.


Located on Java’s northwest coast, Jakarta is part of an alluvial plane that was formed about 5,000 years ago by mud and sediment carried by rivers and volcanic flows toward the sea. The sediment hardened into the land that now surrounds the mouth of the Ciliwung River as it enters Jakarta Bay.

Jakarta covers 662 km2 of land and 6,977 km2 of sea. The city has an average elevation of just 7 meters above sea level. Up to 40% of the city is on or below sea level, especially in the northern area, whereas the southern areas are hillier. Several rivers flow from the Puncak highlands in West Java into southern Jakarta and then northwards across the city toward the Java Sea. A total of 19 rivers and canals, all of them polluted, run through the city. During the wet season, they are prone to overflowing, partly due to drainage systems clogged with trash. Poorly planned development, the intrusion of seawater and excessive usage of deep-well groundwater are causing the city to sink by 15 centimeters annually.

The Dutch government is funding a study to construct a ring dike equipped with a pumping system around Jakarta Bay. It is forecast to be built by 2025. Meanwhile the city is conducting dredging and improving canal networks. Severe floods tend to hit the city every five to six years. The last of the worst were in 2013.


Officially, Jakarta is not a city but a province with special status as the capital of Indonesia. It is divided into five municipalities, also termed cities (kotamadya), and one regency (kabupaten). The municipalities comprise 44 subdistricts (kecamatan), which consist of 267 villages and urban units.

Central Jakarta (Jakarta Pusat) is Jakarta’s smallest municipality and contains most of the administrative, government and high-rise buildings. There are many Dutch colonial buildings and some parks. Landmarks include the National Monument, Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta Cathedral and museums.

West Jakarta (Jakarta Barat) contains Jakarta’s Chinatown, many small-scale industries, nightlife areas, old temples and part of the historic Kota Tua.

South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan) which in the 1960s used to be largely open land, now has upscale shopping centers and luxurious residential neighborhoods. The northern sector incorporates part of Jakarta’s CBD.

East Jakarta (Jakarta Timur) is Jakarta’s most populous territory. It has several industrial areas, as well as the Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport.

North Jakarta (Jakarta Utara) lies on the Java Sea and is known for its industries, Tanjung Priok Port, fun-parks, nightlife areas and part of Kota Tua (old city).

The Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) is Jakarta’s only regency. It was previously a subdistrict of North Jakarta. Despite the name, there are only 105 small islands. Marine tourism, fishing and sand mining are major industries. Twenty-three of the islands are privately owned, while 36 have been designated as recreation sites.


Jakarta is run by a governor, who leads the city administration, which functions as the executive body. There is also a Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD), sometimes called the Jakarta Council in English, which monitors the governor’s performance, channels public aspirations and passes local legislation. Governors and local legislators are elected by popular vote
for a 5-year term.

Each of Jakarta’s municipalities is led by a mayor, while the Thousand Islands is led by a regent. The mayors and regent are appointed by the governor for five-year terms. The five municipalities are divided into subdistricts (kecamatan), each led by a camat (subdistrict head). Further down, the subdistricts are divided into villages (desa) and urban units (kelurahan). Then there are community units (RT) and neighborhood units (RW).


The predominant language is Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. The indigenous Betawi people have their own language, which is a fusion of eastern Malay and words borrowed from other languages. There is also a vibrant and constantly developing slang, including mash-ups of Betawi, English and other words. Some of Jakarta’s oldest residents, born before Indonesian independence, still speak Dutch. Regional languages, such as Sundanese, Javanese, Batak and Minangkabau, are spoken by people who originated from those particular regions. English is spoken in major hotels and businesses. Arabic is taught in many schools, where children learn to recite the Al Qur’an. Chinese, which was banned for 30 years under the Suharto regime, is enjoying a resurgence in Chinatown areas. Many Chinese use Mandarin, while Hokkien words are used in slang, especially in reference to amounts of money.


Jakarta - Indonesia
Jakarta – Indonesia (Source : airpano.com)

Jakarta has a population of 10.18 million, which rises to over 12.5 million during weekdays when commuters enter the city for work. The city, which had only 1.2 million people in 1960, now has an annual population growth rate of about 1.5%. Authorities hope to limit the population to no more than 12.5 million by 2030. Population density is about 15,370 people per km2. The population of Greater Jakarta (including the satellite cities in the Jabodetabek region) is nearly 30 million. Economically, Jakarta is a city of stark contrasts, with millionaires’ rows of mansions in Pondok Indah and labyrinths of slums in Cilincing and other poor neighborhoods.

Ethnic Composition :

  1. Javanese (35.16%)
  2. Betawi (27.65%)
  3. Sundanese (15.27%)
  4. Chinese (5.53%)
  5. Batak (3.61%)
  6. Minang (3.18%)
  7. Malay (1.62%)
  8. Various others (7.98%)


Jakarta has a hot and humid climate. The daily temperature ranges from 24.8 °C to 32.6 °C. Despite its proximity to the equator, the city has wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from November to June, and the dry season from July to October. Heaviest rainfall occurs in January, with an average of 389 millimeters for the month. The driest month is September, with an average of 30 millimeters. The city averages 168 rainy days per year. Sudden monsoonal downpours can create flooding within minutes, causing total traffic congestion. The city is prone to floods because it has 13 rivers, insufficient open spaces to act as water sinks, and a poor drainage system. The widespread practice of throwing trash in the streets, rivers and canals exacerbates the problem. Authorities are implementing programs designed to improve soil retention of water and reduce the impact of floods.


Indonesia has three time zones. Jakarta is in the Western Indonesian Time Zone – seven hours ahead (UTC+7) of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The government in 2012 announced a plan to create a single time zone throughout Indonesia, to promote efficiency in trade, but this has been indefinitely postponed following a negative public reaction.

Electrical power in Indonesia is at 220- 230 Volts (50 Hertz). Plugs are of the standard European two-pronged variety. The state electricity company is PLN. Demand for electricity exceeds capacity so the government is developing more power plants. Jakarta experiences occasional rolling blackouts.

Kilometers or meters are used for distance measurement (metric system).


Unlike the resort island of Bali and the ancient temple city of Yogyakarta, Jakarta is not typically known as a tourist destination. Despite that, Soekarno- Hatta International Airport is Indonesia’s second-busiest gateway for foreign tourists. The airport recorded 2.05 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2012, a 6% increase from 1.93 million in 2011. Jakarta’s hotel occupancy averaged 57% in 2012.

Most of Jakarta’s foreign visitors are from: Malaysia, China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, America, Australia, the Philippines, India and Saudi Arabia. During the post-Ramadhan holiday period of Lebaran, millions of Jakarta residents return to their hometowns in the outer provinces, leaving the city slightly more peaceful and less congested for a few days.


Most major hotels add a 21% charge to bills. Of this, 10% is a mandatory government tax, while the 11% is a service charge. Larger restaurants also add the 10% government tax and a service charge of anywhere from 5% to 11%. Tipping is not mandatory in such establishments, but lower-end staff will appreciate a 10% tip, handed to them discretely, as they often don’t get a share of the service pie. Smaller restaurants and food-stalls will not charge the government tax, so a 10% tip is always appreciated by waiters. Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory but it is good policy to round the fare up to the nearest Rp7,500,-. (Credit to : Jakarta KwikFind Magz)







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