Ambon, Maluku

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This article is about a city in Maluku province of Indonesia. For the island, see Ambon Island. For other meaning of Ambon, see Ambon (disambiguation).
Kota Ambon
Official seal of Kota Ambon
Motto: Bersatu Manggurebe Maju
Kota Ambon is located in Indonesia
Kota Ambon
Kota Ambon
Located in Indonesia
Coordinates: 3°42′S 128°10′E / 3.700°S 128.167°E / -3.700; 128.167
Country Indonesia
Province Maluku
Incorporated 7 September 1575
 • Mayor Drs. Markus Jacob Papilaja, M.S.
 • Vice Mayor Dra. Olivia Ch. Latuconsina-Salampessy
 • Total 377 km2 (146 sq mi)
Elevation 3 m (10 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 310,241
 • Density 820/km2 (2,100/sq mi)
Area code(s) (+62) 911
Ambon and Lease Islands (Uliasers) en.png

Ambon (2010 pop. 330,335[1]) is the main city and seaport of Ambon Island, and is the capital of Maluku province of Indonesia. It is one of the largest cities in eastern Indonesia. Ambon has an airport, and is home to the state-owned Pattimura University, a state university, and the Indonesian Christian University of Maluku (UKIM), a private Protestant university, though both were seriously damaged during the violence in 2000–2002.


Colonial era[edit]

Ambon was colonized by Portugal in 1526. The Portuguese were driven out by the Dutch in 1609. Except for brief periods of British rule, the island remained under Dutch control until Indonesia's independence in 1945.

During the Dutch period, Ambon was the seat of the Dutch resident and military commander of the Maluku Islands. The town was protected by Fort Victoria, and a 1911 Encyclopædia characterized it as "a clean little town with wide streets, well planted". The population was divided into two classes, orang burger (citizens) and orang negri (villagers), the former being a class of native origin enjoying certain privileges conferred on their ancestors by the old Dutch East India Company. There were also, besides the Dutch, some Arabs, Chinese and a few Portuguese settlers.

On 22 December 1902, the Apostolic Prefecture of Dutch New Guinea was established in the city, later to be promoted as the Diocese of Amboina.

Indonesian military forces evacuate refugees from Ambon.

Ambon Island was the site of a major Dutch naval base, captured by the Japanese in 1942. Ambon was a center of Christian missionary activity, and Ambon and the surrounding islands have many Christians as well as the Muslims that predominate in most of Indonesia.

Conflicts since independence[edit]

In 1950 Ambon was the center of an uprising against Indonesian rule, caused by the rebellion of Republic of the South Moluccas. Indonesia reasserted control just in few weeks.

In April and May 1958 during the Permesta rebellion in North Sulawesi, the USA supported and supplied the rebels. Pilots from a Taiwan-based CIA front organisation, Civil Air Transport, flying CIA B-26 Invader aircraft, repeatedly bombed and machine-gunned targets in and around Ambon. On 27 April a CIA raid set fire to a military command post, a fuel dump and a Royal Dutch Shell complex.[2] The attack on Shell was deliberate: the CIA had orders to hit foreign commercial interests in order to drive foreign trade away from Indonesia and undermine its economy.[3] The next day, the same CIA pilot bombed Shell interests at Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on Borneo, which persuaded Shell to suspend tanker services from there.[4]

On 28 April a CIA air raid damaged an Indonesian Army barracks next to a marketplace.[5] On 30 April a CIA air raid hit the airstrip.[6] On 7 May a CIA air raid attacked Ambon airstrip, seriously damaging a Douglas C-47 Skytrain and an Indonesian Air Force North American P-51 Mustang and setting fire to a number of fuel drums.[7] On 8 May a CIA B-26 tried to bomb an Indonesian Navy gunboat in Ambon harbour.[8] Its bomb missed but it then machine-gunned the boat, wounding two crew.[8] The Indonesian National Armed Forces reinforced Ambon City's anti-aircraft defences with a number of 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine guns.[8] On 9 May a CIA B-26 attacked the city again.[8] The machine-gunners returned fire and an Indonesian Air Force P-51 Mustang chased the B-26, but it escaped.[8]

On 15 May a CIA B-26 attacked a small ship, the Naiko, in Ambon Bay.[9] Naiko was merchant ship that the Indonesian Government had pressed into military service, and she was bringing a company of Ambonese troops home from East Java.[10] A CIA bomb hit the Naiko '​s engine room, killing one crew member and 16 infantrymen[10] and setting the ship on fire.[9] The B-26 then attacked Ambon city, aiming for the barracks. Its first bomb missed and exploded in a market-place next door.[9] The next landed in the barracks compound but bounced and exploded near an ice factory.[9] The B-26 in the May air raids was flown by a CAT pilot called Allen Pope.[10] On 18 May Pope attacked Ambon again. First he raided the airstrip again, destroying the C-47 and P-51 that he had damaged on 7 May.[11] Then he flew west of the city and tried to attack one of a pair of troop ships being escorted by the Indonesian Navy.[12] Indonesian forces shot down the B-26 but Pope and his Indonesian radio operator survived and were captured.[13] Pope's capture immediately exposed the level of CIA support for the Permesta rebellion. Embarrassed, the Eisenhower administration quickly ended CIA support for Permesta and withdrew its agents and remaining aircraft from the conflict.[14]

As part of the transmigration program in the 1980s, the Suharto government relocated many migrants, most of them Muslim, from densely overpopulated Java.[citation needed]

Between 1999 and 2002, Ambon was at the centre of sectarian conflict across the Maluku Islands.[15][16] There was further religious violence in 2011.[17]


The city is divided into five districts (kecamatan), tabulated below with their 2010 Census population.

Name Population
Census 2010
Nusawiwe 89,866
Sirimau 140,064
Teluk Ambon 38,451
Baguala 53,472
Leitimur Selatan
(South Leitimur)

Places of interest[edit]

  • Monument of Pattimura, Lapangan Merdeka
  • Monument of Christina Martha Tiahahu, Karang Panjang
  • Ambon Plaza
  • Natsepa beach
  • Santai beach
  • Pintu Kota beach
  • Galala-Poka Ferry crossing
  • Batu Merah
  • Ambon Bay at sunset
  • Museum Siwalima at Batu Capeu
  • Pukul Sapu Dance at Mamala and Morela (each Muslim's Idul Qurban)


  1. ^ "the Republic of Indonesia". Geo Hive. 
  2. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 115.
  3. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 116.
  4. ^ David Ormsby-Gore, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1958-06-11). |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: Commons. col. 202–203. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  5. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 117.
  6. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 118.
  7. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 121.
  8. ^ a b c d e Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 122.
  9. ^ a b c d Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 129.
  10. ^ a b c Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 128.
  11. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 136.
  12. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, pp. 136–137.
  13. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, pp. 139, 141.
  14. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 143.
  15. ^ "Ambon rioting leaves 100 dead in Indonesia". World Socialist Website. 1999-01-30. 
  16. ^ Guerin, Bill (2002-02-15). "The Spice Islands legacy of violence". Asia Times. 
  17. ^ Rayda, Nivell (2011-10-02). "Religious Strife a Daily Reality in Ambon". Jakarta Globe. 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 3°42′18″S 128°10′12″E / 3.705°S 128.17°E / -3.705; 128.17