Bantam, the westernmost residency of the island of Java, Dutch East Indies, bounded W. by the Strait of Sunda, N. by the Java sea, E. by the residencies of Batavia and Preanger, and S. by the Indian Ocean. It also includes Princes Island and Dwars-in-den-weg ("right-in-the-way") Island in Sunda Strait, as well as several smaller islands along the coasts. Bantam had a population in 1897 of 709,339, including 302 Europeans, 1959 Chinese and 89 Arabs and other Asiatic foreigners. The natives are Sundanese, except in the northern or Serang division, where they are Javanese. The coast is low-lying and frequently marshy. The northern portion of the residency constitutes the most fertile portion, is generally flat with a hilly group in the middle, where the two inactive volcanoes, Karang and Pulosari, are found, while the north-western corner is occupied by the isolated Gede Mountain. The southern portion is covered by the Kendang (Malay for "range") Mountains extending into the Preanger. The rivers are only navigable at their mouths. Various geysers and cold and warm sulphur springs are found in the centre of the residency, and on a ridge of the Karang Mountain is the large crater-lake Dano, a great part of which was drained by the government in 1835 for rice cultivation.
Pulse (kachang), rice and coffee are the principal products of cultivation; but in the days of government culture sugar, indigo and especially pepper were also largely grown. The former considerable fishing and coasting trade was ruined by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, a large stretch of coast line and the seaport towns of Charingin and Anjer being destroyed by the inundation. The prosperity of the residency was further affected by a cattle plague in 1879, followed by a fever epidemic which carried off 50,000 people, and except in the rice season there is a considerable emigration of natives. Bantam contains five native regencies or territorial divisions, namely, Serang, Anjer, Pandeglang, Charingin, Lebak. The principal towns are Serang, the capital of the residency, Chilegon, Pandeglang, Menes and Rangkas Betug. The chief town, Serang, is situated 2&FRAC12; m. from Bantam Bay on the high road from Batavia. The port of Serang is Karangantu, on Bantam Bay, and close by is the old ruined town of Bantam, once the capital of the kingdom of Bantam, and before the foundation of Batavia the principal commercial port of the Dutch East India Company. The ruins include the remains of the former pepper warehouses, the old factory, called Fort Speelwijk, belonging to the company, the fortified palace of the former sultans and a well-preserved mosque thought to have been built by the third Mahommedan ruler of Bantam about 1562-1576, and containing the tombs of various princes of Bantam. Before the Dutch conquest Bantam was a powerful Mahommedan state, whose sovereign extended his conquests in the neighbouring islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In 1595 the Dutch expelled the Portuguese and formed their first settlement.
A British factory was established in 1603 and continued to exist till the staff was expelled in 1682. In 1683 the Dutch reduced the sultan to vassalage, built the fort of Speelwijk and monopolized the port, which had previously been free to all comers; and for more than a century afterwards Bantam was one of the most important seats of commerce in the East Indies. In 1811 after Batavia had surrendered to the British, Bantam soon followed; but it was restored to the Dutch in 1814. Two years later, however, they removed their chief settlement to the more elevated station of Serang, or Ceram, 7 m. inland, and in 1817 the ruin of Bantam was hastened by a fire.
For "Bantam" fowls see Poultry.