New Indonesian Capital Has Name

Densely populated Jakarta
Densely populated Jakarta (source)

Indonesia is planning on building a new capital city, and now the new capital has a name. From more than 80 possible names, President Joko Widodo selected Nusantara, which means ‘archipelago’ in Javanese.

Indonesia is shifting its capital to solve several problems. The current capital, Jakarta, is on the island of Java, which has long been the focus of economic development. However, Jakarta has become overcrowded, leading to traffic congestion and air pollution. It is also sinking quickly due to the drawing of groundwater. Some parts of the city fall as much as 25cm per year.

The new capital will be on the island of Borneo. The government hopes moving will ease population pressure in Jakarta. At the same time, they hope a new location for the capital will help spread development and wealth more widely across Indonesia’s main islands. The name Nusantara is meant to reflect this broader focus.

Environmentalists are concerned the building of a new capital will endanger Borneo’s precious rainforests which are home to the world-famous orangutans and other unique animals. Other critics have suggested the new name is confusing because it is sometimes used to refer to the whole of Indonesia. Nevertheless, construction of the new city is expected to start this year, and the government wants to officially shift the capital in 2024.


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Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Archipelago (n) - a group of islands
  • Javanese (n) - native language of the people of Java
  • Congestion (n) - being blocked or crowded
  • Drawing (n) - pulling, extracting
  • Groundwater (n) - water that comes from the ground
  • Ease (v) - to make weaker
  • Reflect (v) - to show something
  • Broader (adj) - wider, including a wide range of things
  • Endanger (v) - to put in danger
  • Critic (n) - a person who criticizes


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What is your country’s capital city? How many people live there? Is it in a good location for a capital, or would a change be good?
  2. How does the name of Indonesia’s future capital, Nusantara, sound to you?
  3. Have you ever been to Indonesia? What was it like? If not, are you interested in going there?
  4. Does your city or town have a lot of traffic? What could be done to reduce the amount of traffic?
  5. How is the air where you live? What are the sources of air pollution?
  6. Is economic development focused on one part of your country, or is it spread evenly around? Which parts need more development?
  7. What are the potential downsides and upsides of moving the Indonesian capital?
  8. Should we be concerned about the environmental impact of the construction of the new city?
  9. Where does your community’s water come from? Is the water supply sustainable and safe?
  10. The president of Indonesia chose the name of the new capital city. Do you think it was his right to choose? Should the name have been chosen in any other way?