Surabaya is Indonesia's second-largest city, and the capital of the province of East Java. It is located on the northern shore of eastern Java at the mouth of the Mas River and along the edge of the Madura Strait. To Indonesians, it is known as "the city of heroes", due to the importance of the Battle of Surabaya in galvanising Indonesian and international support for Indonesian independence during the Indonesian National Revolution.
Surabaya is locally believed to derive its name from the words sura or suro (shark) and baya or boyo (crocodile), two creatures which, in a local myth, fought each other in order to gain the title of "the strongest and most powerful animal" in the area according to a Jayabaya prophecy.
This prophecy tells of a fight between a giant white shark and a giant white crocodile. Now the two animals are used as the city's logo, the two facing each other while circling, as depicted in a statue appropriately located near the entrance to the city zoo. This folk etymology, though embraced enthusiastically by city leaders, is unverifiable. Alternate derivations proliferate: from the Javanese sura ing baya, meaning "bravely facing danger"; or from the use of surya to refer to the sun.
Some people consider this Jayabaya prophecy as a great war between Surabaya native people and invaders in 1945, while another story is about two heroes that fought each other in order to be the king of the city. The two heroes were Sura and Baya.
Last revised on December 04, 2009
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