The Yogyakarta Special Region
Located in the southern part of Java, with the Indian Ocean bordering the south part and Central Java sharing the whole land borders, the Yogyakarta Special Region is special in several ways – historically, culturally, educationally, and geographically.
Historically, this region made a significant contribution to the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia at its infancy stage. Culturally, this region is rich due to the people’s ways of life, observing various values harmoniously. Educationally, this region has served the country’s young generation by providing quality well rounded education. In terms of tourism, this Special Region also has a great many points of interests. These points will be elaborated one by one below.
The Yogyakarta Special Region is a territory whose formation was closely related to the early establishment of the Republic /rɪˈpʌblɪk/ of Indonesia. This special region was granted a special name by the first President, Soekarno, due to the full support lent to the Republic of Indonesia by Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX, the then King of the Mataram Kingdom, together with KGPAA Paku Alam VIII, the then ruler of Kadipaten Paku Alam. Both the Kingdom and the Kadipaten had enjoyed their sovereignty long, long before this country got its independence in 1945.
The first and most important support was granted in the form of a declaration to integrate the two kingdoms into the Republic only around two weeks after the independence proclamation. When the fragile Republic was endangered by the aggressive attack from the Dutch and its ally, Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX invited the Indonesian Government to move to this Kingdom and shouldered the entire budget to run the Republic. This full support was enjoyed for around four years until 1949 when the United Nation recognized the country’s independence. If it had not received such support, the fragile Republic would not have survived. Recognizing the great merit that has secured the country’s existence, the President made a decree to stipulate that the two Kingdoms were to form the Yogyakarta Special Region with Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX being the Governor while Sri Paduka Paku Alam the Vice-Governor and the Special Region be equal to a province, though its area is much smaller compared to other provinces. It is indeed the smallest province in this country yet with great impact on the huge country with 260 million people as its population.
The Yogyakarta Special Region is special not only because of its government top leaders, but also of its richness in culture. Culture in this region is observed developing sustainably as evidenced in art works and organizations. In this region we can find a great many types of arts— dances, paintings, traditional music, crafts. These arts range from folk to modern to classical types. Their preservation and development are ensured through art organizations which reach more than 5000 in number.
In other words, art organizations in this region have helped their preservation and development. This is further supported by the annual Yogyakarta Art Festival (since 1989), which has attracted thousands of visitors from various parts of the country, and the Biennial Yogyakarta International Art Festival (since 2015), which has attracted artists from various countries in the world. More importantly, in this region the people observe tolerance, peace, mutual respect, and sincerity, which are indeed the desired values for mankind. Once someone steps his/her foot in this Special Region, he/she is treated as part of the community, and therefore will feel at home. All of this has made Yogyakarta known as the Region of Culture.
The Yogyakarta Special Region is also strong in education, in both access and quality. The people have enjoyed great access to all levels of education, starting from kindergarten to higher education. In this Special Region, pre-school education is provided through 2,118 kindergartens, elementary education through 2,028 primary schools, lower secondary education through 439 junior secondary schools, upper secondary academic education through 162 senior secondary academic schools, and secondary vocational education through 218 senior secondary vocational schools, and tertiary education through 107 higher education institutions of various types such academies, colleges, universities. Tertiary education, and to some extent secondary education, in this Special Region can be accessed not only by students from Yogyakarta, but also by those from different provinces from all-over Indonesia. The students can also enjoy services provided by more than 50 museum spread all over this Special Region. All of this has made this Special Region a centre of learning.
Of all Indonesia’s geo-heritage sites, nine sites are located in the Yogyakarta Special Region, as declared by the Geological Agency of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. The nine sites as as follows: (1) Eosen limestone in Gamping (Sleman regency), (2) pillow lava in Berbah (Sleman), (3) pre-historic volcanic sediment in Candi Ijo, (4) Prambanan (Sleman), (5) sand dunes in Parangtritis Beach (Bantul regency), (6) Kiskendo cave and former manganese mining site in Kleripan (Kulonprogo regency), (7) the prehistoric volcano in Nglanggeran (Gunungkidul regency), (8) Wediombo-Siung beaches (Gunungkidul), and (9) Bioturbasi site in Kalingalang (Gunungkidul). The most unusual one is pillow lava in Berbah (Sleman) which is a big, rough black rock lying on the bank of narrow Dengkeng River. The prehistoric volcano in Nglanggeran (Gunungkidul regency) has already been developed as a tourist destination.
This Special Region is also well-known for its tourism. Various points of interests attract visitors from all over the country and overseas. These include some beaches, caves, scenic views on the slope of Mt. Merapi, agro-tourism, and cultural and historic sites. Of the cultural and historic sites, one has been declared as the World Cultural Heritage site, i.e. Prambanan Temple. Besides, cultural artifacts and art performances also attracts visitors. Of the art performances, the wayang or shadow puppet has also been declared as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Other intangible cultural heritages found in this Special Region are Batik and Kris (Keris). All of this has made Yogyakarta known as a tourist region.