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Bandung is the capital of West Java province in Indonesia, and the country's fourth largest city. Located 768 meters above sea level, Bandung has relatively year-around cooler temperature than most other Indonesian cities. The city lies on a river basin and surrounded by volcanic mountains. This topology provides the city with a good natural defense system, which was the primary reason of Dutch East Indies government's plan to move the colony capital from Batavia to Bandung.

Introduction to Bandung
The city of flowers and volcanoes

The Dutch colonials first opened tea plantations around the mountains in the eighteenth century, followed by a road construction connecting the plantation area to the capital (180 kilometer to the northwest). The European inhabitants of the city demanded the establishment of a municipality (gemeente), which was granted in 1906 and Bandung gradually developed itself into a resort city for the plantation owners. Luxurious hotels, restaurants, cafes and European boutiques were opened of which the city was dubbed as Parijs van Java.
After Indonesian independence, the city experienced a rapid development and urbanization that has transformed Bandung from idyllic town into a dense 15,000 people/km² metropolitan area, a living space for over 2 million people. Natural resources have been exploited excessively, particularly in the conversions of protected upland area into highland villa and real estates. Although the city has encountered many problems, ranging from waste disposal, floods to chaotic traffic system, Bandung however still has its charm to attract people flocking into the city, either as weekend travelers or living in.


Bandung, the capital of West Java province, is located about 180 km southeast of Jakarta. Its elevation is 768 meters above sea level and is surrounded by up to 2,400 m high Late Tertiary and Quarternary volcanic terrain. The 400 km² flat of central Bandung plain is situated in the middle of 2,340.88 km² wide of the Bandung Basin; the basin comprises Bandung, the Cimahi satellite city, part of Bandung Regency, and part of Sumedang Regency. The basin's main river is the Citarum; one of its branches, the Cikapundung, divides Bandung from north to south before it merges with Citarum again in Karawang. The Bandung Basin is an important source of water for drinking water, irrigation and fisheries, and its 6,147 million m³ of groundwater is a major reservoir for the city.

The northern part of the city is hillier than the rest; the distinguished truncated flat-peak shape of the Tangkuban Perahu volcano (Tangkuban Perahu literally means 'up-turned boat') can be seen from the city to the north. Long-term volcanic activity has created fertile andisol soil in the north, suitable for intensive rice, fruit, tea, tobacco and coffee plantations. In the south and east, alluvial soils deposited by the Cikapundung river are mostly found.
Geological data shows that the Bandung Basin is located on an ancient volcano, known as Mount Sunda, erected up to 3,000–4,000 meters during the Pleistocene age. Two large scale eruptions took place; the first formed the basin and the other (est. 55,000 Before Present) blocked the Citarum river, turning the basin into a lake known as "the Great Lake of Bandung". The lake drained away; the reason for which is the subject of ongoing debate among geologists.

Due to its elevation, the climate in Bandung is cooler than most Indonesian cities and can be classified as humid; the average temperature is 23.6 °C throughout the year. The average annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 millimeters in the central and southeast regions to 3,500 millimeters in the north of the city. The wet season conforms with other Indonesian regions, around November to April.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Temperature (°C)
Precipitation (mm) 72.1 265.6 365.0 136.0 117.7 37.4 40.5 74.7 76.3 314.2 185.9 197.2
Evaporation (mm) 3.7 2.9 3.2 3.0 3.4 3.3 3.7 3.9 3.7 3.2 2.5 2.7
Rel. humidity (%) 75 82 82 78 75 71 67 69 71 77 80 81
Air pressure (mb) 922.5 921.7 922.2 921.9 921.9 922.3 922.8 922.5 923.0 922.6 922.0 922.1
Source: Bandung Dalam Angka (Bandung in Numbers), 2003.


