Banten is one of the young provinces in Republic of Indonesia. This region is situated in west Java. It can be reached about an hour from Jakarta. It’s feel unbelievable, after the busy toll-way and hectic Jakarta as metropolitan city, we enter small and charming Banten. This city has a lot of treasure to whom that likes history. Such as the ruins of Surosowan Palace, Kaibon Palace, ‘Masjid Agung Banten’? (Banten Great Mosque, enlisted in Moslem’s pilgrimage in Indonesia), Speelwijk fortress and Chinese temple Avalokiteshvara, and the harbor of Banten, Karanghantu [devil rock's harbor] that still used nowadays already existed since centuries ago. From this place, Sultan Banten’s troopers took fight against the pirates and take defense from the Dutch.
Along with the prevailing regional government changing, in respect to the insistence of Banten People’s aspiration to demand the separation from West Java Province, and after long process based on Law Number 23 Year 2000 concerning on Formation of Banten Province dated 17th October, 2000, established Banten Province as the 30th Province. Banten Province consists of 4 Regencies and 2 Cities, 94 Districts, 128 sub districts and 1,339 Villages. Geographically, the location of Banten Province is strategic because of the link between Java Island and Sumatra Island as well as the capital of Republic of Indonesia and West Java Province as a potential market of Banten’s products.
The economic sector, that have a great potential resources and various to be developed, namely sectors in agriculture, industry/trade, tourism, mining/exploration, and also supported by the availability of variety natural resources in great amount. Industry sector contribute more than 52 % from total of Banten’s GRDP, because in Banten there are 17 Industrial Zones equipped by good facilities and managed by professional private companies.
Banten is one of the newest provinces in Indonesia and also one of the richest. The province combines many of the most important Industrial Zones in Indonesia and also has the extended recreation areas along the western coast of Java and in south the Ujung Kulon National Park and the mountainous areas that are home to the Baduy people. Banten has the easiest access to Jakarta being merely an enclave in this province.
This province uses its own unique culture and language, both called Sundanese that is also used to call its people. The ancient kingdoms of Banten are Tarumanegara, Pajajaran, Banten and Cirebon would make interesting studies for the student of archaeology. Cirebon is located on the border between West and Central Java, having a mixed culture originating from the ancient Cirebon and Banten kingdoms, resulting in similar customs and dialects of the two people, although Banten city is located at the extreme western part of the province. Banten city on Banten Bay was one of the first places to begin trade with the Dutch. There is little to see of the past glories of this area today with the exception of the Grand Mosque, which was completed in 1599 and is certainly worth a visit.
The Province has a great number of attractions, from the wildlife reserve of Ujung Kulon on the southwestern tip of Java and the isolated communities of the mysterious Baduy to the unspoiled beaches. The villages are busy and attractive and the pace of life gets slower as we move towards the National Park in the southwest. From any point along the western coast we can see the “son of Krakatau” volcano, which rises impressively from the sea. Banten offers many different recreational experiences. The trip to Anyer area from Jakarta is now quick and easy because of the toll road, which connects Merak port with Jakarta. As we move further south along the west Java coast the lifestyle becomes more relaxed and after Labuan we move into more rural areas where the road conditions worsen and the lifstyle is relaxed. Here access to the forest areas begins and we can move back in time and enjoy the peace of nature. There is a bus each day from Labuan to Taman Jaya, which is on the edge of Ujung Kulon national park. There are simple cabins can be hired and a ranger can then take us on a walk into the park. It takes about six hours to reach a camping site.
The total area of Banten is 8,800.83 Km2, consisting of 4 Regencies and 2 Cities, which are divided into as follows:
- Serang Regency: 1.724,09 km2
- Lebak Regency: 2.859,96 km2
- Pandeglang Regency: 2.746,88 km2
- Tangerang Regency: 1.110,38 km2
- Cilegon Town: 175,50 km2
- Tangerang Town: 177,20 km2 _
Banten region is surrounded by Java Sea in the North. Sunda Straits in the West, and facing the India Ocean in the South. These make Banten as a region with very great of sea product resources.
Total population in 2001 was 8,258,055 persons, consists of 4,231,079 men (51.24%) and 4,026,976 (48.76%). The densely populated regency is in Tangerang with its total population 2,873,256 persons. The highest density Region is Tangerang City 7,362.26 persons/Km2 in 1990 until 2001 period. Population growth from increased at 2.99%/year. Total workforce or aged 15 years above in 2001 was 3,330,224 or 52.57%.
The coastal city of Banten, 75 kilometers west of Jakarta on the northern coast of Java, was one of the Asia’s largest cosmopolitan trading harbors in the 16th and 17th century. Ships visited its port from Malacca, China, Vietnam, India, Arab, Portugal and Netherlands. At its peek, it was almost as important as Amsterdam. Nowadays Banten is only a small fishing village. There are still old buildings left which are worth a visit for someone who is interested in the history of Indonesia before and during the colonial times.