A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

J is for … Javanese

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World


Javanese is the spoken language of over 75 million people in the central and eastern parts of the island of Java, in Indonesia. It is also spoken in Malaysia, the Netherlands, and in Singapore. In addition, there are Javanese settlements in Papua, Sulawesi, Maluku, Kalimantan, and Sumatra. Javanese is also spoken in Suriname and New Caledonia. It was originally spoken there by Javanese plantation workers brought from Indonesia by the Dutch. Their descendants still speak a variety of Javanese that differs from the one currently spoken in Java.

Although it not an official language of Indonesia, Javanese is recognised as a regional language in three provinces of Java with the largest concentrations of speakers of Javanese, namely, Central Java, East Java, and Yogyakarta where it is taught in schools, used in religious practice and in electronic and print media. Javanese is also used as a literary language in Madura, Bali, Lombok, and West Java. Javanese is used as a spoken and communal language in suburban and rural areas of Java, and in some parts the urban communities. Indonesian is used in media such as TV, newspapers and magazines, while Javanese is used only on certain programs on the radio or television and in certain newspaper columns.

Fascinating facts about Java

By land mass size, Java is the world’s 13th largest island, and fifth largest Indonesian Island. It was formed mainly by volcanic eruptions and has an east-west chain of them along the island.

Java is split into four provinces: East Java, Central Java, West Java, and Banten. Javanese and Indonesian are spoken there.

With more than 450 different bird species, Java is a bird watcher’s paradise.

During the colonial periods of the 17th century, the Dutch introduced commercial cultivation of sugarcane, rubber, tea and coffee plants in Java. In the 19th and early 20th century, Javanese coffee gained global popularity. This is why the name “Java” is commonly considered synonymous with coffee.

Located on the northwest coast of Java, Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia and its largest city. With a population of more than 10 million, Jakarta is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, leading to Car Free Days on certain Sundays, and the world’s longest bus rapid transit routes.

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