Jakarta is the largest city in Indonesia as well as its capital. The center of Indonesia's economy, politics and culture, Jakarta is home to over 10 million people. Jakarta takes up 255 square miles.

Indonesia Urban Java

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • A typical job for impoverished urban adults in Indonesia is selling items on city streets. Indonesia busy marketplace
  • The age-appropriate Compassion curriculum is culturally adapted to ensure that Indonesian children receive the training that best meets their needs. Indonesia children with books
  • More than 67 million children in Indonesia are younger than 15. Most are growing up in Muslim families. Indonesia girl looking out window
  • A Compassion Indonesia staff member processes letters from children to their sponsors. Indonesia woman reading sponsor letters
  • The Compassion program encourages children to take pride in their heritage by learning and performing traditional Indonesian dances. Indonesia young girl dancing
  • Motorcycles rigged with passenger accommodations are typical modes of transportation in Indonesia. Indonesia family on bicycle

Overview: Urban Java

With a population of 130 million, Java is the most densely populated of Indonesia’s islands. In fact, nearly 54 percent of the country’s total population lives on this island, which is also home to Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta. Java is the 13th largest island in the world and the fourth largest in Indonesia.

The Javanese ethnic group is native to the island and is the largest people group both on Java and throughout Indonesia. The three major local dialects spoken on Java are Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese. Most people also speak Indonesian, usually as a second language.

About 86 percent of Java’s people are Muslim. Another 3 percent are Protestant Christian, primarily located in the island’s central province. Hinduism, Buddhism and animism are also influences here.

Java has two primary seasons — dry and rainy. The dry season is June through September, and the rainy season is December through March. The other months of the year are known as transitional months. The temperature on Java ranges between 73 and 87 degrees, and the humidity averages 75 percent.

Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, is located on Java. And because the island lies between two major tectonic plates, it frequently experiences earthquakes. During the rainy season, flooding also occurs. Inefficient sewer systems make flooding a huge problem in the cities.


Culture Corner


Try this Indonesian fried rice recipe — a favorite among children on the island of Java.


2 cups long-grain rice
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 medium carrots, diced
2 oz. cabbage, shredded
¼ lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Salt, to taste


Cook the rice according to package directions. Spoon rice into a bowl, cover with damp dish towel, and let stand 2 to 3 hours until cold. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan. Add onion, chili powder and ginger. Stir-fry 1 or 2 minutes. Add carrots and cabbage. Stir-fry 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except rice. Stir-fry 6 minutes. Add rice. Mix thoroughly over low heat. Serve hot.


Life in Urban Java

Indonesia comprises 17,508 islands. However, 93 percent of the country’s 248 million people live on just four of them. The island of Java is home to 60 percent of all Indonesians.

About half of Indonesia’s population lives in cities. Many people migrate from Java’s rural areas to cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta, attracted by the lure of better job opportunities. More than 16 percent of all Indonesian males currently living in cities are migrants. With few skills, they settle in slums and struggle to provide for their families’ needs by street vending, scavenging, or working at short-term day labor jobs.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, with more than 86 percent of the people following this religion. However, the growth of Christianity is outpacing that of Islam.

Children at Home

The homes of poor Javanese families living in urban slums are fragile, makeshift dwellings of scrap materials. These are typically crowded together along riverbanks and other precarious locations. Such highly polluted rivers, which often flood during the rainy season, make an unsanitary environment for children growing up in the slums.


Community Issues and Concerns indonesia urban community

The economic crisis, which began in Asia in mid-1997, deepened poverty levels in Indonesia. Today, nearly 18 percent of Indonesians find it difficult to meet their basic needs. The average income for a family ranges from $42 to $184 per month.

Many poor people have moved from Java’s rural villages to the island’s cities in search of jobs and opportunities for a better life. With few resources or marketable skills, they are unable to secure steady work, and they typically settle in the sprawling urban slums, which grow larger every year. Unsanitary conditions in the slums are particularly hazardous to children’s health. And during certain months of the year, the threat of deadly mosquito-borne dengue fever is high.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children living in Java’s urban slums face many daunting challenges to growing up happy and healthy. About 16 percent of homes lack proper sanitation, and frequent flooding typically leads to outbreaks of waterborne diseases. In fact, the number-one cause of death in Indonesia is disease due to lack of clean water. Malnutrition affects one-fifth of Indonesia’s children younger than 5. And urban children are at risk of falling prey to human traffickers. They desperately need a safe and secure environment, and God’s loving protection.


Schools and Education indonesia urban education

Public education is technically free in Indonesia through the ninth grade. However, parents bear the burden of paying for children’s schoolbooks, supplies and uniforms. They also often have to contribute “support fees” to their children’s schools for basic maintenance and enhancements, which the government usually does not provide. Education beyond the ninth grade is expensive and beyond the reach of most poor families.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers on the island of Java, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals or snacks for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Children are engaged in a variety of activities, such as learning to play musical instruments. Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

At Compassion, we believe God’s mandate to serve the world’s poor and oppressed rests on the shoulders of the church. That’s why being “church-based” is an important Compassion distinctive. In other words, Compassion comes alongside local churches, empowering them to carry out God’s mandate to bring real and lasting transformation into the lives of impoverished children. Local churches understand well the challenges of the poor in their communities, as well as the best ways to address those challenges.

For more than 40 years, this unique partnership between Compassion and local Indonesian churches has been releasing children from poverty and providing them the opportunities they need to grow into happy, healthy, responsible Christian adults.

How Compassion Works in Indonesia indonesia urban compassion in indonesia

Compassion’s work in Indonesia began in 1968. Currently, more than 61,000 children participate in 337 child development centers (not including eastern Indonesia).

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Indonesia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are the “hands” of Compassion, reaching out to local churches, instilling in them the vision then providing them guidance for operating successful child development centers. Partnership Facilitators represent the best interest of child sponsors to the local churches and, in turn, represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

Each church is visited by its Partnership Facilitator once every month. Marcellinus Hendratma, who oversees 13 church partners in rural Medan on the island of Sumatra, spends up to two weeks away from home visiting these churches. But the effort is worthwhile. “What makes my job exciting is that I work with the church to expand its influence as a blessing to many,” says Marcellinus.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the health of children living in unsanitary urban conditions.
  • Pray for the protection of children from kidnapping by traffickers.
  • Pray for the protection of families from earthquakes and flooding.
  • Pray for the parents and caregivers of Compassion-assisted children who face unemployment or underemployment.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.