Jakarta, the capital, is the largest city. It is located on the north-western coast of the island of Java on Jakarta Bay, at the mouth of the Ciliwung River. Jakarta is also the centre of activities for the whole of Indonesia. There are more than 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia with over 200 languages being spoken. Half the total population are Javanese with the balance being made up largely of Sundanese in West Java, Javanese in Central and East Java, Madurese in East Java and Madura, Balinese, the Coastal Malays, Buginese, Makassarese, and Bataks. Being a big city, Jakarta's population is a composite of many racial strains, including Arab, Indian, Papuan, Dutch and Chinese. But the majority are of Malay origin.
Places of interest
Jakarta, the capital and largest city, has changed immeasurably since the days of the Portuguese arrival in 1522. Wide highways have replaced dusty bullock tracks. Skyscrapers have grown where thatched huts once stood. But beautiful examples of the old colonial architecture have been preserved, and in quiet residential neighborhoods you can still see neat Dutch bungalows with their red-tiled roofs.
The evolution of the Indonesian character is traced in many of Jakarta's museums. The central Museum on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat contains the finest collection of archaeological and anthropological exhibits in the Republic. The Satriamandala Armed Forces Museum in Jalan Jenderal Gatot Suborot has relics from each stage of the development of the Indonesian Armed Forces. The displays include airplanes, artillery and Armour. The Jakarta Museum. also known as the Old Batavia Museum. has exhibits showing the development of Jakarta from the time of Dutch rule. The National Monument at Medan Merdeka in central Jakarta is the most outstanding reminder of the Indonesian people's struggle for independence. Measuring 137 meters, it is made of 35 kg of pure gold.
An interesting project launched by the Governor is the restoration of Old Batavia. The object of this exercise is to preserve the sights and flavors of the 17th and 18th Centuries. The site spans three areas: Taman Fatahillah, Glodok, and the old port of Sunda Kelapa.
There are three museums, one displaying the History of the Spice Trade, another exhibiting models of past and present ships, and the third with displays of Wayang Kulit puppet figures. The shops are decorated in the traditional style and offer antiques, batiks, porcelain and paintings. Refreshments are served in a Dutch-style coffee house. Sixteen kilometers south of Jakarta is Ragunan Zoo at Pasar Minggu, where many species of rare wildlife are displayed. Star exhibits are Birds of Paradise and the Komodo Dragon, a gigantic reptile which can grow to a length of 4 meters - the world's largest living lizard.
An extensive park set in over 100 hectares on the outskirts of Jakarta, the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature) is Indonesia's answer to every tourist's prayer to see this magnificent archipelago in just one day. All the Indonesian islands are realistically reproduced in miniature in a central lake and around the lake are pavilions to represent the twenty-seven provinces in Indonesia. Each pavilion is representative of each province from the traditional architectural style in miniature to a wonderful display of cultural items and exhibits. Cultural dances and ceremonies are also presented in all the pavilions. You can enjoy a leisurely tour in the cable car, the tram or horse drawn cart. There is also a beautiful Orchid Garden, a Bird Park and a Zoological Museum to visit in this park. Opening hours are from 9 am to 4 pm daily.
Other places to visit are Dunia Fantasy - miniature Disneyland in the Ancol area; Ancol Beach Resort which provides comprehensive facilities; and Taman Ria Remaja in Senayan - a beautiful amusement park complete with boating facilities. The beautiful 'Indonesia Permai' Orchid Garden (at Slipli suburb), with its magnificent collection of flora, also affords an opportunity of seeing different traditional and tribal architecture of Indonesia.
Around Jakarta, there are several places of interest that provide a relaxing change of atmosphere. Bogor, a cool haven 64 km outside Jakarta, houses the famous Botanical Garden which contains 11,000 different species of tropical plants and trees and 3,500 varieties of beautiful orchids. Puncak is a mountain resort on the road between Bogor and Bandung. Pretty bungalows and cottages, set amidst lush foliage, command a panoramic view.
The artistic capital of West Java, Bandung, affords a year-round cool climate. Its attractions include the Bosscha Observatory, the largest swimming pool in Southeast Asia at 'Karangsetra', Maribaya Hot Springs and Tangkuban Perahu crater. Resorts that provide swimming and boating facilities are Jatiluhur Lakeside Resort, Pulau Putri, Merak Beach and other islands in Pulau Seribu. At Jogjakarta, there is the magnificent temple complex of Borobudur. And if you have the time, a visit to the beautiful island of Bali is a must.
Jakarta offers a blend of sophisticated western nightlife and an introduction to the amazing variety of traditional Indonesian music, dance and cultural arts. The Jakarta Art Centre 'Taman Ismail Marzuki' is the focal point of cultural activities. There are performances by the Jakarta Symphony Orchestra and drama groups as well as regional art shows, folk dances, song recitals and concerts. The Centre produces a free monthly calendar of events available at most hotels, and tickets are sold at the Centre.
Radio Republic Indonesia stages regular Wayang Kulit and Wayang Golek puppet shows and Javanese orchestral concerts. Admission is free but applications for tickets should be forwarded to the Public Relations Department, Radio Republic Indonesia, 4-5 Medan Merdeka Barat, enclosing a self-addressed envelope. If you're interested in classical cultural shows, there are private theatres offering this class of entertainment. Several hotels and nightclubs also offer cultural shows on a regular basis. Throughout Jakarta, nightclubs, discotheques and cinemas provide entertainment to suit every taste. Consult the newspapers for details of current attractions.
Festivals and Special Events
National Film Day on 30 March is celebrated by the country's film community. New films produced in the country are shown in various cinemas. A carnival is held along the main streets of Jakarta.
Jakarta Fair (usually from mid-June) is the annual seven-week trade, tourism and cultural fair. Many regions of Indonesia, ASEAN countries and international firms participate. The first day is a kaleidoscope of traditional costumes and dances. Cultural performances are offered on special nights by separate regional pavilions.
Jakarta Anniversary (June). The city celebrates its founding with a glittering Metropolitan Ball where a "King and Queen" are selected. On the eve, several streets including the main business thoroughfare, Jalan Thamrin, are closed to traffic from dusk to dawn while there is street dancing and merry-making. The month-long celebrations before the actual day include social, cultural and sports events.
Grand Prix D'Indonesia (first week in July) at Ancol Circuit is the top racing event of the year with international participation.