Known throughout the world for being a city of amazing contrast, megacity Jakarta combines cultures from all around the Indonesian archipelago, rich and poor, traditional and modern.

You’ll find pockets of people from every corner of the country, bringing their cultures, languages, food and customs to the great melting pot of Jakarta. Spread over 67-square kilometres, and home to more than 10 million people (depending on where you set the city limits), Jakarta is also an expat haven, with people from all over the world residing here.

Development in Jakarta has been rapid since the 60s. You’ll now find some of the world’s most imaginative skyscrapers side-by-side with traditional villages (whose days one suspects are numbered). Very much the centre of Indonesia (and home to most of the country’s wealth), Jakarta is booming.

Far more than a centre for industry and trade, Jakarta is also now a popular tourist destination. There’s a rich history to explore, impressive buildings, old colonial areas, some of the best food in the world, and shopping opportunities for any taste and budget.

Like any capital city, Jakarta is not without problems. Jakarta is a honey-pot for Indonesia’s rural poor, and the swelling population makes congestion a daily nightmare (unless you know how to avoid it). Six Degrees staff are always on-hand to give traffic-avoidance tips. You also have to consider safety, but this is the same everywhere. There is far less danger on the streets in Jakarta than in many, many Western cities.

Jakarta’s history dates back to the 1300s, when Sunda Kelapa was established – a small fishing port still in use today by the world’s largest fleet of working sailing schooners.

Foreign occupiers were soon to arrive, led by the Portuguese. They were soon sent packing by the Islamic forces of Fatahillah, who changed the name of the city to Jayakarta (City of Victory). This name change happened on 22nd June 1527, a date still remembered as Jakarta’s birthday.

The Dutch began their colonisation of Jakarta in 1596, secretly building a fortress when they had permission only to build a trading post. After some altercations with the prince of Jayakarta, who was helped by the British, the city was eventually taken over by the Dutch colonial forces in 1619. The city was almost entirely destroyed in the process, and rebuilt under the new name Batavia. The Dutch stayed for over three hundred years until Indonesia fell to the Japanese in the Second World War.

After the war the Dutch tried to retake control, but were defeated by the Republic of Indonesia’s founding fathers, Soekarno and Hatta. They proclaimed independence and renamed the city Jakarta.

For information on what to do and see, and how to get a taste of Jakarta’s rich history, speak to the people at Six Degrees backpackers hostel – They’re happy to help you.