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8 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Jakarta

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Interning in Jakarta

Indonesia’s sprawling capital is a city of extremes. It has a real love it or hate it reputation among those who visit, but whether you like it or not, one thing’s for sure; you certainly won’t forget it. As the nations political, cultural and economic heart, Jakarta is the glue that binds Indonesia’s 17,000 islands together. It’s home to over 10 million people, representing 7 ethnic groups, 6 religions and countless languages. But that’s not all… here are 8 facts you probably didn’t know about Jakarta.    

Culture in Jakarta

It’s a City that Loves Shopping

If there’s one thing Jakartans love, it’s shopping. Amongst the city’s towering skyscrapers sit over 130 mega-malls selling almost anything imaginable, from local designer goods to imported foreign items. Open 24​ hours per day, 7 days per week, there’s never a bad time to hit the shops. Though, if you love a bargain, you won’t want to miss the Jakarta Great Sale, an event that sees over 80 malls and 40 market stalls selling their goods at hugely discounted rates, with some reaching up to 70% off! This annual tradition draws people from far and wide to benefit from exclusive discounts. If you enjoy a good shopping spree, Jakarta is the place to be.

It’s not actually a city

It may be known as the capital city of Indonesia, but Jakarta is not actually a city. Expanding across an impressive 661.5 km², it’s so big that it’s officially considered a province. As a historically important trading hub and the heart of Indonesian politics, culture and economics, Jakarta has gained 'special capital region' status, though it is commonly referred to as a city.

It’s the capital with the most active population on twitter

If you thought people in the west are addicted to social media, think again. A 2013 study by an Indonesian social media marketing agency noted that Jakartans are some of the world’s most active users of social sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook. The Indonesian capital alone accounted for around 2.4% of the world’s 10.6 billion Twitter posts sent between January and March that year. This social media channel in particular has become so popular in the capital, that Twitter opened up a branch in Jakarta two years later!

Cheap city of JakartaIt’s one of the world’s cheapest cities

If you’re looking to intern abroad on a budget, Jakarta is the place to go. Listed as the 13th cheapest city in Asia, it’s possible to enjoy a good standard of living at a very low cost. Renting a city centre apartment will set you back as little as $200 per month, and a decent sized Indonesian meal at a local restaurant typically costs around $2. A low cost of living makes Jakarta the perfect choice for the adventurous intern or backpacker looking to experience maximum culture at minimum cost.

It’s rude to pat someone on the head

This seemingly harmless action that’s often used to express affection in the West can cause great offense in Indonesia. Indonesians consider the head to be where a person’s spirit resides, and it is therefore sacred. Sure, the chances of you patting a local on the head during your internship or holiday are probably very slim, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution and be conscious of local customs!

It’s Extremely Multi-cultural

Home to over 10 million people originating from all corners of Indonesia and the world, Jakarta is a true cultural melting pot. The city boasts a colourful mix of religions, cultures and languages representing Java, Malaysia, China, the Middle East, India and Europe. These international influences have left their mark on the city’s architecture, language and cuisine, making Jakarta a truly fascinating place to explore. No two days in the Indonesian capital are the same, and there’s always something to learn, see or explore.

The traffic situation in Jakarta

It’s prone to flooding

Located to the south of the Java sea and with 13 rivers running through the province, Jakarta is particularly susceptible to flooding. Since as long as Jakartans can remember, flooding has been a problem in the city, though climate change is only increasing the threat. Sadly, Jakarta is sinking at an alarming rate, with over 40% of the city already below sea level. Currently, experts estimate that around 95% of the city will be submerged by 2050. Environmental agencies are planning and implementing measures to protect the city from disappearing - what better time or place to do an environmental internship and make a valued contribution?

It has the worst traffic in the world

Known for its notoriously bad traffic problem, Jakarta counts more cars than people. Rush hour in the Indonesian capital is like nothing you’ve ever seen, making even the shortest of journeys seem impossible. Jakarta may be one of the cheapest Asian cities but travelling by taxi is sure to put a strain on your wallet over the course of a few months. The traffic is so bad in fact, the government operates a ‘three to one’ rule, according to which no one can drive a car with less than 3 passengers during rush hour. If you plan to travel by car in Jakarta, make sure to leave plenty of time to get to your destination, and whatever you do don’t trust your map’s estimation!

Whether you love it or hate it, Jakarta is a captivating city that will keep you on your toes. Its sprawling metropolitan area is home to a growing number of local and international companies on the hunt for internationally minded interns to work in fields such as engineering, finance, marketing, environment and NGO’s. Whatever you’re looking for, Jakarta won’t disappoint.  


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