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Central Java (Indonesian: Provinsi Jawa Tengah) is a province of Indonesia. The administrative capital is Semarang. It is one of the six provinces of the island of Java. Central Java is both a political entity and a cultural concept. Culturally and historically Yogyakarta is a significant part of Central Java. However administratively the city and surrounding region has been part of a separate special region after Indonesian independence. In the same context, but in contrast - the region of Surakarta is a significant incorporated component of Central Java.
The province of Central Java is 32,548.20 km² in area; approximately a quarter of the total land area of Java. Its population is 31,820,000 (2005), making it the third most-populous province in Indonesia after West Java and East Java, and constituting approximately one quarter of the island's population.
Central Java lies on the island of Java, it is bordered by West Java on the west and East Java on the east. To the north the province faces the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean to the south. The special region of Yogyakarta lies on the southern side of the island, fully enclosed bordered by Central Java province. Historically and culturally, Yogyakarta is part of the Central Java region, although it is a separate political entity.
The average temperature in Central Java is between 18 and 28 degrees celsius and the relative humidity varies between 73 percent and 94 percent. While a high level of humidity exists in most low lying parts of the province, it drops significantly in the upper reaches of the mountains where it drops significantly as do average temperatures. A highest average annual rainfall of 3,990 mm was recorded in the Special Station of Agricultural Meteorology in Salatiga with 195 rainy days.
The geography of Central Java is regular with small strips of lowlands near the northern and southern coast with mountain ranges in the centre of the region. To the west lies Mount Slamet, an active stratovolcano. Then a bit further to the east lies Dieng Volcanic Complex on the Dieng Plateau. South east of the Dieng plateau - on the east side of the Kedu Plain lie the Mount Merapi-Merbabu stratovolcanoes. To the north, south of Semarang, lies Mount Ungaran. To the north-east of Semarang lies Mount Muria on the most northern tip of Java. To the east near the border with East Java, lies Mount Lawu. The western slopes are in Central Java while the eastern slopes are in East Java.
Because of the presence of many volcanoes and therefore volcanic ash, Central Java is a very fertile region, sight of extensive paddy fields is common, except in the south-eastern - Gunung Kidul region, part due to the high concentration of limestone, also due to its location in a rain shadow from the prevailing weather.
Two major rivers flow through Central Java; Serayu in the west which empties in the Indian Ocean and the Solo River, which empties in the Java Sea near Surabaya in East Java.
On the eve of the World War II in 1942, Central Java was subdivided into 7 residencies (Dutch residentie or plural residenties, Javanese karésiḍènan or karésidhènan) which correspond more or less with the main regions of this area. These residencies were Banjoemas, Kedoe, Pekalongan, Semarang, and Djapara-Rembang added with the so called Gouvernement Soerakarta and Gouvernement Jogjakarta. However after the local elections in 1957 the role of these regencies were reduced until they finally disappeared
Nowadays Central Java (excluding Yogyakarta) is divided in 29 regencies (kabupaten) and 6 cities (kota, previously kotamadya and kota pradja). A regency can also be called a rural district while an autonomous city is an urban district. Below are regencies and autonomous cities of Central Java:
Regencies: Banjarnegara, Banyumas, Batang, Blora, Boyolali, Brebes, Cilacap, Demak, Grobogan, Jepara, Karanganyar, Kebumen, Kendal, Klaten, Kudus, Magelang, Pati, Pekalongan, Pemalang, Purbalingga, Purworejo, Rembang, Semarang, Sragen, Sukoharjo, Tegal, Temanggung, Wonogiri, Wonosobo
Cities: Magelang, Pekalongan, Salatiga, Semarang, Surakarta, Tegal
These contemporary regencies and cities can further be subdivided into 565 sub-districts (kecamatan). Furthermore sub-districts are subdivided into 7,804 rural communes or "villages" (desa) and 764 urban communes (kelurahan).
As of the 2005 census, Central Java's population stood at some 31,820,000. As of the 1990 census, the population was 28,516,786. So the population has increased approximately 11.6% in 15 years.
The three biggest regencies in terms of population are: Brebes, Banyumas and Cilacap. Together these regencies make up approximately 16% of the Central Javanese population. Major urban population centers are greater Semarang, greater Surakarta and Brebes-Tegal-Slawi area.
A typical Javanese mosque with Meru-like roof (Masjid Sholihin in Surakarta) Officially, in 1990 the majority of the Central Javanese population or about 96%, was nominally Muslims. The second largest religion was Protestantism which was professed by 2% of the population. The remainder of the population was either Catholic, Hindu or Buddhist.
