History of Jakarta Indonesia – Development and Growth

national pledge, pride, assembly, emblemsThe city of Jakarta begin as a tiny port on the Ciliwung River nearly 5 century ago. As the centuries went by, the port city grew into a renowned international trade center.

Early information on Jakarta has been discovered, through in tiny pieces, through the many stone tablets that had been buried deep in and around the port. The knowledge on Jakarta up until the coming of European expedition is so few. The Portuguese where the first group of European party to have had reached to the sea port of Kalapa.

From the memoirs of 16th century European writers, they did make mention of a city known as Kalapa. Its apparently served as the primary port of a Hindu kingdom called Sunda, which had its capital at Pajajaran, then situated approximately 40 kilometers inland. Kalapa located nearby where Bogor nowadays is.

On the other hand, the city was later seize by a man known as Fatahillah, who come from a kingdom located nearby known as Kalapa. Fatahillah then change the name of Sunda Kalapa to Jayakarta on 22 June 1527. It’s this date that is celebrated as Jakarta’s anniversary. The Dutch come by the end of the 16th Century and taken reign over Jayakarta by force.

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Batavia Era

Jayakarta was then, renamed as Batavia. Batavia’s muddy region was likened to that of the Netherlands, their motherland. They decided to develop canals in order to prevent Batavia against potential flooding during heavy rains. The city’s civic center was located at a field situated about 500 meters far away from the port.

The Dutch constructed a beautiful city hall as Batavia’s center of government administration. As time passed, the city of Batavia expands towards the south. Accelerated development created about severe environmental problem, which coerced the Dutch administration to move their governance administrations to elevated regions.

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Jakarta Era

A historical decree came to be enacted in 1928, aptly name the Youth Pledge, which propose three ideals, namely one motherland, one nation, and one language of unity: Indonesia. During Japanese occupation (1942-1945), Batavia was then renamed to Jakarta. On 17 August 1945, Ir. Soekarno proclaimed Indonesia’s independence and Indonesian flag was hoisted for the very first time. Then, Indonesia’s sovereignty was officially acknowledged by the world in 1949. In same year, Indonesia also became a member of the United Nations (UN).

Meanwhile, in 1966, Jakarta was given its official title as Special Capital of the Republic of Indonesia. It enhanced the fast rate of infrastructure growth towards government office buildings. Moreover it embassies of several countries.

Rapid infrastructure development also created the need for a master plan in order to regulate Jakarta’s economic growth. Since 1966, Jakarta has steadfastly grown into a modern metropolis. Cultural diverse wealth along with dynamic economic growth had main contributions towards Jakarta’s transformation into a known metropolis in the 21st century.

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Jakarta, history of jakartaThe name Jakarta has been used since the Japanese occupation in 1942, it is used to refer to the territory of the former Batavia government that was officiated during the Dutch East Indies reigned in 1905.

The name is considered as an abbreviation of the word Jayakarta. Its given by the Demak and Cirebon under the leadership of Fatahillah after the attack and occupying attempt at the port of Sunda Kelapa on June 22, 1527.

The name also has a well-known meaning as “city of champion” or “city of the blessing”. Although, the real meaning is “the champion by an act or effort”. Jakarta was first known as a port of Sunda kingdom called Sunda Kalapa, located at the Ciliwung River.

The capital of the Kingdom of Sunda known as Dayeuh Pakuan Padjadjaran or Pajajaran (now Bogor) can be reached from the seaport of Sunda Kalapa during a three-day trip.  According to Portuguese sources, Sunda Kalapa is once belonging to Sunda Kingdom in addition to the port of Banten, Helter, Cigede, Tamgara and Cimanuk. Sunda Kalapa that in this regard called Kalapa is considered to harbor the most important aspect of a seaport simply because people can arrived from the capital of the kingdom within three days.

Sunda kingdom itself is an extension of the Kingdom Tarumanagara of the 5th century hence the port is estimated to have been around since the 5th century and also was considered to be the capital of Tarumanagara called Sundapura.

In the 12th century, the port were known as the bustling port of pepper. Foreign ships coming from China, Japan, India South, and Middle East already docked at this port carrying goods. Such as silk, horses, linen, porcelain. As well as wine, perfumes, coffee, and dye in exchange for spices from Maluku which became a trade commodity at the time.

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1. Netherlands Era (1619-1942)

The Netherlands came to Jayakarta around the end of the 16th century, after a stopover in Banten in 1596. Jayakarta at the beginning of the 17th century was govern by The Prince of Jayakarta, that was one of the relatives of the Sultanate of Banten. Then in 1619, the VOC forces that was led by Jan Pieterszoon Coen occupied Jayakarta after beating the forces of the Sultanate of Banten and then changed its name to Batavia. During the Dutch colonization, Batavia developed into a large and important city.

For the development of the city, the Netherlands had been importing many slaves as workers. Most of them came from Bali, Sulawesi, Maluku, China, and the Malabar coast of India. Some scholars argue that they think these people are the ones who formed a community known as the Betawi ethnic group. At that time, the Batavia area only includes the area currently known as the Old City in North Jakarta.

