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Serving as the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is both the largest and most culturally-diverse city in the Southeast Asian country. Since the first settlements in the area of Jakarta were laid by Hindu pilgrims in the 4th century AD, the city has been known by many names, and controlled by an equally extensive number of empires. For nearly 1,000 years, Jakarta was part of the Kingdom of Sunda, who ruled a number of surrounding territories along the Indian Ocean. With the arrival of Portuguese explorers in the 16 century, the lucrative spice trade was quickly established with Jakarta being the primary port in the region.
The Kingdom of Sunda eventually fell to the Muslim Sultanate of Fatahillah, who also expelled the Portuguese from the region. However, trade routes were reestablished soon after with the arrival of Dutch and English traders, including the influential English East India Company. After repeated conflicts between the two colonial powers vying for trade dominance, the Dutch and their own East India Company emerged victorious.
The Dutch East India Company remained the dominant trading power in the region's islands until its eventual dissolution in 1800, when the Dutch formally declared the formation of the Dutch East Indies, which covered much of the area known today as Indonesia. In 1950, the efforts of Indonesian nationalists succeeded in gaining full independence for the nation, with Jakarta established as its capital. Although the city and its residents have often been enveloped in political unrest and instability, the economy of Jakarta continues to grow as foreign investors seek new markets for development.