Yogyakarta Special Region (Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, DIY) is officially one of Indonesia’s 33 provinces. Yogyakarta is one of the foremost cultural centers of Java. This region is located at the foot of the active Merapi volcano, Yogyakarta was in the 16th and 17th centuries the seat of the mighty Javanese empire of Mataram from which present day Yogyakarta has the best inherited of traditions. The city itself has a special charm, which seldom fails to captivate the visitor.
This province is one of the most densely populated areas of Indonesia. The city came into being in 1755, after the Mataram division into the Sultanates of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo). Gamelan, classical and contemporary Javanese dances, wayang kulit (leather puppet), theater and other expressions of traditional art will keep the visitor spellbound. Local craftsmen excel in arts such batiks, silver and leather works. Next to the traditional, contemporary art has found fertile soil in Yogya’s culture oriented society. ASRI, the Academy of Fine Arts is the center of arts and Yogyakarta itself has given its name to an important school of modern painting in Indonesia, perhaps best personified by the famed Indonesian impressionist, the late Affandi.
Yogyakarta is often called the main gateway to the Central Java as where it is geographically located. It stretches from Mount Merapi to the Indian Ocean. There is daily air service to Yogya from Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali as well as regular train service and easy accessibility by road. Yogyakarta is commonly considered as the modern cultural of Central Java. Although some may prefer Solo as a good runner up, Yogyakarta remains the clear front-runner for traditional dance, Wayang (traditional puppetry) and music.
Yogyakarta has more than just culture though. It is a very lively city and a shopper’s delight. The main road, Malioboro Street, is always crowded and famous for its night street food-culture and street vendors. Many tourist shops and cheap hotels are concentrated along this street or in the adjoining tourist area such Sosrowijayan Street.
The key attraction of Yogyakarta is ‘Kraton’ (the Sultan’s Palace). The Sultan’s palace is the centre of Yogya’s traditional life and despite the advance of modernity; it still emanates the spirit of refinement, which has been the hallmark of Yogya’s art for centuries. This vast complex of decaying buildings was built in the 18th century, and is actually a walled city within the city with luxurious pavilions and in which the current Sultan still resides. Yogyakarta is also the only major city, which still has traditional ‘Becak’ (rickshaw-style) transport.
• The History of Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta was founded in 1755 and was the capital of Mataram kingdom when the Dutch came along. The Dutch granted the kings by title Sultan of Yogyakarta territory. Yogyakarta was also the scene of Indonesia’s most successful rebellions against the Dutch – firstly with Prince Diponegoro who waged a holy war against colonial rule from 1825 to 1830, and also serving as the capital of the newly independent republic after World War II when the Dutch reoccupied Batavia (Jakarta).
People have lived in Central Java and Yogyakarta area since immemorial time as over the centuries they have been attracted by the rich soil caused by the numerous volcanic eruptions. The earliest recorded history dares from the 9th century and was dominated by Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms that gave rise to the magnificent temples such as Prambanan, Ratu Boko, Kalasan, Sambisari and Borobudur found in this area. Yogyakarta itself dates back to the 18th century. In the early 18th century, Pakubuwono II ruled the Muslim Mataram Kingdom of the time. After he passed away, there was a conflict between his son and his brother, which was encouraged by the Dutch who were trying to colonize the region on a ‘divide and rule’ basis. The Kingdom was divided into two regions namely Surakarta Hadiningrat kingdom under Sunan Pakubuwono III rule, and Nyayogyakarta Hadiningrat kingdom under Sultan Hamengku Buwono I rule. He was the founder of the present line of Sultans who still live in the Kraton and play important role in Javanese culture. The second kingdom was later called Yogyakarta, now better known as Yogyakarta.
After the independence of the Republic of Indonesia was proclaimed, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX and Sri Paku Alam VIII launched a statement that the Kasultanan and Kadipaten (the two royal regions), belonged to Republic of Indonesia as a part of the whole area of Indonesia Republic. Since then, it has been known as Yogyakarta Special Region and was given a provincial status in 1950 in recognition of its important role in it fighting for the independence.