Before the arrival of the slaves community, there are already the Sundanese people who live in areas. Sundanese people live in public called Jayakarta Jatinegara community. While the tribes that come from the other ethnic immigrants, in the days of the Dutch colonialism, also form their own regions in respective communities. Then, it led to the creation of distinct community in Jakarta towards the areas of the former communities like Chinatown, Pekojan , Kampung Melayu , Kampung Bandan, Kampung Ambon, Kampung Bali, and Manggarai .

See also : Most Beautiful Fabric in Indonesia – Poverty in Indonesia


On 9 October 1740, There were riots that erupted in Batavia with the genocide of ethnic Chinese totaling 5,000 people of Chinese. With the occurrence of these chaotic event unfolding, many ethnic Chinese to escape from the city and take their struggle against the Dutch colonialism. With the completion of the development of Koningsplein (Gambir train Station) in 1818.

Then Batavia expanded itself to the south. Then On April 1, 1905 Capital of Batavia formed two municipal. There are Gemeente Batavia and Meester Cornelis. In 1920, the Dutch built Menteng garden city, and this region turn into a new place for high-ranking Dutch officials replacing their former Molenvliet in the north. Last, in 1935, Batavia and Meester Cornelis (Jatinegara) integrated themselves into a region of Jakarta Raya.

On January 1, 1926 the Dutch government enacted a law to intended to reform the system of decentralization to wider region. In Java, was formed the autonomous administration of the province. The Province of West Java was the first province that was formed in Java which was stated by the decree dated January 1, 1926. Then, Batavia became one region residency., furthermore, to Banten West Java, Buitenzorg (Bogor), Priangan, and Cirebon.

See also: Indonesian Heroes – Indonesia Military Power

2. Japanese occupation (1942-1945)

Indonesia was occupied by Japan started in 1942 and Japanese forces changed the name of Batavia to became Djakarta.  Its purpose to attract the hearts of the population during World War II.

During Japanese occupation the city conditions went from bad to worse as Japanese forces scavenge every part of the city to find metal that are needed for the war efforts thus in turn many building was destroyed in the processed. This in turn exacerbated the people’s economy in Jakarta as every valuable things must be given to Japan to help them win the war.

To enhance Japanese grips on Indonesia, the Japanese government decided to legalize an act no. 42, 1942. Its to restore the regional administration government that divides several parts of Jakarta district into smaller area and each area was lead by a regent.

Then later, the city of Jakarta is also the venue for the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August, 1945 and was later got occupied by the Dutch after the downfall of Japanese forces and until the recognition of the sovereignty of Indonesia in 1949.

See also: Bird of Paradise – Biggest Earthquake in Indonesia

3. Jakarta after Independence

Prior to 1959, Djakarta is still part of West Java Province. Then in 1959, the City of Djakarta status got changed from a municipality under the reign of a city mayor beforehand to an elevated area of level 1 that were led by the governor. This first governor was Soemarno Sosroatmodjo, who is also an army doctor. The inauguration of Governor of DKI at the time was conducted directly by then President Sukarno. In 1961, Djakarta status got changed from the Regional Level One to became Special Capital Region (DKI) and the governor still headed by Soemarno.

Since Djakarta was declared as the state capital, then Jakarta’s population increased very rapidly due to the manpower requirement of government that almost entirely centered in Jakarta. Within 5 years the population of jakarta increased more than two times. Various community of new middle class neighborhood got evolved, like Kebayoran Baru , Cempaka Putih, Pulo Mas, Tebet, and pejompongan. Several settlement community are also being built independently by various ministries and state institutions such as Perumnas (national housing board) .

See also : Hinduism in Bali – History of Jakarta

In the reign of Soekarno, Jakarta undertaken Huge construction projects, such as the development of Gelora Bung Karno, the grand Istiqlal Mosque, and the building of National Monument. In this period the street of Merdeka-Thamrin-Sudirman was developed as a business center of the city capital replacing the street of Merdeka-Senen-Jatinegara-Salemba. The first large community center that was created by the private developer is aptly named Pondok Indah (by PT Pembangunan Jaya) in the late 1970s in South Jakarta district.

Population Growth

The rapid rate of the population growth in Jakarta back then is forcing then governor Ali Sadikin. Its for suppress it in the early 1970 by declaring that Jakarta is a “closed city” for immigrants. This policy can not efficiently be enforced and was abandoned during the next governor’s leadership. Until now, Jakarta is still wrestling with the problems that was caused by overcrowding, such as flooding, traffic congestion, and lack of adequate public transportation system.

In May 1998 , there were huge riots in Jakarta that claim many ethnic Chinese as victims. During this chaotic scene then the legislative and executive building of indonesia (MPR/DPR) was occupied by college students who want reformations. This riot is the trigger in the downfall of President Suharto from the Indonesian presidency.

See also: Endangered Animals in Indonesia – Sumatran Tigers

4. Jakarta in New Orde

Jakarta Special Capital Region (DKI Jakarta), is the city capital of the Republic of Indonesia. Then, Jakarta is the only city in Indonesia which has the equivalent status of the province . Jakarta is located on the northwest coast of the island of Java . It was once known as:

  • Sunda Kelapa (before 1527)
  • White Rose ( 1527 -1619 )
  • Batavia / Batauia, or Jaccatra (1619-1942)
  • Jakarta Tokubetsu Shi (1942-1945)
  • Djakarta (1945-1972).

