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Ci Liwung
Sungai Ciliwung, Tji Liwoeng, Tjiliwoeng, Tjiliwung
Ciliwung 100303-0435 jkt.jpg
Lower Ci Liwung at Jakarta
Ciliwung is located in Java
Ciliwung is located in Indonesia
CitiesJakarta, Depok, Bogor
Physical characteristics
 • locationMount Pangrango, Bogor Regency, West Java, Indonesia
 • coordinates6°44′23″S 106°56′59″E / 6.739846°S 106.949692°E / -6.739846; 106.949692
 • elevation3,002 m (9,849 ft)
 • location
North Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia
 • coordinates
6°07′00″S 106°49′42″E / 6.11667°S 106.82833°E / -6.11667; 106.82833Coordinates: 6°07′00″S 106°49′42″E / 6.11667°S 106.82833°E / -6.11667; 106.82833
 • elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length119 km (74 mi)
Basin size375 km2 (145 sq mi)
Ci Liwung ("K. Ciliwung "), bottom center in the map of rivers and canals of Jakarta (2012)

Ci Liwung (often written as Ciliwung; also as Tjiliwoeng in Dutch, Sundanese: ᮎᮤᮜᮤᮝᮥᮀ) is a 119 km long river in the northwestern region of Java where it flows through two provinces, West Java and the special region of Jakarta. The natural estuary of the Ciliwung river, known as the Kali Besar ("Big River"), was an important strategic point for trade in the precolonial and colonial periods and was instrumental in the founding of the port city of Jakarta, but has been lost from reorganization of the watercourse of the rivers around the area into canals.


The etymology of Ciliwung is uncertain; the two least implausible assumptions are "the whirlpool" (compare Sundanese liwung "be distressed, upset") or "the meandering one" (compare Malay liuk, liut "to twist").[2] It is possible that the name originated from one of the many epithets of the king of Pajajaran Sri Baduga Maharaja, among them is Prabu Haliwung, so named because of his temperamental attitude. The name Ci Haliwung was recorded in the map of C.M. Pleyte (1919).[3]


Upper Ci Liwung near its source in the Puncak area.

Ci Liwung is 119 km long with a catchment area of 476 km2. The Ciliwung river has its source at Mandalawangi in Bogor Regency with the highest peak at 3,002 m. The river flows in a northern direction passing several active volcanoes, Mount Salak, Mount Kendeng, and Mount Halimun, crosses two main cities Bogor and Jakarta before finally flowing into the Java Sea through Jakarta Bay. The main tributaries in the upper catchment area are the Ciesek and Ciluar rivers with respective lengths 9.7 km and 21.0 km, with catchment areas of 27.15 km2 and 35.25 km2 respectively.

Ciliwung river basin has a narrow and elongated shape. The 17.2 km length of the upstream area has a very steep slope (0.08), The 25.4 km length in the middle-reach has a slope of 0.01 and the downstream, 55 km in length, has a flat slope of 0.0018. In general the geology of the upstream of Ciliwung river basin is dominated by Tuffaceous Breccia and older deposits lahar and lava. The middle-reach consists mainly of Quaternary period alluvial fans and volcanic rocks. The downstream area is dominated by alluvial and beach ridge deposits.

Mean rainfall reaches 3,125 mm, with mean annual discharge of 16 m3/s as measured at Ciliwung Ratujaya observation station (231 km2). With such topographical, geological and hydrological features the Ciliwung river is often overflowing and inundating parts of Jakarta. The population along the Ciliwung river basin reaches 4.088 million (Census 2000) which can be regarded as the most densely populated area.[1]

Jakarta's canal[edit]

The natural flow of Ciliwung was diverted into canals by the Dutch during the early settlement of Jakarta (then named as Batavia). Beginning in area that is now Istiqlal Mosque, the Ciliwung was diverted into two canals, one flowing northwest and one flowing northeast.

The western branch flows along the canal of Jalan Veteran and then through the canal of Jalan Gajah Mada. This 2 km straight canal is known as Batang Hari canal, previously known as Molenvliet, which was dug in the 17th century. Formerly the water branches into two direction in Glodok, following the two course that is now Jalan Pancoran and Jalan Pinangsia Raya; today the water from Batang Hari canal was diverted east before Lindeteves Trade Center. Eventually the water ends up in Sunda Kelapa harbor after passing through the canals of Jakarta Old Town.

