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Jakarta (DKI Jakarta) is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Located on the northwest coast of Java, it has an area of 661 square kilometers and a population of 8,490,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political center. It is the most populous city in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and is the twelfth-largest city in the world. The metropolitan area, Jabodetabek, is the second largest in the world.

Sunda Kelapa
The old port of Jakarta

Sunda Kelapa is the old port of Jakarta located on the estuarine of Ciliwung River. Sunda Kalapa is the original name, and it was the main port of Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran. The port is situated in Penjaringan sub-district, of North Jakarta, Indonesia. Today the old port only accommodate pinisi, a traditional two masted wooden sailing ship serving inter-island freight service in the archipelago. Although it is now only a minor port, Jakarta had its origins in Sunda Kelapa and it played a significant role in the city's development.


According to the Chinese source, Chu-fan-chi, written circa 1200, Chou-Ju-Kua identified the two most powerful and richest kingdoms in the Indonesian archipelago as Srivijaya and Java (Kediri). According to this source, in the early 13th Century, Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda). The source identifies the port as strategic and thriving, pepper from Sunda being among the best in quality. The people worked in agriculture and their houses were built on wooden piles (rumah panggung). However, robbers and thieves plagued the country.
Picture: Sunda Kelapa
From 13th to 16th century Sunda Kelapa was the main port of Sunda Kingdom. The port served the capital, Pakuan Pajajaran, located about 60 km inland south, along Ciliwung river hinterland, now the site of modern Bogor. The port thrive on international spice trade especially pepper, the main spice produce of Sunda kingdom. Sunda Kelapa, together with Aceh and Makassar, were one of the few Indonesian ports that maintained ties with Europe. In 1522, the Portuguese secured a politics and economic agreement with Sunda Kingdom, the authority of the port.
In exchange for military assistance against the threat of rising Islamic Javanese Sultanate of Demak, Prabu Surawisesa, king of Sunda at that time, granted them free access to the pepper trade. Portuguese who were in the service of the sovereign, made their homes in Sunda Kelapa. However in 1527, Fatahillah, on behalf of Demak attacked Portuguese in Sunda Kelapa and succeeded in conquering the harbour on June 22, 1527, after which Sunda Kelapa was renamed Jayakarta. Later the port become the part of Banten Sultanate.

In 1619, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, an official working for the Dutch East India Company, seized the port from the Sultanate of Banten and razed the city. From the ashes of Jayakarta, the Dutch build a new city, Batavia. The old port served as the main port of Batavia until late 19th century, when Netherlands East Indies government decided to built a new Tanjung Priok port to accommodate the increasing traffic as the result from the opening of the Suez Canal.
The new port located 9 kilometers east from the old port. After the independence of Republic of Indonesia, the Batavia old port is renamed back to its original name, Sunda Kelapa, as a tribute to the long history of the port as the cradle of Jakarta.

Location map of Sunda Kelapa

Last revised on January 07, 2010
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