Jakarta, or Djakarta, Indonesia, the nation's capital and largest city. It is on the northwestern coast of the island of Java, where it fronts on the Java Sea and is crossed by numerous canals and the Liwung River. Jakarta and its suburbs form the national capital district and cover an area of some 230 square miles (600 km2). The entire area has grown enormously since the mid-20th century, making Jakarta one of the most populous cities in the world.
Jakarta is the leading commercial and industrial center of Indonesia. Major economic activities include the making of textiles, processed foods, chemicals, and motor vehicles. The city has Indonesia's busiest port and international airport.
Covering nearly 250 acres (100 hectares), Meredeka Square dominates central Jakarta. The focal point of the square is the National Monument, a 350-foot (107-m) tower commemorating Indonesian independence. Near the square are the Presidential Palace, the National Museum, and Istiqlal Mosque, Indonesia's largest mosque.
The national parliament, the supreme court, and many government offices are in Jakarta. Also here are the National Archives, the University of Indonesia, and the Jakarta Cultural Center, which houses theaters, galleries, and a planetarium.
Jakarta's residents are ethnically diverse, and most are Muslims. The chief groups are the Sundanese, the predominant people in the surrounding province of West Java, and the Javanese. There are also many persons of Chinese descent.
Settlement probably began about the 5th century A.D.and at times Jakarta was a trade center of Hindus and Buddhists who came originally from the Asian mainland. Late in the 16th century the Dutch and the Portuguese struggled for a foothold on Java. The Dutch prevailed and founded a trading post of the Dutch East India Company at Jakarta in 1610. In 1619 the Dutch conquered and razed the native settlement and laid out a new town, naming it Batavia. Batavia became the capital of the Netherlands East Indies and the hub of a rich commercial empire that lasted more than 300 years. During World War II the Japanese occupied Batavia, 1942–45. When Indonesia won its independence from the Dutch in 1949, the city was renamed Jakarta and made the capital.