Bandung is the capital of West Java province in Indonesia, the country’s third largest city, and second largest metropolitan area in Indonesia with a population of 2.4 million in 2010. Located 768 metres (2,520 ft) above sea level, approximately 140 km south east of Jakarta, Bandung has cooler temperatures year-round than most other Indonesian cities. The city lies on a river basin surrounded by volcanic mountains. This topography provides a good natural defense system, which was the primary reason for the Dutch East Indies government’s plan to move the colony capital from Batavia to Bandung.
The Dutch colonials first established tea plantations around the mountains in the eighteenth century, and a road was constructed to connect the plantation area to the capital (180 km or 112 miles to the northwest). The Dutch inhabitants of the city demanded establishment of a municipality (gemeente), which was granted in 1906, and Bandung gradually developed itself into a resort city for plantation owners. Luxurious hotels, restaurants, cafes and European boutiques were opened, hence the city was nicknamed Parijs van Java(Dutch: “The Paris of Java”).
Since Indonesia achieved independence in 1945, the city has experienced rapid development and urbanisation, transforming Bandung from idyllic town into a dense 16,500 people/km2 metropolitan area, a living space for over 2 million people. Natural resources have been exploited excessively, particularly by conversion of protected upland area into highland villas and real estate. Although the city has encountered many problems (ranging from waste disposal, floods to chaotic traffic system, etc.), Bandung still attracts immigrants and weekend travelers.
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