Bounded to the north by the Java Sea and the south by the low Bogor Hills, Indonesia’s overwhelming capital, JAKARTA, has long been the focus of the country’s changing political face, most dramatically with the student-led demonstrations against Suharto in 1998. Indonesia’s most populous city, it has grown from a mere 900,000 inhabitants in 1945, to well over thirteen million (and over twenty million if you take into account the greater urban region known as Jabotabek).
The capital sprawls over 661 square kilometres of northern Java. Unfortunately, few foreign visitors find the city as alluring as the local population do. However, the suburb of Kota in the north, the former heart of the old Dutch city, still retains a number of beautiful historic buildings, as does the neighbouring port of Sunda Kelapa. The capital also has some of the country’s finest museums, including the Maritime Museum, the Wayang Museum and the National Museum.
Jakarta boasts what many believe to be, one of the best sights in south-east Asia; Sunda Kelapa, the old Dutch port, is brimming with magnificent Makassar schooners and is a must for any visitor, as is the nearby Pasar Ikan, the colourful early-morning fish market.
Today, having undergone dramatic growth over the last few decades, the city’s skyline is dominated by skyscrapers while vast shopping malls and recreation centres abound.
An interesting representation of Indonesia is on display at the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, an extensive park in which all the country’s islands are realistically reproduced in miniature, around a lake; pavilions represent the twenty-seven provinces.