The eastern branch of Ci Liwung passing through a canal near Mangga Dua Square

The eastern branch flows along the canal of Jalan Antara, passing the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta and then along the canal of Jalan Gunung Sahari. The water ends up in Ancol.

Initially a canal links the eastern and the western branches of Ciliwung. Today this canal, which is now located on the south side of Jalan Tol Pelabuhan, was filled with slum settlement due to careless planning after the independence period.

After the 1918 Jakarta's big flood, a new canal, the Banjir canal ("flood canal"), was constructed in 1922 to divert the water of several rivers of Jakarta, which includes Ciliwung, Cideng, and Krukut. The flow of Ciliwung was diverted through the Manggarai floodgate, constructed at the point near Manggarai station. The water is diverted to the west of the city through Pasar Rumput, Dukuh Atas and going to northwest to Karet Kubur and continued to Tanah Abang, Tomang, Grogol, Pademangan, and ends at Muara Angke.

The New East Flood Canal has been opened since 2010, a 23 kilometers canal from Cipinang River to the east and then to the north of Java Sea as a quarter of a circle with 100 to 300 meters width.[4] On December 19, 2013 a contract to build water tunnel(s) to East Flood Canal from Ciliwung River with minimum capacity of 60 cubic meters per second has been signed by Public Works Ministry.[5] So, the floods in East Jakarta to the north and along the Ciliwung River will be eased.


Kingdoms of Tarumanegara and Sunda[edit]

17th-century map of the area south of Batavia, showing River Ciliwung with outposts protecting the road from Batavia to Fort Padjajaran (now Bogor), the River Cisadane, and Citarik.

The Ciliwung River Basin has been populated at least since the 4th century. Two kingdoms were founded along the Upper Ciliwung in Bogor; Tarumanegara (4th-5th Century) with its King Purnawarman and Sunda (15th-16th Century) with its King Sri Baduga. The existence of these Kingdoms is found from ancient inscriptions at Ciaruteun (Tarumanagara) and Batutulis (Padjajaran).[1]

In the early 16th-century, Ciliwung was an important mean of transportation from the fortified city of Pakuan Pajajaran, the capital of Hindu Sunda Kingdom. Sunda Kelapa, located at the mouth of Ciliwung (more or less at the north end of present Kali Besar), was the main harbor of the Kingdom of Sunda.[6] Among the many epithets of the king Sri Baduga Maharaja, was Prabu Haliwungan - so called because of his temperamental attitude. The river Ci Haliwung or Ci Liwung was probably named after the king's epithet. The name Ci Haliwung or Tji Haliwoeng was recorded in the map of C.M. Pleyte (1919).[7]

During the rise of the Hindu Kingdom of Sunda, Ciliwung became the important mean of transportation for the kingdom. To protect Sunda Kelapa from the Islamic Sultanate of Cirebon and Demak, Prabu Surawisesa (recorded by the Portuguese as Samian) was instructed by the king to sign a peace treaty with the Portuguese to trade in pepper in exchange to a permission to built a fort to protect the main port of Sunda Kalapa. The pact was immortalized in a 1522 padrão. Despite the treaty, the Portuguese failed to construct the fort at the given year. The padrão of Sunda Kelapa was found by Fatahillah, commander of the Sultanate of Demak, and was fell into the Ciliwung without any ceremony. The padrão will only be rediscovered in 1918.[7]

VOC period[edit]

Within the walled Batavia[edit]

A map showing the transformation of the mouth of Ciliwung into canals flowing through the inner city and moat flowing around the city and the fort of Batavia.

Sunda Kelapa was used as the main port by the Dutch (1619) who constructed a fort at the east bank of the estuary and founded Batavia, the largest city and the capital of the East Indies Empire, until the city was transformed into Jakarta after the independence of Indonesia.[8] Sultanate of Banten (1527)[8]

With the establishment of Batavia in the 17th century, the Dutch diverted Ciliwung into canals following a typical Dutch city pattern. The waters of Ciliwung was also channeled to form two inner and outer moats and a wall surrounding the city of Batavia. The largest canal which flows through the middle of Batavia was named Kali Besar or Dutch Grote Rivier ("Big River"). Small boats sailed along Ciliwung to transport goods from warehouses close to Kali Besar to ships anchored at the port.[9]