Although the overwhelming majority of Javanese are Muslims, many of them also profess indigenous Javanese beliefs. Clifford Geertz, in his book about the religion of Java made a distinction between the so-called santri Javanese and abangan Javanese. He considered santri Javanese as orthodox Muslims while abangan Javanese are nominal Muslims that devote more energy to indigenous traditions.
Dutch Protestants were active in missionary activities and were rather succesful. The Dutch Catholic Jesuit missionary man, F.G.C. van Lith also achieved some success, especially in areas around the central-southern parts of Central Java and Yogyakarta in the beginning of the 20th century, and he is buried at the Jesuit necropolis at Muntilan.
After the Overthrow of Sukarno in 1965, religious identification of citizens became compulsory. Therefore there has been a renaissance of Buddhism and Hinduism since then. As one has to choose a religion out of the five official religions in Indonesia; i.e. Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, the two latter became alternatives for people who didn't want to be Muslims or Christians.
Confucianism is also common amongst Chinese Indonesians. Since 2006 it is a recognised official religion.
The vast majority of the population in Central Java are ethnic Javanese, they constitute approximately 98% of the whole population.In addition to the Javanese, small pockets of Sundanese communities are to be found near the border with West Java, especially in Brebes and Cilacap regencies. Sundanese toponyms are common in these regions such as Dayeuhluhur in Cilacap, Ciputih and Citimbang in Brebes and even Cilongok as far away in Banyumas.
In urban centers, other minorities such as Chinese Indonesians and Arabs are common. The Chinese are even to be found in rural areas.
As the overwhelming majority of the population of Central Java are Javanese, the most dominant language is Javanese. There are several dialects which are spoken in Central Java, the two main dialects are western Javanese (also called Basa Ngapak or "Banyumasan dialect") and central Javanese.
Sundanese is also spoken in some pockets near the border with West Java, especially in Brebes and Cilacap regencies. However according to some sources, Sundanese used to be spoken as far away as in Dieng Plateau.This former boundary of Sundanese coincides more or less with the isogloss dividing Central Javanese with Western Javanese. Indonesian is widely spoken in offices conversation or between different ethnics.
Central Java is considered to be the heart of the Javanese culture. Home of the Javanese courts, Central Javanese culture formed what non-Javanese see as the "Javanese Culture" along with it stereotypes. The ideal conducts and morals of the courts (such as politeness, nobility and grace) influence the people tremendously. The people of Central Java are known as soft-spoken, very polite, extremely class-conscious, apathetic, down-to-earth, et cetera. These stereotypes formed what most non-Javanese see as "Javanese Culture", when in fact not all of the Javanese people behave that way. Moreover, most Javanese are far from the court culture.
The Javanese culture can be divided into three distinct main regions: Western Javanese, Central Javanese and Eastern Javanese culture or in their Javanese names as Ngapak, Kejawèn and Arèk.
The boundaries of these cultural regions coincide with the isoglosses of the Javanese dialects. Cultural areas west of Dieng Plateau and Pekalongan Regency are considered Ngapak whereas the boundary of the eastern cultural areas or Arèk lies in East Java. Consequently culturally, Central Java consists of two cultures, while the Central Javanese Culture proper is not entirely confined to Central Java.
The architecture of Central Java is characterised by the juxtaposition of the old and the new and a wide variety of architectural styles, the legacy of many successive influences by the Indians, the Persians and the Arabs, the Chinese, and the Europeans. In particular, northern coastal cities such as Semarang, Tegal and Pekalongan can boast fine colonial European architecture. The European and Chinese influence can be seen in Semarang's temple of Sam Po Kong dedicated to Zheng He and the Domed Church built in 1753. The latter is the second oldest church in Java and the oldest in Central Java. Inland Surakarta, as a former capital, also has some fine European architecture.
Famous for its religious heritage, Central Java has some notable religious buildings. The Borobudur and the Prambanan temple complexes are among the largest Buddhist and Hindu structures in the world. In general, a characteristic Javanese mosque doesn't have a dome as its roof but a Meru-like roof instead, which is reminiscent of a Hindu or Buddhist temple. The tower of the famous Mosque of Kudus resembles a Hindu-Javanese or Balinese temple more than a traditional Middle-Eastern mosque.
You can even see the court influences in the art forms. The dances of the courts of Java are usually slow and graceful, with no excessive gestures. The people followed these kind of approach, and as a result, slow-paced and graceful movements can even be found in folk dances throughout Central Java (with some exceptions). You can enjoy the beauty of Central Javanese dances in "Kamajaya-Kamaratih" or "Karonsih", usually performed in a traditional Javanese wedding.
There are several kinds of Central Javanese theater and performing arts. The most well known are is of course the Javanese wayang theater. There are several kinds of Central Javanese wayang, amongst others: wayang kulit, wayang klitik, wayang bèbèr, wayang golèk, and wayang wong. