Despite its challenges and notoriety, Jakarta still offers many a good life and progress.
On 22 June 1527, Fatahillah, a warrior from the Islamic Sultanate of Demak, Central Java, attacked the Hindu Kingdom of Sunda, West Java, captured the port of Sunda Kelapa and changed its name to Jayakarta.
In 1619, the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) occupied the port and changed its name to Batavia.
In 1942, the Japanese military forces invaded Indonesia and changed the name of Batavia to its local name Jakarta.
On 17 August 1945, Indonesia declared its independence, and the Republic of Indonesia was established with Jakarta as capital city. Since then Jakarta has developed into the biggest city in Indonesia, and one of largest in the world, with a population of around 8.5 million people (2008) living in an area of around 640 square kilometres.
As a capital city, Jakarta is the centre of political, business, financial, economic, social, educational and other activities in Indonesia.
Jakarta celebrated its 483rd birthday on June 22. The founding date, June 22, 1527, marks the victory of the Muslim leader Sunan Gunungjati, over the kingdom of Sunda Kelapa and its Portuguese allies.
Photo credit: Rachel Mantiri
Like other big cities in the world, Jakarta faces a lots of challenges such as the development of an efficient public transportation, worsening traffic jams, increasing floods, rampant poverty and slum areas, the over-development of shopping malls, and a lack of public parks, to name a few.
The government of Jakarta has made efforts to improve transportation system by building the busway mass transportation, and is planing to build other mass transportation system such as Monorail and Underground Train, as well as additional toll roads and non-toll roads. However, considering the rapid growth of personal vehicles, traffic jams get worse every day. In order to handle the flood problem, an anti-flood canal has been built on the eastern part of Jakarta and the existing waterways have been cleaned out in an attempt to mitigate the impact of flooding.
To control air pollution, motor vehicles are now required to go through regular emission checks, and places for smoking cigarettes have been limited. Finally, to provide better housing, low cost high-rise apartments are now being built in various parts of the city.
I find Jakarta similar to my favorite fruit – the Durian, which has sharp thorns, a thick shell, and smells okay to some but not so good to others.
Despite these efforts, Jakarta still has a lot of problems, with regards to garbage disposal, unemployement, rampant crime, a lack of fresh water, beggars and poverty, slum areas, a shortage of electricity, corruption, etc.
Regardless, Jakarta still has much more to give to its citizens and visitors, such as good and relatively safe residential areas, good hospitals, educational institutions, and places for eating any kind of food from all over Indonesia and the rest of the world, indoor and outdoor entertainment and sporting areas, shopping ameneties, etc.
With all the above in mind I find Jakarta similar to my favorite fruit – the Durian, which has sharp thorns, a thick shell, and smells okay to some but not so good to others, and tasting a lot better than any other fruit on the planet! Hence, I would not trade it with any other fruit! Happy 483rd Birthday Jakarta, I hope that the Big Durian city will become much safer, cleaner, lovelier and a lot much better place for people to live in the future.
This post was originally published on Multibrand in June 2010.