Welcome To Jakarta, Welcome To The Metropolitan City

Jakarta, Capital City of the Republic of Indonesia is a dynamic, modern metropolitan city, home to over 10 million inhabitants which swells to 12 million each working day as commuters from surrounding regions throng into the city. Facing hundreds of tiny islands named the Thousand Islands, which act as a buffer as well as maritime playground, Jakarta has as its hinterland the lush and cool mountainous region of West Java.

Jakarta as the Capital City of the Republic of Indonesia.
Jakarta as the Capital City of the Republic of Indonesia (Source : indonesiaexpat.biz)

Located on the western side along the north coast of the large island of Java, Jakarta is the seat of the National Government of the Republic of Indonesia. But Jakarta is also a province in its own right having its own Governor who leads 5 municipalities and one District, being the Central, North, West, South and East Jakarta Municipalities and the District of the Thousand Islands. Additionally, Jakarta is also the center of this sprawling country’s economy, business, finance, and trade, as well as the hub of international and national air transportation networks and IT. Therefore, it is small wonder that here are located all government offices, banks, and headquarters of major businesses.

The Presidential Palace (Istana Merdeka)
The Presidential Palace or Istana Merdeka (Source : en.wikipedia.org)

To serve the needs of this burgeoning population and large variety of visitors, the city boasts some of the top names in luxury hotels, from The Jakarta Marriott, the Ritz-Carlton, the Fairmont, the Grand Hyatt, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, the Shangri-La, just to name a few. Jakarta also counts no less than 100 fully air-conditioned malls located in all neighbourhoods across this vast metropolis, so that no one can complain of lack of shopping opportunities. And with Malls of course come Restaurants that offer sumptuous meals from Fine Dining to whole floors with a choice from an array of cuisines from around the world and across the Indonesian islands.

Back in the 13th century, Jakarta was already a busy trading port when it was called Sunda Kelapa, the main harbor of the Hindu Sunda Padjadjaran Kingdom where ships from China, India, Arabia and from across the Indonesian islands came to trade in spices, rice, tea, camphor and other precious produce in exchange for ceramics, silks and more exotic goods.

On 22 June 1527 Prince Fatahillah from neighboring Islamic Kingdom of Banten attacked and conquered the port, razed it to the ground, rebuilt it, renaming the town to : Jayakarta. This is the date that marks the birth of the city of Jakarta.

Meanwhile, Europeans in search of valuable spices “discovered” the archipelago beginning with the Portuguese, the British and the Dutch. On 30 May 1619, Governor General of the Dutch East India Company, the VOC, attacked the city and torched it to the ground. On its ruins he built the city naming it : Batavia to the Dutch ancestors, the Batavieren. The colonization of Indonesia by the Netherlands began here from Batavia as it became the center of government from where the VOC gradually conquered, then colonized the Indonesian archipelago.

Jakarta, The Old Town
Jakarta, The Old Town (Source : indonesia-holidays.com)

Today, this oldest part of the city known as Kota Tua, or Old Batavia, is designated Jakarta’s Heritage Site and is vying to be recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The once municipal building, called de Stadhuis has been carefully preserved as are many 17th century buildings surrounding the plaza. The Stadhuis has become the Museum for the history of Jakarta, and is called Museum Fatahillah, while majority of the original old buildings surrounding the Fatahillah plaza have been carefully restored and turned into museums.

Meanwhile, revolt against Dutch colonization ensued in many parts of Indonesia. In 1928 – also here in Jakarta – Indonesian youths from all parts of the islands with a wide diversity of backgrounds in ethnicity, traditions and religion, gathered and swore to build a new, modern and independent nation. Known as the National Youth Pledge, these young intellectual leaders were committed to build Indonesia on one united homeland: Indonesia; living as one united nation; and speaking one common national language: Bahasa Indonesia. This became the clarion call that galvanized the nation to fight for the people’s Independence.

On 17 August 1945, at the end of World War II, the Indonesian people under leadership of Soekarno and Hatta declared the Independence of Indonesia here in Jakarta after three centuries of being shackled under colonial Dutch rule. Nevertheless, since the Dutch were adamant to retain their precious colony, a war for independence could not be avoided, which was supported by the entire population. Finally, official recognition by the Netherlands came only at the end of 1949.

Since then, the city became the Capital of the Republic of Indonesia and the name Batavia was shed and changed to : Jakarta. (Credit to : Jakarta City Government Tourism & Culture Office)

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