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This article is about the city. For the regency, see Semarang Regency.
"Samarang" redirects here. For the 1933 American action film, see Samarang (film).
Kota Semarang
The Tugu Muda represents the 5 days war in Semarang during Revolution
The Tugu Muda represents the 5 days war in Semarang during Revolution
Official seal of Semarang
Motto: Semarang Kota ATLAS
Semarang is located in Indonesia
Location of Semarang in Indonesia
Coordinates: 6°58′S 110°25′E / 6.967°S 110.417°E / -6.967; 110.417Coordinates: 6°58′S 110°25′E / 6.967°S 110.417°E / -6.967; 110.417
Country Indonesia
Province Central Java
 • Mayor Drs. H. Soemarmo HS, MSi
 • City 373.70 km2 (144.29 sq mi)
 • Metro 3,267.91 km2 (1,261.75 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (2010 Census)
 • City 2,067,254
 • Density 5,500/km2 (14,000/sq mi)
 • Metro 6,041,830
 • Metro density 1,800/km2 (4,800/sq mi)
Time zone WIB (UTC+7)
Area code(s) +6224
License plate H

Semarang (pronounced [səˈmaraŋ]) is a city on the north coast of the island of Java, Indonesia. It is the capital and largest city of the province of Central Java.

It has an area of 373.70 square kilometres (144.29 sq mi) and a population of approximately 2 million people, making it Indonesia's sixth most populous city and the fifth largest Indonesian city after Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Medan. Greater Semarang (aka Kedungsapur) has a population of close to 6 million (see Greater Semarang section), and is located at 6°58′S 110°25′E / 6.967°S 110.417°E / -6.967; 110.417. A major port during the Dutch colonial era, and still an important regional center and port today, the city has a dominant Javanese population.


A Chinese house in Semarang at the turn of the 20th century

In 1678, Sunan Amangkurat II promised to give control of Semarang to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a part of a debt payment. In 1682, the Semarang state was founded by the Dutch colonial power. On 5 October 1705 after years of occupations, Semarang officially became a VOC city when Susuhunan Pakubuwono I made a deal to give extensive trade rights to the VOC in exchange of wiping out Mataram's debt. The VOC, and later, the Dutch East Indies government, established tobacco plantations in the region and built roads and railroads, making Semarang an important colonial trading centre.[citation needed]

NIS company head office (Gedung Lawang Sewu), Semarang, Dutch East Indies.

During VOC times Semarang had always been an important center of government for North Java, employing many Indo-European officials, until Daendels (1808–1811) simplified bureaucracy by eliminating this extra layer of officialdom. The city’s expansion declined until in 1830 when the Java War ended and export commerce via the north of Java picked up again.[citation needed]

The historic presence of a large Indo (Eurasian) community in the area of Semarang is also reflected by the fact a creole mix language called Javindo existed there.[1]

The Japanese military occupied the city, along with the rest of Java, in 1942, during the Pacific War of World War II. During that time, Semarang was headed by a military governor called a Shiko, and two vice governors known as Fuku Shiko. One of the vice governors was appointed from Japan, and the other was chosen from the local population.[citation needed]

After Indonesian independence in 1945, Semarang became the capital of Central Java province.[citation needed]

City planning of Semarang during Dutch colonial era[edit]

The era of Classical Indische Town (1678–1870)[edit]

Semarang was handed by the Sultan of Mataram to the Dutch East Indies in 1678. The city was pictured as a small settlement with a pious Muslim area called Kauman, a Chinese quarter, and a Dutch fortress. The fortress has a pentagonal form with only one gate in the south and five monitoring towers to protect the Dutch settlement from rebellion actions, segregating the spaces between Dutch settlement and other areas.[2] In fact, the city of Semarang was only referred to the Dutch quarter while the other ethnic settlement were considered as villages outside the city boundary. The city, known as de Europeeshe Buurt, was built in classical European style with church located in the centre, wide boulevards and streets skirted by beautiful villas.[3] According to Purwanto (2005),[4] the urban and architectural form of this settlement is very similar to the design principles applied in many Dutch cities, which begun to concern on the urban beautification.

