Thursday, March 1, 2007

Urbanization and Suburbanization in Jakarta

Jakarta is the largest metropolitan in Southeast Asia with tremendous rate of population growth and wide range of urban problems. The overall population of Jakarta increased 100 times in the 20th century, from about 100,000 in 1900 to more than 9 million in 1995. Most of the population was added in the last twenty years of the 20th century (Han and Basuki, 2001). However, the total population of Jakarta has decreased in the last five years of the last decade. It dropped from 9,112,652 in 1995 as recorded by the 1995 National Intercensal Population Survey to 8,389,443 in 2000 according to the 2000 National Population Census.

The decrease of Jakarta’s population in 1995-2000 was caused by the suburbanization. The periphery of Jakarta –commonly known as Botadebek- has experienced a drastic increase in population. The population of Botadebek has tripled from 4.4 million in 1980 to 12.6 million in 2000, while Jakarta’s population increased by only 30 percent. Some studies (Firman, 1998; Leaf, 1994; Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001) revealed that many moderate and high-income families moved out from the central city to the peripheral areas. They were attracted by high quality amenities provided by suburban enclave housing. In addition, the poor native Jakarta was relocated to the fringe areas because of the expansion of formal sector in the central city.

Total population of the Jakarta Metropolitan Area consisting of Jakarta and the neighboring districts of Bogor, Tangerang, Depok and Bekasi –abbreviated as Botadebek- in 2000 reached more than 21 million. This population consisted of about 80 percent urban population and 20 percent rural population and inhabited an area of approximately 6400 square kilometers. This population was about 10 percent of total population of Indonesia and only about 0.3 percent of total area of Indonesia. McGee (1994) estimated that the total population of the Jakarta Metropolitan Area will reach 40 million by 2020.

The periphery of Jakarta is heavily dependent on the central city. Botadebek is a “bedroom suburb” for the daily commuters of Jakarta. Jakarta is the center of government and corporate offices, commercial, and entertainment enterprises. The economy of Jakarta dominates its peripheral areas. In the daytime, total population in Jakarta nearly doubled its population in the nighttime (Kompas, June 18, 2004). The number of daily movement in Jakarta is estimated at six to seven millions

To understand the urbanization in Jakarta, it is essential to recognize the socio-economic dualism which pervades Indonesian urban society. The manifestations of this dualism are the presence of the modern city and the kampung city in urban areas in Indonesia including Jakarta. The kampung, the word means village in Indonesian, is associated with informality, poverty, and the retention of rural traditions in an urban setting. Firman (2000) argues that the existence of kampung and modern city reflects the spatial segregation and socio-economic disparities.

The growing number of migrants to Jakarta and of poor Jakarta natives has caused the formation of new squatter kampungs in the periphery of Jakarta (Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001). Many constructions in the central city also caused some residents of kampung evicted and relocated to the periphery. The periphery also attracted the migrants because of the improved infrastructure and facilities in Jakarta’s peripheral areas (Goldblum and Wong, 2000).

Since 1950 Jakarta has attracted people from all parts of Java and other Indonesian islands. The flood of migrants came to Jakarta for economic reasons as Jakarta offered hopes of jobs. The census 1961 showed that only 51% of the city’s populations were actually born in Jakarta (Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001). Several times the Jakarta officials tried to control the migration by declaring the city to be a closed city where new migrants were not allowed. However, these attempts were useless since the large number of migrants ignored the laws.

Leaf (1994) identified rapid growth of suburban enclave housing in Jakarta during early 1990s. The residential enclave for narrowly targeted moderate and high-income families characterized the Jakarta’s suburban (Firman, 1998; Leaf, 1994). Located on the periphery of the city, these settlements were built in automobile-accessed and various high-quality amenities such as modern golf courses. High-income families in the central city also moved to the periphery in search of better living quality (Goldblum and Wong, 2000). The high cost of the house and the need for automobile ownership restricted entry low-income families into the suburban housing market. One in five families in Jakarta’s suburban owned an automobile (Leaf, 1994).

Leaf (1994) argued that the suburbanization in Jakarta was direct outcome of at least two policies: the subsidized housing finance program and municipal permit system for land development. These policies have most benefited some developers that strongly linked with the New Order regime. Half of the land development permits were given to 16 out of 183 development firms (Leaf, 1994).

