The Richest, Fascinating & Most Lush Island

The richest, most lush and most densely populated of Indonesia’s countless islands, Java has an extraordinary diverse landscape, from towering volcanoes to dense forest, manicured rice paddies and teeming cities. Java is the site of Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, as well as the Central Javanese cultural capital city of Yogyakarta. Once the center of powerful Hindu kingdom, Islamic sultanates and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies, Java now plays a dominant role in the economic and political life of Indonesia.

Measuring 620 miles long and 40,125 miles wide, the island of Java was formed by a long and active history of volcanic activity. Java is the 13th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in Indonesia. This facinating island has long been a melting pot of religions and cultures, creating a broad range of religious belief through the ages. Influences frim India arrived first with Hindu Shivaism and Buddhis penetrating deeply into society, blending with indigenous tradition and culture. Islam next entered Java in the early 11th century, grew steadily and today 90% of Javanese people are Muslims. This ancient and diverse cultural heritage still remains in the form of many important archaeological and colonial sites, the foremost being World Heritage site Borobudur in Central Java.

Java also produce the world’s finest batik textiles (the word is derived from Javanese meaning fine point, but in practice means wax). Batik is used for everyday attire as well as formal clothing and for decorative purposes. Other particularly outstanding Javanese art forms include dance, music, sculpture and painting.

Java is the political, geographic and economic center of Indonesia. With an area of 132,000 sq km, Java is a little over half the size of the island of Great Britain, but its population of 115 million is almost double Britain’s. Java is divided into four provinces : West Java, Banten, Central Java and East Java. Yogyakarta is located in the southern part of Central Java and has a special privilege to be a special region.

Heritage and Culture

Lying between Sumatra and Bali, Java is widely known as the most populous island in the world. She is home to bustling Jakarta as well as slower-paced natural beauties like Yogyakarta where travellers go for a truly immersive arts and cultural experience, offering them a glimpse into the multi-faceted history of Indonesia.

Javanese culture is centered in the Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java provinces of Indonesia. Being the largest ethnic group, the Javanese culture and people influence Indonesian politics and culture, a process sometimes described as Javanization.


Javanese literature tradition is among the earliest and the oldest surviving literature traditions in Indonesia. The translations of Hindu epic Ramayana and Mahabharata into old Javanese language took place during the era of Medang Kingdom and Kediri kingdom around 9th to 11th century. The Smaradhana is also composed during Kediri kingdom, and it became the prelude of later Panji cycles that spread as far as Siam and Cambodia. Other literary works include, Ken Arok and Ken Dedes, based upon Pararaton, the story of the orphan who usurped his king, and married the queen of the ancient Javanese kingdom.

During the reign of Majapahit several notable works was produced. Nagarakretagama describes Majapahit during its height. Kakawin Sutasoma, written by Mpu Tantular during the reign of the Majapahit. It is the source of the motto of Indonesia, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which is usually translated as Unity in Diversity, although literally it means ‘(Although) in pieces, yet One’. The kakawin teaches religious tolerance, specifically between the Hindu and Buddhist religions.

Other works includes Babad Tanah Jawi is a literature which relates to the spread of Islam in Java and Babad Dipanagara which tells the story of Prince Diponegoro.

The Temple

Borobudur is the Uncesco World Heritage site is one to behold. Built during the 8th and 9th century by the Syailendra Dynasty, this Buddhist monument was built with the aid of mortar nor glue. Standing at an impressive 30 metres tall, the temple is home over 500 Buddha statues, and stone carvings found throughout the premise depict the life of Buddha.

The Prambanan Temple Compounds are four temples; Prambanan Temple, Sewu Temple, Lumbung Temple and Bubrah Temple. This Unesco World Heritage Site is Indonesia’s largest compound dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu deity.

Su temple is dedicated to Buddha Vairocana, the statue which used to sit in the main chamber is no longer there. That said, the temple remains the second largest dedicated to Buddhism, and restoration efforts now allows visitors to explore the temple’s compounds.

Yogyakarta Palace, Tte grand palace, or what is locally referred to the Keraton, is the official residence of the Sultan of Yogyakarta. It is open to visitors in the morning, allowing them to explore the grounds and witness the intricate melding of the city’s rich Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influence through its architecture and artwork.

