Jakarta is the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, a country
composed of more than 13,000 islands with a population of over
180 million. Comprising more than 300 ethnic groups speaking 200
different languages, the Indonesia population exhibits marked
diversity in its linguistic, culture, and religious traditions.
As the Capital City, Jakarta is a melting pot of representatives
from each of these ethnic groups. Jakarta is a special territory
enjoying the status of a province, consisting of Greater Jakarta,
covering of 637.44 square km area. Located on the northern coast
of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry
and has an extensive communications network with the rest of the
country and the outside world. Strategically positioned in the
archipelago, the city is also the principal gateway to the rest
of Indonesia. From the Capital City, sophisticated land, air,
and sea transport is available to the rest of the country and
Jakarta is one of Indonesia's designated tourist areas. It is
a gateway to other tourist destinations in Indonesia and is equipped
with all the means of modern transportation by air, sea, rail,
or by land. It has the largest and most modern airport in the
country, the most important harbor in Indonesia and is well connected
by rail of good roads to other destinations in Java, Sumatra,
and Bali. As Indonesia's main gateway, Soekarno-Hatta International
Airport serves a growing number of international airlines and
domestic flights. Jakarta is a city of contrasts; the traditional
and the modern, the rich and the poor, the sacral and the worldly,
often stand side by side in this bustling metropolis. Even its
population gathered from all those diverse ethnic and cultural
groups, which compose Indonesia, are constantly juxtaposed present
reminder of the national motto; Unity in Diversity.
Finding its origin in the small early 16th century harbor town
of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta's founding is thought to have taken place
on June 22, 1527, when it was re-named Jayakarta, meaning Glorious
Victory by the conquering Prince Fatahillah from neighboring Cirebon.
The Dutch East Indies Company, which captured the town and destroyed
it in 1619, changed its name into Batavia and made it the center
for the expansion of their power in the East Indies. Shortly after
the outbreak of World War II, Batavia fell into the hands of the
invading Japanese forces that changed the name of the city into
'Jakarta' as a gesture aimed at winning the sympathy of the Indonesians.
The name was retained after Indonesia achieved national independence
after the war's end.
The ethnic of Jakarta called "Orang Betawi" speaks
Betawi Malay, spoken as well in the surrounding towns such as
Bekasi and Tangerang. Their language, Betawi Malay, has two variations:
conventional Betawi Malay, spoken by elder people and bred in
Jakarta, and modern Jakarta Malay, a slang form spoken by the
younger generation and migrants.
Jakarta's architecture reflects to a large extent the influx
of outside influences, which came and has remained in this vital
seaport city. Taman Fatahillah Restoration Project, begun in the
early 1970s has restored one of the oldest sections of Jakarta
also known as Old Batavia to approximately its original state.
The Old Portuguese Church and warehouse have been rehabilitated
into living museums. The old Supreme Court building is now a museum
of fine arts, which also houses part of the excellent Chinese
porcelain collection of former Vice President Adam Malik. The
old Town Hall has become the Jakarta Museum, displaying such rare
items as Indonesia's old historical documents and Dutch period
furniture. Its tower clock was once returned to England to be
repaired under its lifetime guarantee, which up to now has already
lasted hundreds of years.