Indonesia is to switch its capital to the province of East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo following concerns that Jakarta is overcrowded and sinking below sea level.
Indonesia president Joko Widodo tweeted earlier this week that after reviewing studies over the last three years, the capital city will be shifted.
In a televised speech to parliament Widodo went on to explain that Jakarta would cease to be Indonesia’s capital and that the new location would reflect “modern Indonesia”.
Indonesian TV news showed him inspecting a stretch of rural land next to a major road while talking about the development, giving the impression the city will be built from scratch.
However Widodo did not specify the exact location of the new capital – leaving Indonesians guessing.
“The location is very strategic — it’s in the centre of Indonesia and close to urban areas,” the president was quoted as saying in an Indonesian TV interview.
“The burden Jakarta is holding right now is too heavy as the centre of governance, business, finance, trade and services.”
Jakarta is home to 10m people but around three times that number live close to the city, provoking huge daily traffic jams estimated to cost the economy millions per day.
Jakarta is located on a swamp on the island of Java, which has contributed to it becoming the fastest sinking city in the world.
Some parts it are sinking by as much as 25cm a year and almost half of it sits below sea level, according to the BBC.
Widodo was quoted as saying the new, unnamed city would face “minimal” risk of natural disasters.
The islands of Java, Sulawesi, Bali and Lombok have experienced tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the last two years.
However environmentalists have expressed concerns over the potential location of the new city.
Kalimantan is one of the few places on Earth where endangered orangutans live in the wild.
Indonesian newspapers have reported that the project to build the new capital will cost approximately $33bn and construction would begin as early as 2021.
Separately, South Korea has sought to change its capital but ended up having to settle for shifting administrative offices to Sejong – around 75 miles southeast of Seoul – when the plan to officially relocate the capital hit legal barriers.
And Egypt is building a new desert capital city between the Nile and the Suez Canal.
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