A historic port city of the region since pre-colonial era, naturally Jakarta becomes a melting-pot of culture. Due to the growth of scholars in Batavia (colonial name of Jakarta), books became a way for people to exchange ideas which sparked nationalism and then carried Indonesia to independence. Balai Pustaka, Indonesia’s first publishing house, was founded here in 1917, followed by the Indonesian Publishers Association in 1950. Jakarta also houses the Literature Museum of H.B. Jassin, that archives a comprehensive collection of Indonesian literature. With its massive infrastructure development, Jakarta hosts a number of international events ranging from the Asian Games 1962 and 2018 to the 33rd International Publishers Congress in 2022, alongside annual publishing events and book fairs. With the most books published per year according to International Publisher Association 2013, Jakarta is the driving force of the Southeast Asia book scene. Therefore, Jakarta as UNESCO’s first City of Literature in Southeast Asia means placing literature at the heart of the region.


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