History of Jakarta: From Humble Beginnings to a Bustling Metropolis!

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‘Jakarta’ meaning ‘Victorious City’ is one of the most famous cities in the world is the current capital of Indonesia. The city has always been important in the history of Indonesia and it has been blessed its own great story of rising. The city has witnessed every dramatic moment of trading and settlements of different countries on its swampy plains.The port brought wealth to Indonesia through trading and the entire archipelago has been flourished.

Birth of the City:

Today’s Jakarta, earlier ‘Batavia’ is the land on the bank of river Ciliwung. The prehistoric evidence of human habitation was found in Jakarta. Historians believe that the prominent settlements at the mouth of Ciliwung River were seen from the 12th century.

The Port 

Some part near present-day Bogor was ruled by the Hindu-Buddhist Pajajaran Kingdom whose capital was Pakuwan. The Pajajaran kingdom established the port called Sunda Kelapa. Sunda Kelapa became the trading center where trading became an integral part of the economy. The influence of various countries and their cultures can be seen in Jakarta. The religious influence of Hinduism, Buddhism from India, China while Islam from Arabia, added to the beautiful history of Jakarta.

The Portuguese, in 1522 laid the foundation of colonies along with trading. A few years later, the city was renamed as ‘Jayakarata’ by the Muslim saint and leader Sunan Gunungjati and it became the and ruled by Banten Sultanate. The beginning of the 17th century faced the conflict of Dutch and English for the power in the city. The ‘Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie’ was besieged by the Jayakartans in late 1618. But the city witnessed the destruction around May 1619 under the command of ‘Jan Pietersoon Coen’.

The city was protected by strong shoreline fortress and was named as ‘Batavia’, which became the capital of the Dutch East Indies. ‘Batavia’ is a tribe in some parts of the Netherlands in Roman times. Batavia was soon developed into a prosperous city with tall houses and services by Dutch. Trade of coffee and sugar became one of the important sources of money which helped the economy to grow. The name of the city ‘Batavia’ was restored to ‘Jakarta’ as soon as the Dutch colonial rule brought to an end in 1942.

17 August 1945, a golden day in the history of Indonesia when it was declared as an independent country. Sukarno and Hatta were the leaders who contributed to the golden moment.  But the Dutch were not among silent viewers; they returned to set the colonial rule again but were not succeeded. However, the conflict resulted in bloodsheds. The peace agreements were preferred by the authorities and Indonesia saved its independence. Istana Merdeka palace became the royal witness of the Indonesian flag on 27 December 1948.

Capital of Indonesia 

Efforts to improve the conditions of the city were done around the 1950s by Sukarno. Various schemes to balance the economical conditions of citizens were announced. Jl Thamrin was built during this time. The booming economy helped to clear the slums and improve the conditions. The prominent changes were seen when Suharto took power in 1965. But the economic collapse of 1997 changed citizen’s perception about him. The first presidential elections were held in 2004. The voting was done in the favor of centrist Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). He got the same opportunity after 5 years with more than 60% of the votes. Jakarta grew in its architectural, economic and commercial fields.

In 2014, Joko Widodo, the governor Jakarta won the elections for the post of president. His work for people made Jakarta an important center of Indonesia for welfare. Since then, Jakarta became a great platform for various opportunities. Like every growing city, Jakarta faces problems such as water pollution and traffic. The new upscale malls and projects are being addressed to the betterment of the city.

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