May 6, 2019

Indonesia plans to move its capital from fast-sinking Jakarta

What's not to like? Besides the pollution, congestion and risk of being wiped out entirely by rising tides. Photo: Ardiles Rante/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Jakarta is overcrowded, polluted, and sinking faster than any other city on Earth. Still, it was shocking when President Joko Widodo announced that it will no longer be Indonesia’s capital.

What to watch: The final destination is not clear, and the capital may never get there. The Economist breaks it down.

  • “The relocation could take ten years. It is likely to face stern resistance, not least from Indonesia’s tycoons, who do not want to see the value of their Jakarta penthouses fall.”
  • “Civil servants will probably object too, because the most likely new site for the capital is something of a backwater.”
  • “Palangkaraya is a city of 260,000 in the province of Central Kalimantan, part of the Indonesian portion of Borneo. Whereas Jakarta lacks greenery, Palangkaraya has it in abundance: the city is in the middle of the jungle.”
  • “There is a titchy airport; the nearest seaport is a four-hour drive away, past an orangutan reserve. Much of the surrounding terrain is soft and swampy — not ideal for building skyscrapers. And when nearby peatlands burn, a toxic haze fills the air. Government officials may be sinking and choking in their new digs, too.”
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