Jakarta, also Djakarta, formerly Batavia, capital and largest city of the Republic of Indonesia, centrally located within the country on the northwest coast of Java Island at the mouth of the Liwung River. Batavia, as the city was called by the Dutch, was the capital of the Netherlands Indies for most of the 17th through early 20th centuries. Jakarta dominates Indonesia’s administrative, economic, and cultural activities, and is a major commercial and transportation hub within Asia. The climate is hot and humid year-round. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, although it is heaviest from November to May. The average annual precipitation in Jakarta is 1,790 mm (71 in). The city lies on a flat, low alluvial plain and is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. There is little seasonal variation in temperature; the average high in January is 29° C (84° F and in July 30° C (86° F).
In 1966 the government declared Jakarta a special metropolitan district with a status and administration similar to that of a province. For these purposes it is called Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta Raya, often shortened to DKI Jakarta. It has a total area of 661 sq km (255 sq mi). Since the early 1970s the urban sprawl of Jakarta has grown into the adjacent province of West Java. For development and planning purposes, this large urban area is known as Jabotabek, an acronym for Jakarta and its West Java satellite towns of Bogor, Tangerang, and Bekasi.
Jakarta is aligned along a north-south orientation from the old harbor of Sunda Kelapa and the original site of European settlement on the north, to the city’s southern suburbs. Kota, the city’s oldest commercial area, is located south of Sunda Kelapa. Just south of Kota is Glodok, a banking, retail, and residential neighborhood with a large ethnic Chinese population.
Merdeka Square, with Monas, or Monumen Nasional (National Monument) at its center, dominates the city’s central district. Surrounding the square are the presidential palace, the National Museum, and the Istiqlal Mosque. Just south of Merdeka Square, along the connected arteries of Jalan Thamrin and Jendral Sudirman, are major hotels, financial institutions, and the headquarters of domestic and multinational corporations.
Jakarta, the capital and largest city of Indonesia, lies on the northwestern coast of the island of Java. Jakarta is the country’s leading economic center and seaport. The city also boasts numerous cultural attractions, such as museums and sporting events. While most of the buildings in the Upper City (pictured) are modern, in the rest of the city single-story structures made of wood and sometimes bamboo mats are the most common dwellings.
This main corridor continues south to connect with Kebayoran Baru, a residential suburb and important shopping area built after 1945. Other residential areas are the Grogol, Taman Sari, and Senen neighborhoods near the central area of the city. The southern suburbs of Cikini, Menteng, and Gondangdia developed as exclusive Dutch residential areas; they are now fashionable neighborhoods for wealthy Indonesians and foreigners.
Housing is one of Jakarta’s most serious problems. The quality of the buildings varies widely; more than half the structures are temporary or only semipermanent. The most common types are single-story structures made from wood and, occasionally, bamboo mats. Also common are single-family detached or semidetached houses made from brick, cement, and wood, with tile roofs. The government has made some effort to construct low-cost housing. Luxury houses in limited-access neighborhoods, such as Kemang, are increasingly common on the southern fringes of the city.
Electricity supply has expanded to meet the city’s needs and most houses have electricity for lighting. However, water supply and sewage disposal are still inadequate. Less than half the households use piped water for drinking. Fewer still use piped water for bathing and washing. Only a small part of Jakarta is served by piped sewers and many homes lack septic tanks.
Jakarta developed as a center of trade under the Europeans and it continues to play an important role in international and domestic commerce. The metropolitan region is Indonesia’s largest economic center; it attracts most of Indonesia’s domestic and foreign investment and, as the administrative capital, government expenditures are also significant. A major positive development is the strong growth of tourism and Jakarta’s role as a gateway to other areas of Indonesia.
Manufacturing is notable, and products include textiles, footwear, apparel, foods, chemicals, plastics, and metal products. Near Jakarta’s port is an export processing zone, an industrial area where manufacturers may produce goods for export without incurring Indonesian taxes. In addition, a large industrial area developed by the government with the help of a World Bank loan is located at Pulo Gadung, south of the port area.
Jakarta’s need for renewal and modern facilities has fueled an ongoing construction boom since the early 1970s. Demand for office blocks, hotels, and housing attracts private funds. Public funds are used to address the city’s electricity and water resources, among other needs. Real estate, financial services such as banking and insurance, and business services such as advertising employ relatively few people but produce high income.
The number of private automobiles, used mainly by people with middle and upper incomes, has increased faster than any other form of transportation in Jakarta and this has created a demand for the expansion of roads and parking. Traffic congestion is a serious problem despite costly efforts to create new and improved roads. Traffic control measures, such as restricted lanes for high-occupancy vehicles, have helped somewhat. The majority of people must rely on public transportation. Although the fleet is old and breakdowns are frequent, buses are the most common form of mass transit. In addition, a variety of smaller vehicles, including the motorized three-wheeled bajaj, are important. To ease congestion, the government banned the use of becaks (three-wheeled pedicabs). However, they are still widely used in the city’s neighborhoods as an inexpensive and accessible mode of transportation. The modernization and expansion of Jakarta’s urban rail system has been an important planning issue since the 1970s; a major upgrading of the electrical rail network is now in progress.
In response to increased tourism and business traffic, Sukarno-Hatta International Airport opened in 1985 at Cengkareng, west of the city center. Port facilities are located just north of the city center at Tanjung Priok, one of the chief ports in Indonesia.
