Surabaya (formerly Soerabaja) is Indonesia’s second-largest city, and the capital of the province of East Java. It is located on the northern shore of eastern Java at the mouth of the Mas River (Kali Mas) and the side of Strait of Madura.
The city is one of the busiest ports in the country. Its principal exports include sugar, tobacco and coffee. It has a large shipyard, and numerous specialized naval schools.
Surabaya derives its name from the words sura (shark) and buaya (crocodile), which have been told in local myth fighting each other in order to gain the title “the strongest and most powerful animal in the area”. Now the two animals are used as the city’s logo, the two facing each other while circling the city’s monument, the “Tugu Pahlawan”.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Surabaya was a sultanate and a major political and military power in eastern Java. It got into a conflict and was later taken by the more powerful Sultanate of Mataram in 1625 under Sultan Agung. It was one of Mataram’s fiercest campaign, where they had to conquer Surabaya’s allies, Sukadana and Madura and laid siege to the city before capturing it. With this conquest, Mataram then controlled almost the whole Java, with the exception of the Sultanate of Banten and the Dutch settlement of Batavia.
The expanding East Indies Companies then took the city over from a weakened Mataram in November 1743. Surabaya became a major trading center under the Dutch colonial government, and hosted the largest naval base in the colony.
In 1917 a revolt occurred amongst the soldiers and sailors of Surabaya, led by the Indies Social Democratic Association. The revolt was firmly crushed and the insurgents given harsh sentences.
During World War II Surabaya was captured by the Japanese in 1942, until the Allies bombed it in 1944. After that it was seized by Indonesian nationalists. However the young nation was soon put into conflict with the Allies-backed Dutch that tried to retake their colony. The Battle of Surabaya was one of the most important battle in the Indonesian revolution. It was started after British Brigadier General Mallaby was killed in car explosion in 8 November 1945 near Jembatan Merah (or the Red Bridge). The Allies gave an ultimatum to the Indonesian freedom fighters inside the city to surrender, but it was refused. The ensuing battle took place in 10 November.
The city was the re-occupied by the Dutch in 1947. Because of prolonged international pressure, the Dutch agreed to transfer the sovereignty of its colony in August 1949. Surabaya was ultimately incorporated into Indonesia in December 1949 and rebuilt.
In her role as the main trading city in the eastern region of Indonesia, Surabaya has become one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia. Today, Surabaya’s population is around three million. The areas surrounding Surabaya include Lamongan to the northwest, Gresik to the west, Bangkalan to the northeast, Sidoarjo to the south, and Mojokerto and Jombang to the southwest.
Currently, the Indonesian government is building the Suramadu Bridge between Surabaya and the island of Madura; when completed, it will be the longest bridge in the country. Madura is currently accessible by a ferry service that operates regularly from Surabaya’s port, Tanjung Perak (literally means: “Silver Cape” in Indonesian).
Surabaya is home to Eastern Armada, one of two in the Indonesian Navy. Its strong maritime heritage is also reflected with the Submarine Monument, a real retired Russian submarine, called Pasopati, that was converted into a museum ship in the city centre.
Flooding is common in many areas of the city during the rainy season, mostly caused by clogged sewers and inept bureaucracy. The fact that Surabaya is located in a river delta and has a flat and relatively low elevation doesn’t help the matter either.
Surabaya is the location of the only synagogue in Indonesia, although it is currently inactive.
Surabaya’s zoo, opened in 1916, was the first in the world to have successfully bred orangutans in captivity.
Other points of interest includes:
Grand Mosque of Surabaya, the largest mosque in East Java
Cheng Ho Mosque, the first mosque in Indonesia built with a Chinese style architecture
Jales Veva Jaya Mahe Monument, a large, admiral like statue which commemorate Indonesian Navy
Mpu Tantular Museum, has a large collection of ancient Javanese artifact
Surabaya is second most populous city in Indonesia, after Jakarta. Most of its population is Javanese people. Notable minorities is Madurese from nearby Madura Island and Chinese Indonesian.
Most citizen speak a unique dialect of Javanese called Surabayan. This dialect is noted for equality and directness in speech. The usage of register is less strict than Central Javan dialect. The Surabaya dialect is actively promoted in local media, such as in local TV show, radio and traditional drama called Loedroek.
Urbanization is strong because of many industries in the city. As a result there was a large slum area.
Surabaya has several major universities and other institutions with religious or technical specialties. One of them is Airlangga University (Unair), the oldest and largest public university in eastern Java, with eleven departments in a variety of fields, including an especially well-regarded medical school.
The Electronic Engineering Polytechnic Institute of Surabaya (EEPIS) is well-known for its robotics.
The Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember is one of the country’s most selective technology institutions, and is well-known for its mechanical engineering, and marine engineering programs. As one of the Indonesian military’s major naval ports, Surabaya is the site of the national Naval Military Academy.
Madurese form a significant portion of the city’s population – estimates are between 25% and 33%, and the Madurese language influences the Surabayan dialect of Javanese spoken in the streets.