Due to the long and costly Java War, there were not much of funding from the Dutch East Indies government, effecting the development of Semarang. The majority of land was used for rice fields and the only small improvement was the development of surrounding fortress. Although less developed, Semarang has a fairly arranged city system, in which urban activities were concentrated along the river and the settlement was linked to a market where different ethnic groups met to trade. The existence of the market, in the later years, become a primary element and a generator of urban economic growths.[5]

An important influence on urban growth was the Great Mail Road project in the 1847, which connected all the cities in northern coast of Central and East Java and made Semarang as the trade centre of agricultural production.[6] The project was soon followed by the development of the Netherlands Indies railway and the connecting roads into the inner city of Semarang at the end of 19th century.[5] Colombijn (2002)[6] marked the development as the shift of urban functions, from the former river orientation to all services facing the roads.

The growth of the modern city (1870–1922)[edit]

Aerial picture of Old Semarang area in 1920s.
Old locomotive next to the Lawang Sewu building

Improved communication, as the result of the Mail and Railway projects, had brought an economic booming for the city in the 1870s. There were hospital, churches, hotels, and large houses built along the new main roads; Bojongscheweg, Pontjolscheweg, and Mataram street, causing denser population in the ethnic settlements and creating the urban kampong.[3] There was also a city tram connecting the inner city to and fro the suburbs in 1892. The government of Dutch East Indies had allowed private sectors to invest capital in agribusiness and generated various forms of employment, which affected on the deformation of the former Dutch quarter into offices area.[citation needed]

Urban growth had made acutely dense the urban kampong, reaching the number of 1000 inhabitants per hectare and degrading the quality of living condition.[7] In this early 20th century, mortality rate was very high due to the overcrowding and lack of hygiene that triggered the invasion of cholera and tuberculosis.[8] Cobban (1993)[7] noted the ethical movement of kampongverbetering led by Henry Tillema in 1913 and the concern of the Advisor for Decentralisation for kampong improvement through the betterment of public toilets, drainage, and the planning of public housing. The municipal council of Semarang had also seen the importance to separate residential area from the city as working place.[citation needed]

In 1917, a healthy housing project was implemented in the Southern part of Semarang called Candi Baru. Thomas Karsten, the advisor for city planning, transformed the concept of ethnic segregation that divided previous urban settlements into a new housing district plan based on economic classes. Although practically the three ethnic groups were also divided into three economic classes where the Dutch and rich Chinese occupied the largest lots in the housing district,[3] Karsten had effectively emerged the developed district by integrating the road network, introducing newly improved public wash and bathing, squares and sporting facilities that can be utilised communally.[9] Following the Candi Baru, there were three other housing plans between 1916–1919 to accommodate 55% population increase in Semarang; 45,000 Javanese, 8500 Chinese and 7000 Europeans. Karsten marked a new approach to town planning which emphasis on the aesthetic, practical and social requirements, articulated not in terms of racial terms but economic zones.[9]

Driven by economic growth and spatial city planning, the city had doubled in size and expanded to the south by the 1920s, creating a nucleus of a metropolis where multi-ethnic groups lived and traded in the city. The villages in the suburbs such as Jomblang and Jatingaleh steadily became the satellite towns of Semarang, more populated with a bigger market area. Before the invasion of Japan in 1942, Semarang had already become the capital of Central Java Province, as the result of trade and industrial success and spatial planning.[3]


Semarang is located on the northern coast of Java. The northern part of the city is built on the coastal plain while the southern parts, known as Candi Lama and Candi Baru, are on higher ground. Two Dutch-built aqueducts run through the city to control the yearly flood, one on the east side and one through the west side, essentially dividing the city into three major areas.


Semarang features a tropical rainforest climate that borders on a tropical monsoon climate. The city features distinctly wetter and drier months, with June through August being the driest months. However, in none of these months does average precipitation fall below 60 mm, hence the tropical rainforest categorization. Semarang on average sees approximately 2800 mm of rain annually. Average temperatures in the city are relatively consistent, hovering around 28 degrees Celsius.

