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Java Island

Java is the most populated island in the world. It is an island of Indonesia and consists of a population of nearly 136 million residents according to a 2013 census of the island. Nearly 60% of those individuals that reside in Indonesia live on Java Island. For that reason the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, was declared on the western most side of the island. It is also the place where the economy, politics, and culture dominate Indonesia.

Formation

Java is considered to be a “high island.” This is an island that was formed as the direct result of volcanic eruptions. The east and west side of the island form volcanic mountains. Java differs from other islands in the region that are known as “low islands” which were made from the lifting of coral reefs. These types of islands generally cannot be inhabited. The formation of Java Island from volcanic eruptions established it as the thirteenth largest island in the entire world.

Origins of the Islands Name

There are several ideas surrounding the naming of the island. Many historians believe that the island was named after a common plant that was located on the island when it was formed. This is the jawa-wut plant. Others believe that the island's name comes from a Proto-Austronesian word that is literally translated as “home.”

Provinces

There are four provinces that make up Java Island. These provinces are West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Banten. There are two regions of the island that are considered to be “special.” These regions are Jakarta, which is the capitol of Indonesia and Yogyakarta.

General Geography

Java is located between Sumatra on the west, Bali on the east, Borneo on the north, and Christmas Island on the south. The Java Sea lies to the north of the island while the Sunda Strait lies to the west. The Indian Ocean lies to the south of the island and both the Bali Strait and the Madura Strait lie to the east of the island.

Mountain Ranges

As a direct result of the volcanic formation of the island, thirty-eight mountains are located on the island. There are also active volcanoes on the island with Mount Merapi being the most active and visited on the island.

Isolated Crop Growth

Due to the manner in which these islands formed, they created many isolated regions. These isolated regions have made the growing of wet-rice possible and also make Java the richest in the world when it comes to this cash crop. The land is also perfect for the growth of coffee. This island is where the first of the popular Indonesian coffee was grown.

Size

The size of the island is roughly 650 miles in length and 130 miles in width. The Solo River is the longest and largest on the island clocking in at 600 kilometers in length. This river rises from the Lawu volcano.

Temperatures

The general temperature of the island is anywhere from 22 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius. The humidity of the island averages in at 75%. Those residents that are looking for warmer temperatures tend to populate the northern part of the island which is generally 34 degrees Celsius during the dry season.

Languages

There are three main languages that are spoken and culturally accepted on Java Island. Javanese is the most dominant of the three. Nearly 60 million people that make up the island speak this language. However, most people that reside on Java Island are bilingual and also speak Indonesian as either their first or second language.

Natural Environment

Java Island is considered to be a tropical rainforest. It contains a variety of ecosystems. These include mangrove forests, rocky coastal cliffs, and low-lying tropical conditioned rainforests. The exact environment ranges based on the part of the island as the climate is hotter in some areas and is also wetter in others.

Wildlife

Biodiversity is plentiful on Java Island. There are many types of wildlife and flora all around the island. Again, these elements vary based on the exact side of the island where they are located and the temperature and water condition of the area. Many of the most popular animals found on the island include the Javan rhinoceros, the Java warty pig, the Java mouse-deer, and the Javan hawk-eagle. There are also over 450 different types of birds that can be found on Java Island. That is why many birdwatchers from around the world tend to frequent the island.

National Parks on Java Island

As more and more people frequented the island of Java and the wildlife began to vary due to man taking over the area and setting up businesses, homes, and crops, the island went out of their way to establish several major national parks in order to protect the animals and flora of the island. The most popular of these national parks are Alas Purwo, Ujung Kulon, Mount Halimun-Salak, Baluran, and Meru Betiri.

Ethnicity

Though the island of Java is very diverse when it comes to ethnic groups, there are only two groups that are actually native to the island. These are the Javanese and Sundanese. There is also a third ethnic group known as the Madurese that inhabit an island known as Madura that is located off the northeastern coast of the island. These individuals began migrating to the island during the 18th century.

