Past Cities

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia

Banjarmasin is a historically significant city located in the province of South Kalimantan, Indonesia. It holds a rich and diverse history, shaped by its political environment, geographical features, and the people who have inhabited it. Over the centuries, Banjarmasin has witnessed the rise and fall of various kingdoms, experienced colonial rule, and contributed significantly to the development of the region.

The history of Banjarmasin dates back to the 13th century when it was established as the capital of the Kingdom of Banjar. At that time, the region was known for its strategic location along the Barito River and its abundant natural resources. The kingdom flourished under the rule of its various sultans and became a major center of trade and commerce in Southeast Asia. The population of Banjarmasin steadily grew, reaching an estimated 150,000 inhabitants by the 18th century.

In the early 17th century, Banjarmasin came under the influence of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which sought to control the spice trade in the region. The VOC established a trading post in Banjarmasin and gradually gained control over the kingdom through alliances and agreements with local rulers. The Dutch presence had a significant impact on the city's political and economic landscape. They introduced new agricultural practices, built infrastructure such as canals and roads, and established a system of taxation.

During the 19th century, Banjarmasin, like much of Indonesia, came under Dutch colonial rule. The Dutch implemented policies that favored their economic interests, leading to the exploitation of local resources and the marginalization of the indigenous population. The city became an important hub for the export of products such as rubber, coal, and timber. The colonial period also saw the arrival of Chinese immigrants, who played a crucial role in trade and contributed to the city's multicultural fabric.

The early 20th century witnessed the emergence of nationalist movements in Indonesia, which sought to free the country from foreign rule. Banjarmasin became a center of resistance against the Dutch, with various local leaders advocating for independence. The city's strategic location and its active participation in the nationalist movement made it a target for Dutch suppression. However, the struggle for independence gained momentum, and in 1949, Indonesia finally achieved sovereignty.

Following independence, Banjarmasin experienced rapid urbanization and population growth. The city's population expanded significantly, reaching around 750,000 inhabitants by the turn of the 21st century. The growth was fueled by migration from rural areas and the expansion of industries such as mining and palm oil production. However, the city also faced challenges related to urban planning, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability.

Banjarmasin's geography has played a crucial role in shaping its history and development. Situated in the low-lying delta of the Barito River, the city is known for its unique water-based transportation system. Numerous canals crisscross the urban landscape, and boats serve as a primary mode of transportation for the local population. The city's waterways have been instrumental in facilitating trade, connecting different neighborhoods, and sustaining the livelihoods of the Banjarese people.

The political environment and geography of Banjarmasin have had a profound impact on the lives of its inhabitants. The city's history is marked by a complex interplay of power dynamics, cultural exchange, and socioeconomic changes. The Banjarese people, the dominant ethnic group in the region, have preserved their cultural heritage despite the influences of various external forces. Their language, customs, and traditional practices continue to thrive, adding to the city's vibrant tapestry.