Vast Indonesia settles on ‘Nusantara’ name for new capital city, which means ‘archipelago’

The approved final design of the Presidential Palace in the new capital city in East Kalimantan. Photo: Instagram/@nyoman_nuarta
The approved final design of the Presidential Palace in the new capital city in East Kalimantan. Photo: Instagram/@nyoman_nuarta

President Joko Widodo has picked the name Nusantara for Indonesia’s planned new capital city, an official announced today, which literally translates to “archipelago.”

The name encapsulates Indonesia’s geographic makeup, as the nation is indeed a sprawling archipelago comprising some 17,000 islands. Therefore, we’re still internally conflicted if the Nusantara name is deep or unimaginative.

At any rate, the announcement was made by National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) head Suharso Monoarfa at a meeting with parliament today. Suharso said President Jokowi settled on the name from a shortlist, after almost going on a variation that would have included the name Jaya, which means glory.

“There were more than 80 names, but eventually Nusantara was picked without the Jaya,” Suharso said.

He added that the government consulted experts in history, culture, and language before settling on the name.

The site for Nusantara is located in East Kalimantan near the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda. President Jokowi’s administration announced in 2019 that Indonesia’s capital city would be moved away from traffic-clogged, polluted, and sinking Jakarta.

The government aims to start moving to Nusantara in 2024 despite concerns of pandemic-driven delays. The design of the new Presidential Palace, which features a massive Garuda structure, was approved earlier this month.

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