Water Castle, formerly known as the garden for the Sultan of Yoyakarta, the Tamansari mosque, resting and bathing space as well as underground tunnels are now open to visitors. Perhaps the most interesting story is that the bathing spaces used to be where the potential wives of the Sultan would bathe, whilst he picked which he would marry as his queen or concubine

Java Archeology

Trinil Fossils

In October 1887, Dubois abandoned his academic career and left for the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) to look for the fossilised ancestor of modern man. Having received no funding from the Dutch government for his eccentric endeavour he joined the Dutch East Indies Army as a military surgeon. Because of his work duties, it was only in July 1888 that he began to excavate caves in Sumatra. Having quickly found abundant fossils of large mammals, Dubois was relieved of his military duties (March 1889), and the colonial government assigned two engineers and fifty convicts to help him with his excavations. After he failed to find the fossils he was looking for on Sumatra, he moved on to Java in 1890.

Again assisted by convict labourers and two army sergeants, Dubois began searching along the Solo River near Trinil in August 1891. His team soon excavated a molar (Trinil 1) and a skullcap (Trinil 2). Its characteristics were a long cranium with a sagittal keel and heavy browridge. Dubois first gave them the name Anthropopithecus (“man-ape”), as the chimpanzee was sometimes known at the time. He chose this name because a similar tooth found in the Siwalik Hills in India in 1878 had been named Anthropopithecus, and because Dubois first assessed the cranium to have been about 700 cubic centimetres (43 cu in), closer to apes than to humans.

In August 1892, a year later, Dubois’s team found a long femur (thighbone) shaped like a human one, suggesting that its owner had stood upright. The femur bone was found 50 feet (aprox. 15 meters) from the original find one year earlier. Believing that the three fossils belonged to a single individual, “probably a very aged female”, Dubois renamed the specimen Anthropopithecus erectus. Only in late 1892, when he determined that the cranium measured about 900 cubic centimetres (55 cu in), did Dubois consider that his specimen was a transitional form between apes and humans. In 1894,[11] he thus renamed it Pithecanthropus erectus (“upright ape-man”), borrowing the genus name Pithecanthropus from Ernst Haeckel, who had coined it a few years earlier to refer to a supposed “missing link” between apes and humans. This specimen has also been known as Pithecanthropus 1.

There were also three human skulls found at the site, which led Dubois to determine the skull of the ”Java man” to belong to a gibbon, or gibbon-like ape.

Other discoveries on Java

After the discovery of Java Man, Berlin-born paleontologist G. H. R. von Koenigswald recovered several other early human fossils in Java. Between 1931 and 1933 von Koenigswald discovered fossils of Solo Man from sites along the Bengawan Solo River on Java, including several skullcaps and cranial fragments. In 1936, von Koenigswald discovered a juvenile skullcap known as the Mojokerto child in East Java. Considering the Mojokerto child skull cap to be closely related to humans, von Koenigswald wanted to name it Pithecanthropus modjokertensis (after Dubois’s specimen), but Dubois protested that Pithecanthropus was not a human but an “ape-man”.

Von Koenigswald also made several discoveries in Sangiran, Central Java, where more fossils of early humans were discovered between 1936 and 1941. Among the discoveries was a skullcap of similar size to that found by Dubois at the Trinil 2 site. Von Koenigswald’s discoveries in Sangiran convinced him that all these skulls belonged to early humans. Dubois again refused to acknowledge the similarity. Ralph von Koenigswald and Franz Weidenreich compared the fossils from Java and Zhoukoudian and concluded that Java Man and Peking Man were closely related. Dubois died in 1940, still refusing to recognize their conclusion, and official reports remain critical of the Sangiran site’s poor presentation and interpretation.

Java Vulcanology

The Indonesian island of Java is almost entirely of volcanic origin, and contains numerous volcanoes, 45 of which are considered active volcanoes. As is the case for many other Indonesian islands, volcanoes have played a vital role in the geological and human history of Java. Indeed, land is created on Java as a result of lava flows, ash deposits, and mud flows (lahars).

Volcanoes are a major contributor to the immense fertility of Java, as natural erosion transports volcanic material as alluvium to the island’s plains, forming thick layers of fertile sediment. The benefit is not just in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, with fine ash emitted from eruptions being dispersed over wide areas.

Climbing volcanoes (and other mountains) is increasingly popular.