Surabaya, Indonesia

Reference work entry


Surabaya is Indonesia’s second largest city and its chief naval base. It is the capital and economic centre of the province Jawa Timur and is on the northeast coast of Java opposite Madura Island. The Mas River runs through the city centre.


There are records of Chinese trading vessels landing at Surabaya from the ninth century. Surabaya’s foundation day is the 31 May 1293 when a local chief beat an army sent by Genghis Khan to occupy East Java, following which the city turned into a famous port. From 1743, Surabaya developed into a Dutch East India trading centre. In 1905, Surabaya was declared as a municipality and in 1926 it became the capital of East Java. In 1942–45, Surabaya was occupied by the Japanese and the city was heavily bombed.

Modern City

The port, Tanjungperak, is next to Indonesia’s chief naval station, Ujung. Exports include sugar, coffee, cassava, spices, vegetable oils, teak, tobacco, rubber and petroleum products. There is also a fishing fleet. Industries include railways, petroleum refineries, metal production and shoe factories. The rail and road system links Surabaya to the western and eastern coasts of Java. There is an international airport at Tanjungperak. The university (Airlangga University), founded in 1954, has law, medicine and dental surgery faculties. There is also a naval college and the Tenth of November Institute of Technology.

Places of Interest

Pemuda Street is Surabaya’s business, shopping and historical hub. The Grahadi, formerly the residence of the Dutch colonial governor, is still used as the official residence of the governor of East Java. The Kali Mas (River of Gold) is at the edge of the city. The Ampel Mosque, East Java’s oldest, lies in the Kampung Arab (Kasbah Quarter), the heart of the old city. The Chinese temple Hok An Kong is three centuries old. Surabaya Zoo, one of the most complete in South East Asia, was founded by the Dutch in 1912 and has 500 species. There is a flower market (Kayun) and an ethnographic archaeological museum (Mpu Tantular Museum).

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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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