In Indonesian law, the term "city" (''kota'') is generally defined as the second-level administrative subdivision of the Republic of Indonesia, an equivalent to regency (''kabupaten''). The difference between a city and a regency is that a city has non-agricultural economic activities and a dense urban population, while a regency comprises predominantly rural areas and is larger in area than a city. However, Indonesia historically had several classifications of cities.

Historical classification


During the Dutch East Indies period, a city was governed as ''gemeente'' (municipality) since the decentralisation law in 1903. ''Gemeentee'' was a third-level subdivision, below ''residentie'' (residency) and ''gouvernement'' (governorate).

''Kota besar'' and ''kota kecil''

The terms ''kota besar'' (big city), and ''kota kecil'' (small city or town), were used since the implementation of the Act Number 22 of 1948. ''Kota Besar'' was an urban equivalent of ''kabupaten'' (regency), which was the country's second level subdivision, just below province. ''Kota kecil'', used for a small urban area, was the third-level division below regency and province.

''Kotaraya'', ''kotamadya'', and ''kotapraja''

According to the Act Number 18 of 1965, cities in Indonesia were classified into three: ''kotaraya'' (great city, first-level subdivision), ''kotamadya'' (medium city, second-level subdivision), and ''kotapraja'' (small city or town, third-level subdivision). ''Kotaraya'' is an equivalent of a province, ''kotamadya'' is an equivalent of a regency, while ''kotapraja'' is an equivalent of ''kecamatan'' (districts). Jakarta was the only city granted the ''kotaraya'' status, due to its function as the capital of Indonesia. The terms ''kotaraya'' and ''kotapraja'' had been abolished since 1974, and ''kotamadya'' was used for most of urban areas in Indonesia up to 1999. Jakarta continued to become the only urban area with a province status.


The term ''kota'' (city) has been implemented to substitute ''kotamadya'' since the post-Suharto era in Indonesia. ''Kota'' is headed by a mayor (''walikota''), whom is directly elected via elections to serve for a five-year term, which can be renewed for one further five-year term. Each ''kota'' is divided further into districts, more commonly known as ''kecamatan''.

Jakarta as a city

Jakarta, then known as Batavia, was the first city in the archipelago to be developed by the Dutch Empire. On the 4 March 1621, the first city government (''stad'') was created in Batavia, and on 1 April 1905, it became the very first ''geemente'' of the Dutch East Indies. Upon Indonesian independence, it remains as the city within the province of West Java. With the release of the Law Number 1 of 1957, Jakarta became the first provincial-level city in Indonesia. Although Jakarta is now written as a 'province' in Indonesian law products, it is still widely referred to as a city. The United Nations (UN) classifies Jakarta as a 'city' on its statistical database. The Special Capital Region of Jakarta consists of five 'administrative cities' and one 'administrative regency'. Unlike other actual cities in Indonesia, administrative cities in Jakarta are not self-governing, and were only created for bureaucracy purposes. The administrative cities do not have city councils, and their mayors were exclusively selected by the Governor of Jakarta without any public election. Ryas Rasyid, an Indonesian regional government expert, stated that Jakarta is a "province with a city management". Anies Baswedan, the 17th Governor of Jakarta, asserted that "Jakarta has only an area of 600 square kilometres. It is a city with the province status." Unlike other 33 Indonesian provinces whose governors work in a 'governor office', the governor of Jakarta works in a city hall (''Balai Kota DKI Jakarta'').

List of cities by date of incorporation

;Notes * Incorporated as Batavia * Incorporated as Kutaraja * Incorporated as TanjungkarangTelukbetung

See also

*City status *List of Indonesian cities by population *List of Indonesian cities by GDP


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