Internationally Jakarta also has nicknames like J-Town or the more popular The Big Durian because it is considered comparable to cities like New York City ( Big Apple ) in Indonesia.

Jakarta has a width of ​​approximately 664.32 km², with a population of 10,385,795 inhabitants based on 2011 census. The metropolitan area of Jakarta ( Jabodetabek ) has about 28 million people, it is the largest metropolis in Southeast Asia or second in the world.

As a central hub of business office, politicals centers, and culture icon, Jakarta is a base to the many headquarter office of state-owned corporation, private companies and foreign dignitaries. It is also housed the central building of the government institutions and the office of the secretariat of ASEAN. Jakarta is served by two airports, namely Soekarno-Hatta and Halim Perdanakusuma airport, as well as three sea ports in Tanjung Priok, Sunda Kelapa, and Ancol.

See also: Biggest Stadiums in Indonesia – Most Watched Indonesian Movies

5. Jakarta in Reformation Era

As one of the world metropolitan city, Jakarta has vital supporting infrastructure such as roads, electricity, telecommunications, water, gas, fiber optics, airports, and ports. Currently the ratio of road in Jakarta reaches 6.2% of the total area width.

In addition to the protocol street, the economic street and the environment street, Jakarta is also supported by a network of Inner Ring Road, Highway jagorawi, Outer Ring Road,  and Jakarta-Serpong Toll Road. The government also plans to build the second phase of Outer Ring Road that surrounds the city of Jakarta Soekarno Hatta Airport, Tangerang-Serpong-Cinere-Cimanggis-Cibitung-Tanjung Priok.

For all the other cities in Java, Jakarta is connected with the Jakarta-Cikampek Toll Road that connected with Highway Cipularang to Bandung and cikampek-palimanan toll road to Cirebon. There are also available the train service that depart from the six stations of departure in Jakarta. To go to the island of Sumatra one can use the provided roads of Toll Road Jakarta-Merak followed by the crossing port from Merak to Bakauheni.

For the outside of the island and abroad, Jakarta has a sea port in Tanjung Priok and airports, namely:

  • Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang , Banten, which serves international and domestic flights.
  • Halim Perdanakusuma Airport which has many functions to serve official and domestic flights.

For the procurement of clean water, at this time Jakarta is served by two companies, namely PT. Aetra Air Jakarta for the area east of Ciliwung River, and PT. PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) for the area west of Ciliwung River. In 2015, the two companies are able to supply clean water to 60% of the population of Jakarta.

See also: Dayak Tribe – Gamelan Facts

Development of Jakarta in New Era

development of jakarta, jakarta in new eraJakarta is a city with rapid economic growth rates. Currently more than 70% of state money circulating in Jakarta market. The economy in Jakarta is supported by creative industries,property,  services, trade, and finance. Several trade centers in Jakarta, which became a pretty big market for money circulation were Tanah Abang and Glodok.

Both of these regions respectively are at the center of the textile trade and the goods circulation throughout Indonesia. Even for some textile goods from Tanah Abang resulting in many goods that also become an export commodity.

Economy Growth

As for the financial sector, which contributes greatly to the development of economy of Jakarta is in the capital stock market and banking industry. For the stock market, in May 2013 the Indonesia Stock Exchange recorded as the exchange that provide the greatest benefit to its shareholders, after the Tokyo Stock Exchange. And in the same month, the market capitalization of the Indonesia Stock Exchange has reached USD 510.98 billion, the second highest in ASEAN.

See also: Largest Cities in Indonesia – Best Airports in Indonesia

In 2012, the per capita income of the people of Jakarta reached a staggering 110,46 million rupiahs per year (USD 12.270). As for the upper middle class with an income of  240.62 million rupiahs per year (USD 26.735), reaching 20% of the total population. Here also settled more than half rich people in Indonesia with an income of at least USD 100,000 per year.

Then, their wealth was mainly supported by rising stock prices. As well as increase in property profits significantly. Today, Jakarta is a city with a rapid growth rate of luxury property prices that are highest in the world, reaching 38.1%. In addition to luxury residences, Jakarta property growth was also supported by the sales and rental of office space. During the period of 2009-2012, the construction of skyscrapers (over 150 meters) in Jakarta reached 90%. This has placed Jakarta as one of the cities with the fastest growth in the world’s skyscrapers index.

Moreover, in 2020, it is estimated that the number of skyscrapers in Jakarta will reach 250 units. At that time, Jakarta will already has the tallest building in Southeast Asia with a height of up to 638 meters (The Signature Tower).

See also: Deforestation in Indonesia – Luwak Coffee

Now we can understand the richness of the culture that permeated the everyday life of Jakarta’s people. and to understand the diverse citizen the lived in one the crowded region in Indonesia. Jakarta plays a central role in the development of Indonesia as a whole country and understanding the history of Jakarta is one way to understand Indonesia.

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