Jakarta’s telephone system has improved greatly, but the number of houses with phones is still relatively low and a waiting list exists for connection. The city’s newspapers are mostly published and read by middle- and upper-class residents. Kompas and Berita Harian, published in Bahasa Indonesia, Indonesia’s official language, are among the major daily newspapers available in Jakarta. The Jakarta Post is the major English language daily. Radio communication is dominated by Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI), but radio broadcast stations are numerous. Jakarta also receives several television channels, including one government-operated and -controlled station (TVRI).
At the 1990 census, DKI Jakarta had a population of 8,259,266. The 1997 population was 9,341,400. These figures do not include seasonal residents who may number more than 1 million. Population growth is high: In 1986 the Jabotabek region had an estimated population of 14.6 million; the projected population for 2000 is 25 million. Reducing the rate of Jakarta’s population growth is a national priority. In the 1970s efforts failed to control growth by prohibiting the entry of unemployed migrants. The current strategy emphasizes family planning, dispersing the population throughout the greater Jabotabek region, and promoting transmigration (the voluntary movement of families to Indonesia’s less populated islands).
Jakarta is a magnet for migrants from other areas of Indonesia; during the late 1980s an estimated 250 migrants arrived daily. Most were between the ages of 15 and 39 years, many with six years of education or less. There is also a significant number of commuters and seasonal migrants who work in government, manufacturing, and services. In addition, many of these temporary residents are engaged in informal employment as drivers, vendors, street sweepers, or in other similar occupations.
The population of Jakarta includes people of many ethnic groups. Sundanese from West Java and Javanese dominate, but Sumatrans, Minangkabau, Balinese and others are well represented. There is also a significant Chinese population that is usually divided into two groups: Peranakans, who are Indonesian-born Chinese with some Indonesian ancestry; and Totoks, who have only Chinese ancestry and are usually foreign born. Most people in Jakarta are Muslims. However, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a variety of Christian faiths are also represented.
Jakarta has more than 100 private and public institutions of higher learning, including the University of Indonesia, founded in 1950, the nation’s oldest university. Despite the large number of institutions, there are more students than these schools can accommodate. There is also an insufficient number of vocational institutions to meet the demand for training.
Jakarta’s cultural institutions showcase a variety of Indonesian art, including textiles, batik cloth (cloth that is dyed by a technique using wax), wayang orang (traditional theater with human actors), and wayang kulit (traditional puppet theater), painting, and Javanese and Balinese gamelan (drum-and-gong ensemble) music. See Indonesian Music; Indonesian Dance.
Important museums include the Jakarta History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Museum.
Notable landmarks include the former Dutch city hall (Stadhuis), which now houses the Jakarta History Museum; Istana Merdeka, the presidential palace; and Istiqlal Mosque, with space for more than 10,000 worshipers.
Among the city’s parks, Medan Merdeka is the most well known. The park features the Monas (Monumen Nasional, or National Monument), a pinnacle towering nearly 140 m (nearly 460 ft).
The Jabotabek region offers many recreational opportunities. Kebun Raya, a world-renowned botanical garden located in Bogor, was laid out during the 19th century. The Ragunan Zoo is located south of the center of Jakarta.
Taman Mini Indonesia, located southeast of the city, is a large cultural theme park depicting the arts, customs, and lifestyle of each of Indonesia’s 27 provinces and districts. Sporting facilities include the Senayan Sports Complex. The Ancol complex on Jakarta Bay includes an oceanarium and Southeast Asia’s largest amusement park. A variety of open-air markets are located throughout the city.
Jakarta’s origin can be traced to a Hindu settlement on Jakarta Bay as early as the 5th century ad. By the 12th century, Sunda Kelapa served as a port for the Hindu Pajajaran Kingdom in the interior of Java. A Hindu king granted Portuguese traders permission to build a fort at Sunda Kelapa in the early 16th century, but in 1527 Fatillah, a Muslim leader from the north, conquered Sunda Kelapa and renamed the settlement Jayakarta.
Dutch traders captured the city in 1619 and renamed it Batavia, which became the capital of the Netherlands Indies. They rebuilt the settlement to resemble a Dutch city with canals. Activities centered around a walled fortress and the warehouses of the Dutch East India Company. The humid climate and the fort’s location on a low-lying swampy area contributed to a high incidence of disease. In the early 1800s the city expanded as the Dutch began moving to the south, where the ground was higher and less prone to breed diseases.
The British captured Java in 1811 and ruled the island until 1816, when it was returned to Dutch control. Between 1920 and 1940, the city expanded further and gradually became modernized. Japan took possession of the city in 1942 during World War II and renamed it Jakarta. Following the Japanese defeat in 1945, the Dutch again took control, despite the demands of Indonesian nationalists who declared independence on August 17, 1945. The Dutch remained in Jakarta until 1949 when they formally transferred sovereignty to the new Republic of Indonesia.
During the Sukarno presidency (1945-1968), many buildings and monuments were added to the city’s skyline. The country’s second president, Suharto, restructured the government and energized the economy. As a result, Jakarta became the recipient of considerable investment.
In the mid-1970s Jakarta’s physical and economic planners began addressing the needs of the Jabotabek region. The plans aimed to restrict growth along the coast, consolidate urban expansion into alternative growth centers, and provide better accessibility to employment and services. Planners have achieved considerable success in expanding the availability of urban services and the Kampung Improvement Program has had a dramatic effect in improving the most depressed neighborhoods of the city.