Leaving the city
A clean, green, hi-tech utopia
Trouble in paradise
Starting from scratch isn't the best option
Breaking a few eggs
Jungle dangers
The Brazilian example
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic
Indonesia's new capital
By 2024
Pollution and overpopulation
Jakarta is sinking
10 inches every year
Floods
Covid-19 delay
Welcome to Nusantara
East Kalimantan
In middle of the jungle
Endangered habitat
Java is full
10 years and over 32 billlion dollars
Brazilian innovation
Leaving Rio
Flight to modernity
Impracticality
Putrajaya
King and Parliament
Naypyidaw
Good-bye, Seoul
Sejong The Great
Abuja
An independent capital
Canberra
Compromise
Washington, D.C.
The War of 1812
A century in the making
All but one president
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Leaving the city

Nusantara, Indonesia's new capital city, is not open yet but lots of people are talking about it, not exactly in the best terms.

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A clean, green, hi-tech utopia

The plan, Fortune magazine writes, is to make a “clean, green, hi-tech utopia”, full of modernistic buildings and surrounded by nature. All residents would be at a 10-minute walk of lush, open spaces. This is quite a contrast to populated, overcrowded Jakarta.

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Trouble in paradise

However, the relocation of the capital to the middle of the jungle has also brought criticism towards the 32.5 billion-dollar project and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

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Starting from scratch isn't the best option

“The big question, of course, is how and if they’ll achieve these ambitions,” explains Kian Goh to Science magazine. She's an urban planning student at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Planning scholars are by and large skeptical of plans for smart or sustainable cities ‘from scratch’”.

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Breaking a few eggs

Environmentalists also question the increased deforestation in the jungle of Borneo, where the new city will be located.

Image: Joyce Romero / Unsplash

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Jungle dangers

Ecologist Alex Lechner, of Monash University in Indonesia, spoke with Science magazine that the establishment of the new capital is “likely to be far greater than the direct impacts within the city boundaries unless carefully managed”.

Image: Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

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The Brazilian example

Lechner puts the example of Brazil and how the highways connecting São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to the capital city of Brasília increased deforestation in the Amazon jungle.

Pictured: Brasília.

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Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

Also, in the overall scheme of things, it doesn't seem that moving to Jakarta would change much. “Jakarta will still be the economic center of Indonesia (…) and still have to take on its social issues and environmental issues,” Goh comments to Science.

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Indonesia's new capital

Indonesia announced the approval of its new capital back in January and will be built in stages until 2045.

Image: Eko Herwantoro / Unsplash

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By 2024

The Southeast Asian country, made up of 270 million people living spread over 17,000 islands, no longer will be governed by Jakarta (pictured) starting in 2024.

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Pollution and overpopulation

Jakarta, the current capital, is a city of 10 million people with a myriad of environmental and overpopulation problems. The Indonesian government hopes the relocation will help to alleviate this situation.

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Jakarta is sinking

Another reason for the relocation, as cited by The Guardian, is that Jakarta is sinking due to excessive extraction of groundwater.

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10 inches every year

Northern parts of the city are submerged up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) every year. The Indonesian government estimates it will cost 40 billion US dollars to save Jakarta from sinking.

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Floods

Constant floods are also a problem in the current capital of Indonesia. Science magazine reports that 25% of the capital area will be submerged by 2050.

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Covid-19 delay

President Joko Widodo announced the project in his State of the Union address in 2019. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, any further plans were delayed until this year.

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Welcome to Nusantara

In January 2022 the president announced that the new capital will be called Nusantara, which roughly translates to “archipelago” in Old Javanese.

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East Kalimantan

The plan would seek to move the capital from Jakarta, located on the island of Java, to the region of Kalimantan, in Borneo.

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In middle of the jungle

One of the requirements for the location of the new capital was that it needed to be located far from earthquakes and volcanoes. It's in this jungle where the new capital will be erected.

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Endangered habitat

However, this also has drawn criticism as it would affect the habitat of many animals, particularly primates.

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Java is full

Moving out of the island of Java, where half of 270 million Indonesians live, was also a necessity due to the overpopulation.

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10 years and over 32 billlion dollars

The plan is to fully move out to the new city within 10 years. Construction is expected to start in March 2022. Moving the capital will cost 32,4 billion US dollars, according to the BBC.

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Brazilian innovation

The Indonesian government was inspired by the establishment of Brasília in 1960.

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Leaving Rio

Located in central Brazil, Brasília was meant to balance out the power and influence of coastal metropolises such as Rio de Janeiro (seen here in the 1990s), the former capital, and São Paulo.

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Flight to modernity

The modernistic Brazilian capital was designed in the shape of an airplane by Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer and Joaquim Cardozo.

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Impracticality

However, Brasília has drawn criticism due to its impracticality. For instance, the makers of the planned city expected most residents would have a car.

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Putrajaya

Indonesia isn't the first Asian country to move its national capital to a new, planned city. Neighboring Malaysia changed its capital from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya (pictured) in 2001.

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King and Parliament

However, the King of Malaysia and the country’s legislature still reside in Kuala Lumpur.

Pictured: The National Palace of Malaysia.

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Naypyidaw

Meanwhile, Myanmar changed its national capital from the historical Yangon (pictured) to Naypyidaw in 2005. The name literally means “Royal Capital”.

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Good-bye, Seoul

South Korea also joins the club with Sejong, which is expected to fully replace Seoul by 2030.

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Sejong The Great

The new South Korean capital is named after 15th century King Sejong The Great, who among other innovations created the Korean alphabet.

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Abuja

Africa also has had its share of planned national capitals. Abuja became the capital of Nigeria in 1991, replacing Lagos (pictured).

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An independent capital

Another reason that Nigeria established Abuja as its national capital was having an independent city, outside the control of the three major ethnic groups that inhabit the country.

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Canberra

Then there's the case of Canberra, in Australia.

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Compromise

Declared capital in 1927, the city was a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in the country.

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Washington, D.C.

Probably the most famous planned national capital is Washington, D.C., which has been the capital of the United States since 1790.

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The War of 1812

British soldiers coming from Canada invaded and burned down Washington, D.C. in 1814. It was the only time a US capital has been taken over by a foreign power.

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A century in the making

It took several decades to make the city we know today. When the Capitol Dome was finished in the 1860s, Washington, D.C. still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation.

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All but one president

Funny enough, the only US president to never live in Washington, D.C. was George Washington himself.

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