The city area in 1906 was only 19.22 square kilometers and it has been expanded several times until the 1987 expansion into 167.2965 km². The city administration is divided into 26 sub-districts (kecamatan) and 139 villages (kelurahan). A mayor (walikota) leads the city administration. Since 2005, the city residents directly voted for a mayor, while previously mayors were nominated and selected by the city council members or known as the Regional People's Representative Council (DPRD). As of 2003, the total number of city administration personnel, including the mayor, is 20,163.


Bandung is renowned for its large stock of Dutch colonial architecture; most notably the tropical Art Deco architectural style. Henri Maclaine-Pont is among the first Dutch architects who realized how important to combine each architectural style with culture of local people. He stressed that modern architecture should be evolved from local history and native elements. In 1920, Pont planned and designed buildings for the first technical university in the Dutch East Indies, Technische Hogeschool te Bandung (the present-day Institut Teknologi Bandung), after which he was named as a professor in architecture at the university. A striking local Javanese roof style is noticeably seen on top of the campus' ceremonial hall, embedded in his artwork.

In the same year, another Dutch architect, J. Gerber, designed Gouverments Bedrijven (Government Companies) in line with the colonial government plan to move the capital from Batavia to Bandung. The building is an example of harmonic mixture between West and East architectural styles, particularly the Italian Renaissance style of arch structures in the west wing and Thailand's pagoda-like structures in the middle section. The building is known as Gedung Sate, named after the distinguished small satay shaped structure on the roof, and used as the head office of West Java provincial government and West Java's house of representative.
The modern and native architectural blending was followed by several Dutch architects that have shaped the city landmarks. In the 1930s, Bandung was known also as the city of architecture laboratory because of many Dutch architects made some experiments with new architectural designs. Albert Aalbers added the expressionist architecture style to the Art Deco by designing the DENIS bank (1936) and renovated the Savoy Homann Hotel (1939). C.P.W. Schoemaker was one of celebrated architects who strongly added native elements in his artworks, including the Villa Isola (1932), Hotel Preanger (1929), the regional military headquarter (1918), Gedung Merdeka (1921) and ITB Rectorate Building (1925).


Bandung is the capital of West Java, a province of which most of its residents are mainly Sundanese people. Sundanese language is spoken a second language after Indonesian and it is commonly used as an informal language for communication in streets and markets. A popular traditional musical instrument is angklung, made of parallel bamboo tubes tuned to specific frequencies with a hammer and is shaken to produce certain notes. Music is performed by a choir of angklung players, each of whom are responsible for sounding certain notes. Its melody is only slightly different from that of Central Java's gamelan ensembles.
Tourism industry

Bandung has served for popular weekend-break destination for people living in Jakarta for many reasons. The cooler climate of highland plantation area, the varieties of food, the cheaper fashion shops located in factory outlets and bistros, golf courses, and the friendliness of local people have become the main attraction of the city.

In the 1990s, local designers opened denim clothing stores along Cihampelas Street which gave Bandung another nickname, the "Tourist Shopping City" (Kota Wisata Belanja). It was a success as the-then residential street had been fully transformed into a "jeans street". The city attracts people from other big cities to buy local fashion wears, as they are cheaper than branded items.

The city gained more shoppers to come when textile factories in the outskirt of Bandung opened a fashion store that sells their products directly from the factory. The products are tagged as sisa export (rejected or over-produced export quality items) and these shops are called factory outlets. The trend was followed by another factory outlets.


Bandung is the home town of the soccer team Persib Bandung. Another soccer team Persikab is based in neighbouring city of Cimahi, part of Bandung Regency. The most popular football stadium is Siliwangi Stadium. Other popular sports in Bandung include badminton and basketball. The roads leading up to Lembang and Dago are popular routes for mountain cycling during the weekend. In the hillside around Bandung, there are a couple of golf courses.


