Putrajaya an "Intelligent Garden City" and the federal administrative capital of Malaysia, is a showcase city under construction some 30 km south of the capital Kuala Lumpur. Her adjacent sister city, Cyberjaya, is built along the same lines, but is aimed at attracting the IT industry. The area was formerly known as Prang Besar.
utrajaya covers a vast sprawl of 4,931 hectares, which were mostly palm plantations before the federal government purchased the lot from the surrounding state of Selangor. The city's masterplan is designed along an axial tangent which runs from the northeast to southeast, with gently undulating terrain. About 40% of Putrajaya is natural, but the landscape has been extensively reworked by man: lush greenery and botanical gardens are spread across the landscape, crisscrossed by large bodies of water and wetlands. Five confluences meet at the north forming a main waterway, the Putrajaya Lake, which flows across the city area.
The project was started in 1993 and the federal capital officially moved in 1999, although the site is still far from complete. Putrajaya became a self-governing federal territory (wilayah persekutuan) in 2001, the third in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur and the little oddball island of Labuan.
The name literally means "princes' (putra) success (jaya)". Officially, the site is named in homage to Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, but odds are it's also a tip of the hat towards the "princes of the soil" (bumiputra), an euphemism for ethnic Malays (as opposed to the richer Chinese minority) and one of the key concepts of Malaysia's affirmative action program.
Ever since the Asian economic crisis of 1998 development has slowed down markedly, and while there aren't any of the rusting half-built concrete shells that still litter KL and Bangkok, the careful eye will spot more than a couple of once cleared and dug-up but now abandoned fields. Basically, the infrastructure is largely in place but the buildings and occupants aren't, leading to the impression of a giant swath of hilly jungle crisscrossed by 8-lane highways with no other cars on them, and the occasional beautifully sculpted lake garden with no people in sight.
That said, the area remains under heavy construction and both people and companies are slowly moving in. As of 2009, the population has surpassed 50,000, although there's still a long way to go to the targeted 300,000. Inevitably, development isn't always occurring in expected ways: Cyberjaya has to date mostly succeeded in attracting call centers and data warehouses, not R&D laboratories. The new twin cities may look very different in 5-10 years' time.