WHEN THE CITY’S ASLEEP
The only time of the year when Jakarta is deserted
Imagine a city with about 10 million people and more coming to either work, travel or simply live. Can we call it a gargantuan city? Maybe we can, since the sprawling city becomes even larger over time, packed with more people, vehicles, apartments, offices, and so on. The city now even “eats up” its neighboring areas, transforming into an even bigger urban town with about 30 million people. This is Jakarta, a metropolitan that is often considered to be “never asleep”. However, not many people know that there is a short time in the year when Jakarta morphs into a sleeping beauty and reveals its charm and charisma...
THE OLD DAYS
Jakarta was once a tiny trading outpost of an inland Hindu kingdom around the estuary of Ciliwung River, about 600 years ago. In early 16th AD, the Portuguese had an eye on this sleepy hamlet (named Sunda Kalapa at that time) to find a spice trade route in the Malay Archipelago. They established a stronghold there, but Fatahillah, on behalf of the Sultanate of Demak, conquered the Portuguese in Sunda Kalapa in 1527. Sunda Kalapa was then renamed to Jayakarta, but in early 17th AD, the Dutch seized the port of Jayakarta and changed its name to Batavia.
Batavia played a very important role during the Dutch colonization as it became the administrative and capital city of the Dutch East Indies for more than three centuries. The Dutch built a magnificent Stadhuis (a big spice warehouse) and canals which can still be seen now in the Old Batavia area – please refer to our ‘Capital Corner’ of the June 2016 issue, titled “Historical Buildings in the Old Area of Jakarta”.
According to Britannica in 1910, during the colonization, the population of the city ranged from 100,000-200,000 people. The number increased dramatically to 533,000 people (based on Forbes, 2004) in the first half of the 20th century. In 1949, the city was renamed to Djakarta and has ever since become the capital city of Indonesia, attracting economy-driven people from all over the country, and the world. Hence, it has an estimated population of 10 million people, making it the 10th largest city in the world.
However, many people who work in Jakarta live in the satellite cities, which are often called “the sphere”. The term “Greater Jakarta” is also commonly used to refer to these areas which include Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek). If we combine the population of Jakarta with its spheres, the population reaches a staggering figure of about 32 million people! Can you imagine? No wonder the Greater Jakarta area is among the largest urban agglomerations on the planet.
The daily traffic congestion is also proof of how big Jakarta is.