Climate data for Semarang
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29
Average low °C (°F) 25
Precipitation mm (inches) 430
Source: Weatherbase [10]

Flood control[edit]

In August 2011, a 421 metres (1,381 ft) tunnel dodger at Kreo river has been finished and Jatibarang Dam construction can begin, with completion targeted for July 2013. The dam is planned to ease 230 cubic metres (8,100 cu ft) per second of flood water and will generate 1.5 Megawatts of electricity, provide a drinking water resource and a boost to tourism.[11]


Indonesian teak furniture in the city center

The western part of the city is home to many industrial parks and factories. The port of Semarang is located on the north coast and it is the main shipping port for the province of Central Java. Many small manufacturers are located in Semarang, producing goods such as textiles, furniture, and processed foods. Large companies, such as Kubota and Coca-Cola, also have plants in Semarang or its outer towns.[citation needed]

Most stores in Semarang are small, family-owned businesses. Home consumer spending is divided between traditional wet markets ("Pasar") for locally-sourced fresh produce (fish, meat, vegetables) and western-style malls and supermarkets for manufactured, finished products (dry goods). Pasar Johar, Pasar Gang Baru, Pasar Jatingaleh, and Pasar Jati are examples of traditional wet markets. Hypermart, ADA Swalayan, Giant, and now Carrefour are the larger supermarket/department store chains in Semarang. Carrefour, a French chain, opened its first store in Central Java at DP Mall in Semarang. The other two malls are Ciputra Mall and the Java Supermall. A fourth mall, Paragon, is the largest shopping center in Central Java Province.[citation needed]



Semarang is served by Achmad Yani International Airport. As of 2015, the only direct international flights are to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.


Taxis are widely available. The primary means of public transportation is by minibus, called "bis." Semarang's largest bus terminals are Mangkang and Terboyo.

A bus rapid transit serves Semarang, called TransSemarang.

Semarang has a toll road, Jalan Tol or the Semarang Artery. Semarang-Solo Toll Road is under construction.

Semarang is on Indonesian National Route 1 that connects it to Merak and Ketapang (Banyuwangi). Indonesian National Route 14 toward Bawen starts here.


Semarang Old Town.

Semarang was connected to Surakarta (Solo) by a rail line in 1870.[12]

There are two large train stations in Semarang: Semarang Poncol and Semarang Tawang.


The main seaport is the Tanjung Mas seaport.

The Great Mosque of Central Java, the largest mosque in the city.


Semarang is home to several notable universities and high schools. Two of them are the state-owned Diponegoro University and Universitas Negeri Semarang (or, in English, the Semarang State University). Other notable universities are Semarang University or USM, Soegijapranata Catholic University, Sultan Agung Islamic University, and Dian Nuswantoro University. Semarang has some medical schools that offer schools of medicine, nursing, etc., such as Faculty of Medicine Diponegoro University, Faculty of Medicine UNISSULA, and Faculty of Medicine UNIMUS. Among the others is Karangturi, a national private school which has facilities for children in kindergarten through senior high school. Karangturi is known for having a high proportion of Chinese-Indonesian students.

Sights, temples and monuments[edit]

Blenduk Church, the oldest church in Central Java.

The Sam Poo Kong temple was built in honour of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng He who visited the area in 1405. A 10.7 metres (35 ft) tall bronze statue about Rp.1 billion ($115,000) is to be constructed.[13]

Semarang River[edit]

The city is constructing the Semarang River at Banjir Kanal Barat (Garang River) near Karangayu Bridge..[14]


Lumpia Semarang.

