Java - The Island

Java - The Island

I had always associated the word "Java" with the programming language or a cup of coffee. It only occurred to me tonight that it is indeed a name for an island as well. Upon reading this Wikipedia entry on Java, I also discovered Java coffee is coffee made from the beans on the island. Java is a long, narrow island in the East Indies. It lies between the Sea of Java and the Indian Ocean. It is one of the largest islands of the Republic of Indonesia.

The island of Java has an area of 48,763 square miles, which is about the size of the state of Louisiana. Though Java is not very big, it is one of the most crowded places in the world. Fifty-eight million people live there, more than 19 times as many as live in Louisiana! Part of the island is too mountainous for people to make their homes, and near the coasts there are swamps and thick jungles, so that all of the people are crowded into a very small place.

The People of Java

The people of Java are Malays. They are small and handsome. They have dark skin and eyes and straight black hair, and they are very graceful. Groups of dancers from Java have traveled all over the world and delighted thousands of people with their strange and exciting dances. The Javanese people are also known for a special kind of shadow play in which they use puppets that they hold behind a screen, so that shadows appear on the screen. This is a favorite entertainment in Java.

There are many skilled artists here too. They make beautiful jewelry or silver and gold. They also make a special kind of fine cloth that is called batik. It is dyed in patterns of bright colors.

Most of the people of Java are farmers and raise rice, rubber, sugar, coffee, and many other crops. Things grow so well in Java that the people are able to grow more than enough food for themselves, so their crops help feed people of other countries. They also send quinine and teak wood to other parts of the world. The people of java buy machines and iron and steel and cloth from other countries, and they use these things to build up their island.

Some people in Java work in coal and silver and gold mines, while others raise kapok trees. Pod from these trees contain a soft, fluffy down that is used to stuff pillows and mattresses, to make life jackets, and for other purposes.

Some Chinese people and Arabs also live in Java. Most of the people are members of the Mohammedan religion. They speak a Malay language called Bhasa Indonesia.

What Java is Like

The level lands of Java are very fertile and have a lot of rain. There are many volcanic mountains and some of these great volcanoes are still active. Sometimes they explode and send forth lava, fire and smoke. Many people of Java have lost their lives in these eruptions. The weather in Java is warm, with a temperature of about 80 degrees all year round; though high up in the mountains it is much colder.

Panthers, tigers and other wild animals make their home in the jungles near the coasts of the island. There are many enormous insects and gorgeous birds and flowers.

There are many small streams on the island. The Solo River is the most important waterway. Boats can travel on this river from one part of the island to another. Roads lead from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, on Java Island, to nearly every part of Java, and there are several railroads and airports.

The people in most parts of Java live very simply, but the city of Jakarta is quite modern. The University of Indonesia is there. It includes colleges of law, medicine, and agriculture.

Java in the Past

Men have lived on Java for many thousands of years. This was proved over a century ago when Eugene Dubois, a Dutch scientist, discovered the bones of a primitive man believed to have lived between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago. Dubois named this early man Pithecanthropus Erectus, which means that he stood erect as men do today. This early man is usually called the Java Man.

Almost two thousand years ago, Java was occupied by Hindus from India. In Java you can still see the ruins of some of the magnificent religious monuments and palaces built by Indian princes.

About 550 years ago Mohammedan invaders conquered Java. Later it became the property of the Dutch.