The maintenance of the canals within the walled city of Batavia is difficult because of its frequent sedimentation. In the middle of the 1630s, the canals became really shallow, making it difficult for ships to enter Batavia. In order to deal with this, an 800 m long ditch was constructed to the sea that was routinely dredged to ease the flow of water. The length of the ditch increased to 1,350 m (1827) from the mouth of the river due to accumulation of sand and mud and what more with the earthquake in January 1699 [9]

Ciliwung tributary that empties into the ocean was used for ship entrance into the castle from the canals to Waterpoort. The water of the canals were used by the citizens for drinking water. In 1689, the canals were still unpolluted and could be used for drinking water. The earthquake, which occurred in January 1699, caused the increase in sedimentation level. Heaps of mud and sand accumulated in the ditch that was dredged to ease the flow of the water to and from the river.[9]

In 1740, the canal of Batavia was considered unhealthy because of rubbish and the waste from the Binnen Hospital discharged into the river. Many patients suffered from dysentery and cholera. The unhygienic drinking water caused high death rates among the Batavia citizens. On the other hand, most of the Chinese who drank tea rarely got sick. Aware of this, many Dutch people ate tea leaves to stay healthy, but obviously this attempt did not succeed. By the end of the 18th century, Doctor Thunberg still prescribed tea leaves instead of boiled water. It was still unknown at that time that bacteria can be killed by boiling water until boiling point. The Dutch still drank water from Ciliwung through the 19th century. Water from Ciliwung was initially stored in a reservoir (waterplaats or aquada) near Fort Jacatra, north of the city. Later the reservoir was transferred to the sides of Molenvliet in Glodok area. The reservoir contains wooden water outlets which pour water from the height of about 10 feet. The local people knows the area around this reservoir as Pancuran. Back then when Molenvliet was deep enough for boats to sail, annual Peh Cun or Dragon Boat festival were held in the river.[9]

In the area surrounding Batavia[edit]

Outside Batavia, within the ommelanden (area surrounding Batavia), canals were constructed by channeling the waters of the rivers surrounding Batavia (e.g. Ciliwung, River Ancol, River Angke, River Krukut, and River Grogol). The creation of canals are mainly to improve transportation of goods to the walled city of Batavia and to expand agricultural land by draining the water of the marshes surrounding Batavia to be converted into arable land.

In 1648, the Ciliwung was connected with the Krukut via Molenvliet.[10] There was an attempt to close the Ciliwung river course north of Noordwijk.[11] The part of the river was dammed so that the river was forced to flow westward via Molenvliet.[11] Despite the attempt, seasonal flooding occurred where the Ciliwung forced its water to flow back to its old tributary, which was still happening around 1725.[11]

In 1681, the Ciliwung flow was diverted toward the east along the Postweg (now Jalan Pos) to reach a new canal known as Gunung Sahari Canal. Gunung Sahari Canal divert the flow of Ciliwung to reach the Java Sea to the north, near the mouth of River Ancol (now the canal near Dunia Fantasi). In the Gunung Sahari Canal, the Ciliwung merged again with its old course at the Krekot Sentiong area. The construction of Gunung Sahari canal caused frequent flooding in the area along the Noordwijk (now Jalan Ir. H. Juanda). Because of this, a lock was constructed at the west side of the Noordwijk (named schutsluis Noordwijk, later becoming the Willemsluis) to protect Noordwijk from flooding, The lock gives name to the streets surrounding the area Jalan Pintu Air ("water lock street").[10]

The part of Ciliwung that flows straight from Harmoni to the north used to be a private river with toll payments for those who wanted to pass through it. This river was named Molenvliet and it was built by the Dutch by Kapitein der Chinezen (head of the Chinese in Betawi), Phoa Beng Gan known as Beng Gan. In 1648, Beng Gan received permission from the Company to build this river and collected toll payments from sampans that passed through. In 1654, it was taken over by the Company for 1.000 real.