Economy

When the ancient kingdoms of Tarumanagara, Mataram, and Msjapahit ruled Java Island, the economy was based on the rich rice culture of the land. In fact, they were at one time the number one supplier of rice in the world. This is why the population of the island grew so quickly. This resulted in trading with India and China. The economy during this time also weighed heavily on plant life found on Java island including sugarcane, coffee, and tea to name a few. In fact, so much coffee came from the island that it is commonly referred to a “Java” around the world. To this day rice and coffee are the two main exports that provide the most money for Java Island.

Transportation

Due to the mass production and export of coffee and rice from the island, there are many types of transportation that can be found. These include the “Java Great Post Road,” highway networks, and harbors. The main forms of transportation are road vehicles and boats of all types.

Religion

Java is typically referred to as a Muslim island even though it contains a wide variety of religious beliefs. There are a total of 63 recognized religious sects on the island. The first beliefs of the island contained Indian influences. This included Shaivism and Buddhism. These belief systems then began to mingle with the general traditions and cultures of the indigenous people of the island. One of the most known conduits that formed many of the island's beliefs were the Resi. These individuals taught what are now referred to as “mystical practices.” They were known to care for their “master's” needs and also were known to set forth the first political systems on the island.

Muslim Domination

Nearly 90% of those individuals that reside on Java Island are practicing Muslims. However, many Javan traditions on the island have led Islam on the island in mystical directions. This has resulted in many divisions between the various Muslim groups on the island. However, those Muslim groups that do reside on the island are very peaceful and respectful of those that believe differently than them.

Christianity

There are many Christian communities located throughout Java Island. In fact, Christianity has been on the rise on the island in recent years. This includes all types of Christianity with a strong emphasis on Roman Catholic beliefs. Many of these Christian traditions are a direct result of mission trips that were conducted since the founding of the island.

Tourism

Java Island is the most visited locales in Indonesia. Every year thousands upon thousands of tourist's descend upon the island in search of entertainment, fun, and relaxation. There are many events, festivals, and activities that visitors to the island can get involved in if they take their time when planning a trip to the island. However, most people that come to the island come to take in the culture and to spend time exploring the rainforests, mountains, and volcanoes that make-up the island.

Culture and Art

Due to the various descendants and tribes that are located on the island, there is all types of art and culture that make-up the island. According to the specific part of the island a person chooses to visit they will discover a varying degree of art and culture. That is why most people that visit Java Island for the first time will elect to visit all sides of the island in order to gain a full understanding of the complete culture and art of the island.

Historic Art of the Banten Province

When visiting the Banten province of the island one will see a great deal of anti-modernity when it comes to art and tradition. This part of the island consists of the Baduy tribe. Their art is very rich and colorful and can be seen in their general art, pottery, and even in their garments. They are also very rich in martial arts and combine their art with dance and voice. For this reason many people looking to discover the rich art of the island immediately visit the Banten province.

Historic Art and Culture of the Central Java Province

Since the majority of people that live on the island reside in Central Java, they are known as the center of culture. When visiting this area one will immediately discover a wide variety of historic palaces. Many people that visit Java will plan a day trip to these palaces to explore and to discover the rich culture and art that make-up these unique landmarks. Music is also very popular on this part of the island. One of the most popular and sought after instruments on the island is the gamelan orchestra.

East Java Art and Culture

East Java is known to have some of most unique art. There are opera art shows known as Ludruk that consist of all male performers. These operas generally chronicle the day to day struggles of the common people of the island and don't focus on the history of the island as most operas in Central Java are known to do. There are also many dance shows that are performed in this part of the island that are frequented by both locals and tourists.

Puppetry

One of the most popular forms of entertainment on Java Island is the Wayang or Javanese puppet. These puppets have been used since ancient times to entertain not only children but also adults. These include traditional puppets and even shadow puppets. They also have a puppet known as the Wayang Orang that is played by men. These puppet shows are generally explored and watched by those that travel to Java Island for the first time.

Islands | Travel | Indonesia


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