Jakarta, the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia, is a special territory enjoying the status of a province, consisting of Greater Jakarta, covering an area of 637.44 square km. Located on the northern coast of West Java, it is the center of government, commerce and industry and as such has an extensive communications network with the rest of the country and the outside world. As Indonesia's main gateway, the 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 as an ever- 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 who 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 Jakartan called "Orang Betawi" speaks Betawi Malay, spoken as well in the surrounding towns such as Bekasi and Tangerang. This language has two variations: the conventional Betawi Malay and the modern Jakarta Malay. While the first is spoken by the elder people, born and bred in Jakarta, the second is 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. The 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.
One of the most interesting tourist attractions is the "Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park" popularly called "Taman Mini". Built to portray the variety of cultures found within the many islands contained in the Republic of Indonesia, this open-air museum comprises the many architectural forms of arts and traditions of all 27 provinces. It is proof of the country's motto of Unity in Diversity as well as Freedom of Religion depicted in the houses of worship built on the grounds.
Jakarta has preserved its past and is developing for the future. Skyscrapers in the center of the city are part of a new look.
Modern luxury hotels today cater to the discriminating visitors. Transport within the city is plentiful. It should be noted that museums are open daily from 8.00 a.m. (except Mondays) till 2.00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. On Fridays closing hour is 11.00 a.m. and on Saturdays at 1.00 p.m.