Bandung can be accessed through three highways from Jakarta. An intercity toll highway, named as Cipularang toll road, connecting Jakarta, Karawang, Purwakarta, Padalarang and Bandung, has recently been completed in May 2005. It is currently the fastest way to go to Bandung from the capital. Driving time is about 1.5 hours on average. There are 2 other options: the Puncak route (Jakarta-Cianjur/Sukabumi-Bandung) or the Subang route (Jakarta-Cikampek-Subang-Lembang-Bandung). From eastern part of the cities (Cirebon, Tasikmalaya and Central Java province), Bandung can be accessed through the main provincial road.

The Pasupati bridge recently opened to the public, relieving traffic jams in the city for east-west transport. The 2.8 km cable-stayed bridge lies through the valley of Cikapundung. It is 30 to 60 metres wide and after extensive delays, its construction finally completed in June 2005, following financial investment from Kuwait. The bridge is part of Bandung's comprehensive inner-city highways plan.

Taxis are widely available. The primary means of public transportation is by minibus, called angkot (from angkutan=transportation and kota=city). They serve certain routes throughout the city and are operated privately. To find exact angkot routes, information are available through the drivers or at terminals. City-owned buses, called DAMRI, operates on larger relatively long routes. Bandung has 2 intercity bus terminals: Leuwipanjang, serving buses from the west, and Cicaheum, serving buses from the east.

Bandung Husein Sastranegara International Airport serves flights to Jakarta, Batam, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Denpasar and other major cities in Indonesia and also international services from Kuala Lumpur. The airport is located nearby the Dirgantara aerospace complex and Dirgantara Fairground.

Railway connects Bandung to Jakarta, Purwakarta, Bekasi, Karawang and Cikampek to the west, and Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Solo to the east. It is also the major means of transportation for people living in suburb areas of Cimahi, Padalarang, Rancaekek, Cicalengka and Cileunyi.


There are hundreds of public and private schools in Bandung. Like in other Indonesian cities, Bandung has several state-funded and administered junior high and high schools, called State Junior High Schools (SMPN) and State High Schools (SMA), respectively.

At least 16 universities — three of them are state-owned universities — and 45 professional schools are scattered throughout the city. From social sciences, technology until tourism education can be found in one of those universities. The oldest technical university, Institut Teknologi Bandung, established in 1920 as Bandung Technische Hogeschool in Dutch, has been attached as a trademark of the city's high education status. Therefore, the city has attracted hundreds of students from all over Indonesia.


Bandung economy is mainly built upon tourism, manufacturing, textile/apparel, education institutions, technology, retail, services, financial, pharmaceutical, food, among others. Those are the major investments and most popular fields/industries being sought here.
Picture: Martabak
Bandung has nearly 50 higher educational institutions and is among the most popular destination for education in Indonesia. Creative-based culture has shaped the basis of Bandung economy. The once quiet residential district of Dago has become an important business and entertainment centre. Chic cafes and restaurants are spreading out along Dago Street. In the early 1990s Cihampelas Street became a popular clothing store location.

The distro sell stylish non-trademarked products, made by local designers. Books, indie label records, magazines, fashion products and other accessories are typical distro products. After their products receive large teenagers attention, then these local designers make their own clothing company. Now, there are more than 200 local brand names in Bandung. Distro distance itself from factory outlet in term of its philosophy. Distros come from individual designers and young entrepreneurs, while factory outlet products come from a garment factory.

Environmental issues

The north of the city serves as a water reservoir for Bandung's 2 million people, however, the area has seen much residential development. Several attempts to reserve this area have been made, including the creation of reserves, such as the Juanda National Park and Puncrut, but the development continues. The real danger has come in the form of several floodings in Bandung's south.

In the middle of 2006, Bandung faced another environmental disaster, as the city's land fill site reevaluated after a landslide in 2005. Collection of 8,000 m3/day domestic garbage piled up, causing air pollution, spreading of diseases, and water contamination. The provincial government eventually stepped in to solve the garbage issues.

All text in this article is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Last revised on September 25, 2009
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