New Indonesian capital to be called Nusantara

President Joko Widodo (left) is seen visiting the site of the new Indonesian capital near Sepaku in East Kalimantan in this file picture from Dec 17, 2019. - AFP

JAKARTA (Xinhua): Indonesian President Joko Widodo has chosen Nusantara, or archipelago in English, as the name of the new national capital to be built on the country's Kalimantan island, a senior government official said Monday (Jan 17).

"I just received a direct confirmation from the president on Friday (Jan 14) and he said the new capital is named Nusantara," the country's National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa said during a meeting with the special committee for the new capital city's establishment at the House of Representatives in Central Jakarta.

The minister explained the reason for selecting Nusantara was because the name has been well known since a long time ago.

"It is iconic internationally, easy and it describes the archipelago of the Republic of Indonesia," Monoarfa said, adding, "And I think we all agree with the name Nusantara."

The plan to relocate the capital from the country's most populated island of Java was first announced by the government in April 2019.

Months later, Widodo announced two districts in East Kalimantan province, which are North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara, to be the site of the new capital city.

With an area of about 127,000sq km, East Kalimantan is home to more than 3.7 million people.

The ground-breaking of the construction project was initially expected to be conducted in August 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government to put it on hold.

The new capital will serve as the centre of government, while Jakarta the current capital city which is home to more than 10 million people, would remain the business and economic centre of Indonesia.

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