Indonesia is home to 273.5 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the entire world. Although it is rarely thought of as an urbanized hub of the eastern world, it is also home to one of the largest megacities in the region. Today, we are going to explore the top 5 most populated cities in Indonesia and learn a bit about what makes them special. Let’s get started!
The top 5 most populated cities in Indonesia:
1. Jakarta – 10.56 million
Although it probably comes as no surprise, Jakarta is the largest city in the entire of Indonesia. Its population exceeds 10 million residents, and it continues to grow each year. In fact, Jakarta grew by nearly 10% from 2010 to 2020. Jakarta is recognized as a megacity (over 10 million people) and is also considered to be a primate city. Primate cities are classified as cities that are the largest in the region and are disproportionally larger than any other cities around. Being nearly 3.5 times larger than its nearest competitor, the designation makes sense.
Aside from being the leader in population, Jakarta is also the cultural, economic, and political capital of the entire country. When you include the surrounding area and metropolitan region, Jakarta becomes the second largest metropolis in the world, only behind Japan.
2. Surabaya – 2.87 million
In a rather drastic population drop, Surabaya comes in second place with 2.87 million. This city is the capital province of the famous province of Java on the Island of Java. It sits on the Madura Strait and is one of the most important port cities for the region. When the surrounding regions are included, the Surabaya metropolitan region earns the second spot on the list for the largest metropolis.
The city is very old and was first settled in the 10th century by the Kingdom of Janggala. The Kingdom of Janggala was one of the two Javanese kingdoms that formed when Airlangga, a leader, gave his throne his two sons and caused a split. By the 15th and 16th centuries, Indonesia had become a large political power in the region under the Majapahit empire.
3. Bekasi – 2.54 million
The city of Bekasi is the third largest city in Indonesia and the largest landlocked city in the country. It’s within the borders of the Jakarta metro area (Jabodetabek), but it’s still its own distinct city. Its proximity to Jakarta has turned it into a commuter city, meaning it’s mostly residential, not commercial.
Bekasi is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia and is currently and was once the capital city of the Kingdom of Tarumanagara. While it was the authoritative seat of the Tarumanagara government, its name was Dayeuh Sundasembawa. The earliest evidence of civilization in the region dates to the 5th century, showing just how ancient the city is. The city is also located on Java, an island within Indonesia.
4. Bandung – 2.44 million
Bandung is the fourth largest city in Indonesia and the capital city of West Java, one of the provinces dividing the island of Java. Its metropolitan area, named Greater Bandung, is the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 8 million people. Due to its elevation, Bandung has cooler temperatures than most of the country. Additionally, it is nestled within volcanic mountains, creating a natural defense system.
Bandung’s natural defense system, the volcanic mountains surrounding it, made it a very important region for the Dutch East India Company. The natural defensibility led them to try and move the capital from Jakarta, (named Batavia at the time) to Bandung.
5. Medan – 2.43 million
The fifth largest city in Indonesia, Medan is the first city on the list not located on the island of Java. Instead, Medan is found on another famous island known as Sumatra. Sumatra is the largest island that is fully Indonesian and the sixth largest island in the world.
Medan is the regional powerhouse of Sumatra and the economic hub for the island. Additionally, it’s one of the four central cities of Indonesia, along with Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar. Its metropolitan area is the largest in Java and has important connections to nearby ports. Medan was founded by Guru Patimpus back in 1632 and became industrial in the 19th century when Dutch colonials began planting tobacco.
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