The river water is murky once it reaches Jakarta because the area of its flow is a disposal area. As a result, the river is growing shallower and the flow slower.[9] In 2014, the Audit Board of Indonesia released a four-year audit of the river and found that seventeen separate companies had been polluting its waters, submitting a report to the police.[12]

Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) has a separate Ciliwung Cisadane River Region Center (BBWSCC). DKI Jakarta Provincial Government and BBWSCC have an agreement on the normalization of some rivers in Jakarta. The DKI Provincial Government is tasked with freeing land for normalization needs to be carried out by BBWSCC. A restoration project is undertaken to widen and water flow of the river. The restoration project is divided into four sections with a total length of about 19-km, extending from Manggarai to the Jl. TB Simatupang area in South Jakarta. Ciliwung will also be widened from present 25 meters up to 40 – 50 meters. It is expected that the water flow will increase from current 200 cubic meters per second to 570 cubic meters per second.[13]

Ciliwung-Cisadane tunnel[edit]

A coordination meeting on January 20, 2014 among the Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Environment, Jakarta Governor, Bogor Mayor, Bogor Regent and Ciliwung-Cisadane Rivers Control Office agreed to build Ciliwung to Cisadane River to ease Ciliwung debit when Cisadane is not in flood condition.[14] The tunnel is 2.9 kilometers long and diameter of six meters.[15]


The Ciliwung River flows through two provinces, West Java and the Special Region of Jakarta. Two main races dominate the region namely, the Sundanese (West Java) in southern Ciliwung and Orang Betawi (Jakarta) in northern Ciliwung.

Culture in the Bogor area is mainly Sundanese, such as can be observed from traditional dances, the Ketuk Tilu or the Jaipongan which is modern, sensual and full of spirit. Specific Sundanese music can be observed from the Degung, Calung, Angklung and Kecapi suling.

Culture of Jakarta can be seen in the Yapong dance and Gambang kromong as well as Kroncong music can still be found at Tugu, north of Jakarta. Also famous is a humorous play, the Lenong, using a special Betawi dialect.


The section of Ciliwung in Jakarta is heavily polluted. Informal settlements or slums flourished on the banks of Ciliwung, increasing the amount of waste and reducing the surface area of the river. Some canals was completely blocked by slums and people created informal gardens inside by drying the canal. Water maintenance and ecological awareness is minimal. Other sources of pollution originate from agricultural runoff of upstream river users and industrial pollution.[16] Flooding is a problem of Ciliwung. With many of the original forest converted into settlements around Puncak area, the flooding has worsened each year.

In 2012, the government of Indonesia announced a 20-year plan to clean up the Ciliwung river, which kicked off with a $10 million restoration project that will include the construction of a waste processing facility in 2013[17] and an education centre for riverside communities.[18]  The city administration now hires over 4000 workers to regularly clean the city’s rivers, canals, lakes and coastal areas. Ex-Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama also plans to turn parts of the Ciliwung riverbank into a tourist site.[19]


  1. ^ a b c DPRI Ciliwung Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Grijns, Kees; Nas, Peter J. M., eds. (2000). Jakarta-Batavia: Socio-cultural Essays. Leiden: KITLV Press. p. 220. ISBN 90-6718-139-0.
  3. ^ Mulyawan Karim 2009, p. 98.
  4. ^ "Proyek Banjir Kanal Timur". Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Rp500 Billion for Ciliwung River Tunnel Construction". 15 January 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Drs. R. Soekmono (1973). Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2, 2nd ed (5th reprint (1988) ed.). Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius. p. 60.
  7. ^ a b Mulyawan Karim 2009, pp. 98–9.
  8. ^ a b "History of Jakarta". BeritaJakarta. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Ciliwung, Sungai". Ensiklopedi Jakarta. Department of Communication, Informatics and Public Relations of Jakarta Capital City. 2012. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Mulyawan Karim 2009, pp. 91–2.
  11. ^ a b c de Haan 1935, pp. 397, 399.
  12. ^ Fitrian Ardiansyah, Andri Akbar Marthen, and Nur Amalia, Forest and land-use governance in a decentralized Indonesia: A legal and policy review Archived 2022-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, pg. 32. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research, 2015. ISBN 9786023870103
  13. ^ "Ciliwung restoration reaches 34 percent completion". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  14. ^ Indah Setiawati and Theresia Sufa (January 21, 2014). "Two reservoirs, big tunnel planned to ease flooding".
  15. ^ "Public Works Ministry Prioritizes Ciliwung-Cisadane Project". Tempo. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Polluted Rivers: The Ciliwung". HydrateLife. 2012-07-20. Archived from the original on 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  17. ^ "CILIWUNG, PILOT PROJECT OF INDONESIA'S RIVER CLEAN-UP PROGRAM by Fardah". 5 December 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  18. ^ "South Korea to help in restoring Ciliwung River". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  19. ^ "Jakarta seeing results with cleaner rivers". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2016-10-10.


External links[edit]