Java (Djawa), an island of the Dutch East Indies, the seat of the colonial government, separated from Borneo by the Sea of Java, and from Sumatra by the Straits of Sunda. It extends almost due west and east, and is crossed by 110° E. long, and 7° S. lat. Its length is 600 miles, its breadth 40 to 125 miles, and its area 49,000 sq. m. (excluding Madura, q.v.)- From end to end of the island (most probably corresponding to a volcanic line of fissure) there is a mountain-chain, Gunung Kendang, attaining 12,000 feet; of forty-three volcanoes, several are still active. The climate is rather hot and unhealthy on the coast, but pleasant in the hills. The thermometer seldom indicates more than 95° F., the nights, especially in the highlands, are cool. The population of Java has rapidly increased; in 1850 it was 9,570,000, and in 1900 (with Madura) it was 28,746,638, including 50,000 Europeans (and half-castes), 300,000 Chinese, 17,000 Arabs, and 3500 Hindus. The natives belong to the Malay race. The Madurese, in the eastern part of the island, the Sundanese, living in the western part, and the Javanese proper differ in physique and in language. Most of them are Mohammedans, at least in name. There are about 12,000 native Christians. One of the chief vices is opium-smoking, which yields about £1,000,000 a year for licenses and profit on the import.
The chief wealth of Java consists in its luxuriant vegetation. The fauna is not very rich: tigers, rhinoceros, deer, and wild swine are types ; only a few birds are conspicuous for their plumage, and hardly any are distinguished for their song. Several species of serpents (some venomous) and crocodiles are found on the island. A little gold is found ; silver is scarce; salt (a government monopoly) is prepared from sea-water; and coal is worked in the Preanger, and marble in the Madiun residency. Under the 'culture-system,' established by the Dutch in 1830, the natives are compelled to cultivate part of the ground and plant staple articles on it, whilst the produce is delivered at a fixed price to the magazines of the government. The system though highly profitable, has always evoked disapproval as being unfair to the natives. Sugar, coffee, indigo, tea, and tobacco are planted for export. Rice is grown mainly for native consumption. The teak-forests belong exclusively to the government. Java may be considered the centre of the commerce and trade of a great part of the Dutch East Indies. The countries which trade most extensively with Java are Holland, the Straits Settlements, and Great Britain. The chief imports are cotton and linen goods, wine and spirits, provisions, machinery, railway-plant, etc. There are 1120 miles of railway, and an extensive telegraphic system. The island is divided into twenty-one residencies - two of which (Sura-karta and Jokjakarta) are under native princes. Madura constitutes a twenty-second residency.
The earliest historical references date back to the beginning of the 5th century a.d. About the year 800 the intercourse of the Hindus with the island appears to have become more important. Already by that time the Javanese had attained to a considerable degree of civilisation, and many antiquities were left by the early Hindu conquerors, especially in middle and eastern Java (Boro Budor, Brambanan, Dieng). There were three periods of Hindu ascendency - a period of Buddhism, a period of Sivaism, and a period of compromise. At the beginning of the 15th century Mohammedanism reached the island and quickly got a firm footing. At the end of the 16th century European merchant-adventurers established themselves in Java; whilst the Dutch rule dates from 1610. Then began a long, tough struggle with the natives, but Java was practically a Dutch possession by 1811 when, until 1817, the English occupied it in connection with the French war.
See the exhaustive work by Veth (in Dutch, 3 vols. 1875-78); the history by Sir Stamford Raffles (1817); Wallace's Malay Archipelago (new ed. 1894); the novel, Max Havclaar (trans. 1868), by 'Multatuli;' and books by Worsfold (1893), Scidmore (1S98), and Clive Day (1904).