Semarang is widely known for its Bandeng presto (pressure-cooked milkfish), Lumpia, Wingko, Tahu Gimbal,and Ganjel Rel. Semarang has also been called 'The city of Jamu' because it is an important centre for the production of jamu which are a wide range of Indonesian herbal medicines that are very popular across Indonesia.[15]

Greater Semarang[edit]

Suburbanization has occurred to a great extent in Java, and Semarang is no exception. Greater Semarang was initially defined as Semarang, Semarang Regency, the newly carved Salatiga city, Kendal Regency, and Demak Regency.[16] The more recent official definition (all of which have acronmys) is called Kedungsapur,[17] an acronym for "Ke"ndal+"D"emak+"Ung"aran+"Sa"latiga+"Pur"wodadi. This includes Ungaran (already counted as Semarang Regency) and Purwodadi, Grobogan Regency. It is Indonesia's 4th largest metropolitan area, after Greater Jakarta, Gerbangkertosusila (Surabaya), and Bandung Metropolitan Area.[citation needed]

Administrative division Area (km²) Population (2010 Census) Population density (/km²)
Semarang Municipality 373.70 2,067,254 5,531.85
Semarang Regency 981.95 930,727 947.83
Salatiga Municipality 56,781 177,088 3,118.79
Kendal Regency 1,002.23 900,313 898.31
Demak Regency 897.43 1,055,579 1,176.2
Grobogan Regency 1,975.865 1,413,328 715.3
Greater Semarang 5,287.96 6,544,289 1,238.83

Notable people born in Semarang[edit]

Sister Cities[edit]


  1. ^ De Gruiter, Miel. "Javindo, a contact language in pre-war Semarang". (Peter Bakker & Maarten Mous. Mixed Languages: 15 Case Studies in Language Intertwining. Amsterdam: IFOTT. 1994.) pp. 151–159.
  2. ^ Purwanto, L. M. F. (2005). Kota Kolonial Lama Semarang. Dimensi Teknik Arsitektur, 33(1), 27-33
  3. ^ a b c d Pratiwo. (2005). The City Planning of Semarang 1900–1970. In F. Colombijn, M. Barwegen, P. Basundoro & J. A. Khusyairi (Eds.), Old City, New City: The History of the Indonesian City Before and After Independence. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Ombak.
  4. ^ Purwanto, L. M. F. (2005). Kota Kolonial Lama Semarang. Dimensi Teknik Arsitektur, 33(1), 27-33.
  5. ^ a b Nas, P. J. M., & Pratiwo. (2002). Java and De Groote Postweg, La Grande Route, the Great Mail Road, Jalan Raya Pos’. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, 158(4), 707–725.
  6. ^ a b Colombijn, F. (2002). Introduction; On the road. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, 158(4), 595-617.
  7. ^ a b Cobban, J. L. (1993). Public Housing in Colonial Indonesia 1900–1940. Modern Asian Studies, 27(04), 871-896.
  8. ^ Silver, C. (2008). Planning the megacity: Jakarta in the twentieth century: Psychology Press.
  9. ^ a b Cote, J. (2004). Colonial designs: Thomas Karsten and the planning of urban Indonesia. Imprint, 2004, 01-01.
  10. ^ "Weatherbase: Weather for Semarang, Indonesia". Weatherbase. 2011.  Retrieved on 1 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Bendungan Utama Waduk Jatibarang Dikerjakan". 13 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Matthew Isaac Cohen. The Komedie Stamboel: Popular Theater in Colonial Indonesia, 1891-1903. p. 90. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ (Indonesian)
  15. ^ Wahyuni Kamah, 'Semarang: Indonesia's City of Jamu', The Jakarta Globe, 26 March 2012.
  16. ^
  17. ^[dead link]
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  • Graaf, H. J. de (Hermanus Johannes), 1899-(?), "Chinese Muslims in Java in the 15th and 16th centuries : the Malay Annals of Semarang and Cerbon / translated and provided with comments by H.J. de Graaf and Th.G.Th. Pigeaud; edited by M.C. Ricklefs. Publisher: [Melbourne] : Monash University, 1984. Description: xiii, 221 p. : folded map ; 21 cm. ISBN 0-86746-419-4 : Series: Monash papers on Southeast Asia ; no. 12

External links[edit]