Yogyakarta Special Region is geographically located almost equidistant from Indonesia’s two most important international gateways, about 600 km from Jakarta and 1000 km from Bali. Yogyakarta also has excellent transport connections by bus, train or plane to the rest of Java, Sumatra, Bali and Lombok. Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto Airport is in the process of changing its status in order to receive not only domestics’ flights from Bali and Jakarta, but also direct charter and scheduled flights from other countries.
Geographically, Yogyakarta Special Province is situated in the Southern part of Central Java and lies between 7 degree 33′ and 8 degree 12′, South altitude between 110 degree and 50′ East longitude. Some regencies of central Java Province surround the administrative boundaries of this region: Southern East: Wonogiri Regency Eastern: Klaten RegencyNorthwestern: Magelang Regency Western: Purworejo Regency The Indonesian Ocean borders the Southern part of Yogyakarta. The borderline of the seashore stretches from West to East of which the length is around 100 km, started from Congot Beach in Kulon Progo Regency and ended at Sadeng Beach in Gunung Kidul Regency.
Because of its location, Yogyakarta is strategically positioned for the economic activity network in Java as well as for the tourist destination area. The special region of Yogyakarta lies midway on the axis of several main tourist destination areas, Jakarta and West Java westward, Central Java northward, East Java and Bali eastward. It is linked by regular rail, road and air services to other parts of Indonesian archipelago.
•Climate and Weather in Yogyakarta
The Yogyakarta Special Region lays approximately 7 South of the equator line and is bathed in tropical; sunshine along the year. This region has a tropic climate the daily atmosphere feels a little bit hot and humid. These are only two seasons along the year, the wet or rainy seasons and dry monsoon. Usually the wet seasons begin at September and lasts about August. Generally there is no rainfalls from may to August and there fore the atmosphere feels hot and humid on the day and cool in the night and early morning. The monthly rain falling Yogyakarta varies between 3mm and 496mm in which those above 300mm take place during the month of January up to April. The heaviest rainfall usually occurs in February while the lowest commonly happens between May and October Average annually rainfall is about 1,900.
•Populations of Yogyakarta
Based on 2000, the total population of Yogyakarta special Region amounted to 3.311.812. Yogyakarta Municipality that has 461,800 inhabitants spread over 32,50 kilometers or the average population density is thus over 14,200 persons per square kilometer. The least densely populated districts is in Gunung Kidul regency which has 720.643 inhabitants and cover 1,485 square kilometers or the density rate is 485 persons per square kilometer. Since a very long time ago the Provincial territory of Yogyakarta Special Region and its surrounding has been decently populated.
The majority residents of Yogyakarta Special Region are Javanese whose language derives from ancient Sanskrit. However, as Yogyakarta is considered to be “Indonesia’s academic city” due to the numerous centers for higher learning, many of the inhabitants are student who come from all over Indonesia to study.
•Culture of Yogyakarta
The culture Yogyakarta province with its status as a special region lies in the Southern part of Central Java, in the heartland of Javanese culture. As the former capital and the center of several kingdoms in the past, this region and its people are very rich in a variety of cultures. It is widely known from to historical records that the civilization, art and culture had developed well in the center of those kingdoms respectively in the Ancient Mataram Kingdom (8th – 10th Century) era, the second Mataram Kingdom (17th – 18th Century) and Sultanate Ngayogyokarto from the mid of 18th Century up today.
It should be noted that the cultural heritage from the past includes the magnificent temples, the ruins of palaces and monasteries, the various kind of traditions, cultural events, traditional folk and performing arts, architecture and other traditional activities. It is important to note that this is all part of the living culture of Yogyakarta, color of daily activities of live and the local inhabitants behavior, particularly the Javanese community with its traditional way of life and customs. Therefore, because of its culture richness and heritage, Yogyakarta has long been known as the cradle of Javanese culture.
The other legendary name for Yogyakarta City, among the elders as well as the youth generation that is the City of Art and Culture. Traditional and modern exhibition are held almost every day and night about the art of theater, pantomime, music, classic and contemporary dances, poems, etc. Those are flow in the heart of the city. Even more, there are abundant of cultural ceremony, such as Sekaten, Gunungan, Labuhan, Malioboro Fair, etc, which make the city has high value of tradition, art, and culture.