Jakarta is a multicultural city.

In Jakarta, local culture, Betawi, fuse with European, Indian, Chinese, and Arab influences.

In the 4th century AD, Jakarta, then named Sunda Kelapa, was already known as a busy port of the Hindu Pajajaran kingdom where were settlements of traders from China, India and Arabia, as well as of ethnic groups from the many islands in the Indonesian archipelago who came to trade predominantly in pepper. During the European Age of Discovery in quest  of  the Spice Islands, the first Portuguese vessel anchored here in 1522 and carried home a large cargo of precious pepper.

In 1527, fearing the power of the Portuguese who supported the Hindu Sunda kingdom, Prince Fatahillah of the Islamic kingdom of Cirebon attacked the town and established a new town called Jayakarta on 22 June 1527, which today is taken as the official date of birth of the city of Jakarta.  Towards the end of the 17th century in 1596, the first Dutch merchant ships anchored here, followed in 1602 by the first British ship of the English East India Company.

In 1619, Dutch forces under Jan Pieterszoon Coen attacked Jayakarta, razing it completely to the ground. Upon its ruins he established the town of Batavia, - now known as Old Batavia - to become the center from which he ruled Dutch interest across the archipelago from the Stadhuis, now the Fatahillah Museum housing the history of Jakarta.

Because Batavia continued to be attacked by the surrounding Javanese kingdoms of Demak and Mataram, the Dutch built a walled city here, where indigenous Indonesians were kept outside the walls while only Europeans and Chinese could live inside the walls. Nonetheless, at the uprising and massacre of the Chinese, in 1740 these were relegated to the area known as Glodok, today’s Chinatown, the city’s center for trade and business.   

In the meantime, the many indigenous ethnic groups intermarried and merged to form the Betawi ethnic group.  The Betawi are today considered the indigenous people of the city of Jakarta.

Today, Old Batavia, with its many Dutch heritage buildings together with the nearby Kota are preserved and revitalized to become an important business center business area as well as historic tourist destination. The large buildings once housing government offices and large corporations now house among others the Wayang Museum, the Arts and Ceramics Museum, and other heritage sites.

 Meanwhile, with the growth of the city, the government moved the capital south to Weltevreden, today’s Menteng area in Central Jakarta, where the Dutch built palaces, churches, cathedrals, theatres and museums, besides opulent residential areas. This is the reason why most of the Dutch colonial heritage buildings can be found in this municipality.

After a 3 years occupation by the Japanese from 1942-1945, the Indonesian people declared their Independence on 17 August 1945. Soekarno, was chosen as the first President of the Republic of Indonesia. The name Batavia was again changed to be called Jakarta.  It was President Soekarno who first planned the modernization of Jakarta further south along the present Jalan Sudirman. Soekarno also built the National Monument, the Istiqlal Mosque, the Senayan Sports Stadium and the wide Thamrin-Sudirman Boulevard as well as Indonesia’s first highrise hotel, the Hotel Indonesia.

With this rich histori multi-racial and multi-ethnic heritage, Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta has become  a convergence of national and international interest and networks, providing lessons of the past and  creations,  innovations and hope for generations to come.

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