Why Nusantara? Name of Indonesia's new capital steeped in history

There are subtleties in the meaning of the Javanese term, as Indonesia undertakes a shift from Jakarta, once known as Batavia, Jayakarta and Sunda Kelapa

A computer-generated image of Indonesia’s future presidential palace. PHOTO: AFP
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On Jan 17, the Indonesian government unveiled the name for the country's new capital to be built in eastern Kalimantan - Nusantara. Chosen by President Joko Widodo from among 80 suggestions received by his administration from linguists and historians, it is a name rich in historical, cultural and even political resonance.

Minister for National Development Planning Suharso Monoarfa told Parliament that the president had settled on Nusantara because "it captures the maritime concept for a nation made up of many islands unified by the sea". He added that it also reflects the country's pluralism in which different ethnic groups come together as a nation.

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