Batavia, Dutch East Indies (Residency) - Encyclopedia

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BATAVIA, a residency of the island of Java, Dutch East Indies, bounded E., S. and W. by the residencies of Krawana, Preanger and Bantam, and N. by the Java Sea. It also comprises a number of small islands in the Java Sea, including the Thousand Islands group, with a total area of 24 sq. m. The population in 1898 was 1,313,383, including 12,434 Europeans, 82,510 Chinese, 3426 Arabs and other Asiatic foreigners. The natives belong to a Sundanese group, but in the north contain a large admixture of Malays. The northern half of the province is flat, and even marshy along the coast, and consists of a broad band of alluvium formed by the series of parallel rivers descending from the south. The southern half on the other hand is covered by a mountain range whose chief peaks are situated along the southern border, namely Halimun mountain, the volcanoes Salak, Pangerango and Gede, and the Megamendung. The soil is fertile, and whereas rice is mainly grown on the lowlands the highlands are especially suitable for the cultivation of coffee, tea, tobacco, cinchona and vanilla. Extensive cocoanut plantations are also found in the plains, and market-gardening is practised in the neighbourhood of the towns. Sugar was formerly cultivated. The government of the residency of Batavia differs from that of the other residencies in having no native regencies, the lands being privately owned. The divisions of the residency are Batavia, town and surroundings, Tangerang, Meester Cornelis and Buitenzorg, the first being directly governed by a resident and the remainder by assistant residents. As early as the second half of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company began the practice of selling portions of the land to private persons, and of granting other portions as the reward of good services. A large strip of hill-country, almost corresponding to the present southern or Buitenzorg division of the residency, was appropriated by the governor-general in 1745 and attached to that office. In 1808, however, Marshal Daendels disposed of this property to various purchasers, including the Dutch government, and thus the whole of the residency gradually passed into private hands. Hence the administration of the residency is largely confined to police duties. The principal towns are Batavia, which is the capital of the residency, as well as the seat of government of the whole Dutch East Indies, Meester Cornelis, Tangerang, Bekasi and Buitenzorg. Tangerang and Bekasi are important centres of trade. The Buitenzorg hill-country is much visited on account of its beauty, and cool and healthy climate. Gadok is a health resort 6 m. south-east of Buitenzorg.

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