In addition to residential zones, the periphery of Jakarta is also specialized zones of commercial and industrial enterprises. There areas are complements the other districts of the city: the central business districts on Thamrin-Sudirman corridor, the government offices around Medan Merdeka, international seaport of Tanjung Priok, and the growing network of freeways. Initiated by a collaborative project of Bumi Serpong Damai in the early 1980s, the periphery of Jakarta was also location of several new towns. The first new town of Bumi Serpong Damai was planned for an eventual population of 600,000 in a total area of 6,000 hectares. This project was developed by several private developers and lead by the largest private developers –the Ciputra Group. Other new towns in the periphery of Jakarta include Bukit Jonggol Asri, Pembangunan Jaya, Lippo City, Cikarang Baru, Tigaraksa, Kota Legenda, Kota Cileungsi, Royal Sentul, Bintaro Jaya, Lido Lakes Resort, Gading Serpong, Modernland, Kot Citra Raya, Alam Sutera dan Kedaton (Firman, 1998).

In a number of new towns, the State Housing Provider Agency (Perumnas) joined with private developers to assure that some of their housing was targeted for low and moderate-income families (Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001). Most of the new towns offer relatively few employments. Their initial concepts to create self-contained communities are barely implemented. Instead, the new towns are “bedroom suburbs for city-bound commuters” (Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001).

The new towns were still heavily dependent on the central city (Firman, 2000). The development of large-scale housing projects intensified the daily interaction between the fringe areas and the central city of Jakarta. This worsened traffic problems in metropolitan Jakarta. The development of industrial zones in the periphery of Jakarta is also an indication of spatial restructuring that shifted manufacturing from the central city to the periphery. Using data of domestic and foreign investment in various economic sectors in Jakarta and its peripheries (Bogor, Tangerang and Bekasi), Firman (1998) found that the central city has attracted disproportionate investment in service industries, trade and hotel, and restaurant construction, while the peripheries has attracted most of the industrial construction. The main industries of Jakarta’s periphery include textiles, apparel, footwear, plastics, chemicals, electronics, metal products and foods (Cybriwsky and Ford, 2001).

As the capital and the economic, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of Indonesia, Jakarta and its extended areas willl remain attract growth. The urbanization and suburbanization in metropolitan Jakarta will keep going on. The predicted metropolitan Jakarta by the United Nations Population Prospects in 2015 will account for 7.2 percent of Indonesia's population. It grew from only 6.3 percent and 4.4 percent of Indonesia's population in 2005 and 1985 respectively.

Will Jakarta and its extended areas be able to accomodate urbanization and suburbanization? Will Jakarta sustain its growth? I doubt it. As I mentioned in earlier post, the recent floods is strong evidence to reduce urbanization in Jakarta. The flood is only one of other many evidences including traffic congestion and urban poverty. The on-going urbanization and suburbanization in Jakarta will create more problems not only for Jakarta but also for Indonesia.


  1. Cybriwsky, Roman and Ford, Larry R. (2001). City profile: Jakarta. Cities 18(3): 199-210
  2. Ernst, John P. (2004). Initiating bus rapid transit in Jakarta, Indonesia. A paper presented to the 2004 TRB Annual Meetings.
  3. Firman, Tommy. (1998). The restructuring of Jakarta Metropolitan Area: A “global city” in Asia. Cities 15(4): 229-243.
  4. Firman, Tommy. (1999). From “global city” to “city of crisis”: Jakarta Metropolitan Region under economic turmoil. Habitat International 23(4): 447-466.
  5. Firman, Tommy. (2004). New town development in Jakarta Metropolitan Region: A perspective of spatial segregation. Habitat International 28(3): 349-368.
  6. Goldblum, Charles, and Wong, Tai-Chee. (2000). Growth, crisis and spatial change: A study of haphazard urbanization in Jakarta, Indonesia. Land Use Policy 17: 29-37.
  7. Han, Sun Sheng and Basuki, Ann. (2001). The spatial pattern of land values in Jakarta. Urban Studies 38(10): 1841-1857.
  8. Leaf, Michael. (1994). The suburbanization of Jakarta: A concurrence of economics and ideology. Third World Planning Review 16(4): 341-356.
  9. McGee, T. (1994). The future of urbanization in developing countries: the case of Indonesia. Third World Planning Review 16: iii-xii.


Deden Rukmana said...

The Jakarta skyline picture was taken from a link that is no longer available at

tbelfield said...

Hi Deden,

Nice summary here on Jakarta. I have read most of the references you have cited. I have posted the pdf files in by blog in the reading list section. I need to update that.

School starts Monday. So here I go in high flying world of academia.

I still need to come up with something for the Master's Thesis. What would be of interest? I would like to write something elegant. Does that make any sense? ANy suggestions?

Hope your school year goes well. Many regards.

PS: I am still ahead of you if you Google 'urban Jakarta'...

Unknown said...

You only talk about sub-urbanisation in this article, there is no mention as to why people are moving from rural areas to cities or even urban areas.