01/18/2022, 13.26
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Nusantara to be Indonesia’s new capital

by Mathias Hariyadi

President Widodo made the decision in 2019, but the project was halted due to the pandemic. The city will rise in East Kalimantan, in the centre of the country. Jakarta will remain as economic and financial hub.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia will have a new capital, and it will be called Nusantara. It will rise in East Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, replacing Jakarta, which is located on the more populous island of Java.

The official announcement was made yesterday, but as early as August 2019 President Joko Widodo had announced a multi-billion-dollar project to transfer the capital, which was blocked, citing various reasons, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jakarta, with its 10 million inhabitants, is more prone to natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and forest fires.

The northern part has already been submerged by water and due to traffic congestion, the city is among the most polluted metropolises in Asia.

By contrast, according to Widodo, Nusantara not only will not have these problems, but will be located in the exact centre of the country between the two developing cities of Samarinda and Balikpapan.

The new urban centre will be home to the government’s administrative headquarters, while the current capital will continue to play the role of the country's economic and financial centre.

About “58 per cent of Indonesia’s total gross domestic product happens on the island of Java, which guarantees food security for the whole country,” Jokowi said in 2019.

“The country’s new capital will be located in a huge area between North Penajam Paser regency and Kutai Kartanegara regency,” he explained, noting the presence of two important transport hubs in East Kalimantan, the international airport and the seaport near Balikpapan.

Nyoman Nuarta, a Balinese artist originally from Tabanan, is the winner of the government’s competition to design the new presidential palace.

Nusantara is a popular term that literally means “outer islands” or more simply “archipelago”. It was used in reference to the entire Maritime Southeast Asia or to Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) before independence in 1945.

It still includes references to Austronesian-related cultures and other countries in the region, excluding Papua New Guinea.

According to various historical sources, the word stems from the oath made by Gajah Mada, military leader and prime minister of the Empire of Majapahit in East Java in 1336.

Gajah Mada brought the empire to its peak of glory and swore not to eat any food containing spices until he had conquered all of “Nusantara”.

According to other sources, however, the term has an earlier origin referring to the union of the maritime kingdoms of Southeast Asia in opposition to the rise of the Mongolian Yuan dynasty in mainland China in 1275.

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