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Jakarta Introduction

Jakarta Overview

Once saddled with a reputation as a poverty-ridden hell hole, Jakarta mutated into a metropolis with all the outward appearance of an Asian boom town in not much more than a decade. It took only a week of rioting in May 1998 to reduce some of this modern façade to a burnt out shell. Shopping malls, offices, banks and businesses owned by ethnic Chinese and the ruling Soeharto family took the brunt of the rioters anger. Jakarta remains very much at the centre of political events re-shaping Indonesia, and how quickly the city recovers from the riots and the political and economic turmoil remains to be seen.

That said, Jakarta is the most expensive city in Indonesia, the most polluted and the most congested. But if you can withstand this onslaught and afford to indulge in its charms, then it is also one of the regions most exciting metropolises. Consider Jakarta the big durian - the foul-smelling exotic fruit that some cant stomach and others cant resist.

Area: 1,922,570 sq km (742,308 sq miles).

Population: 224,784,210 (2000).

Population Density: 11.7 per sq km.

Capital: Jakarta (Java). Population: 9,341,400 (1996).

Geography: Indonesia lies between the mainland of South-East Asia and Australia in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world’s largest archipelago state. Indonesia is made up of six main islands – Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Kalimantan (part of the island of Borneo) and Irian Jaya (the western half of New Guinea) – and 30 smaller archipelagos. In total, the Indonesian archipelago consists of more than 17,000 islands; 6000 of these are inhabited and stretch over 4828km (3000 miles), most lying in a volcanic belt with more than 300 volcanoes, the great majority of which are extinct. The landscape varies from island to island, ranging from high mountains and plateaux to coastal lowlands and alluvial belts.

Government: Republic. Declared independence from the Netherlands in 1945. Head of State and Government: Megawati Sukarnoputri since 2001.

Language: Bahasa Indonesia is the official national language. It is similar to Malay and written in the Roman alphabet. In addition, there are over 250 recognised languages spoken by as many distinct ethnic groups. Many local languages are further divided by special forms of address depending on social status, and all languages are spoken in a variety of local dialects. English is the most widely used foreign language for business and tourism, and many people in the more remote areas have a basic command of English. The older generation still speak Dutch as a second language.

Religion: There is a Muslim majority of approximately