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Indonesia Is Changing Its Capital To Nusantara – Because Jakarta Seems To Be ‘Sinking’

Nusantara, Indonesia's Next Capital, Will Replace The Dying Jakarta

Nusantara, which means “archipelago” in Javanese, will be the name of Indonesia’s new capital. The announcement came after parliament passed a plan to move the capital from Jakarta, which is rapidly collapsing.

President Joko Widodo originally announced the proposal to relocate Indonesia’s capital in 2019, citing the need to address the country’s massive environmental concerns and redistribute wealth. The relocation has been postponed due to the pandemic; however, it might happen in 2024.

The government believes that it would ease the pressure on Jakarta. This ten-million-strong metropolis is extremely overcrowded, regularly floods, and is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities owing to excessive groundwater extraction. 

Widodo chose the new name from more than 80 suggestions because it reflected Indonesia’s landscape and was iconic worldwide, according to Suharso Monoarfa, the national development planning minister.

Some have suggested that the option might be misleading because Nusantara also refers to the whole island nation. Others have questioned why Nusantara, an old Javanese word, was chosen as the name for Kalimantan’s new capital.

By moving capital, the government also seeks to redistribute wealth. Despite being roughly four times the size of the country, Java is home to 60% of the population and more than half of the economic activity.

Jakarta will retain its commercial and financial center, but government functionaries will be moved to East Kalimantan, around 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) north of Jakarta. North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara will be the future capital.

Environmentalists claim that the proposal will aggravate pollution in East Kalimantan and contribute to the deterioration of rainforests that are home to orangutans, sun bears, and monkeys.

Construction on the new capital might start this year after parliament approved a plan on Tuesday. The relocation would cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($32.4 billion; £23.8 billion) and will be one of Indonesia’s most significant infrastructure projects ever.

Indonesia is not the first country to relocate its capital; Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria have relocated their capitals to new planned and built cities.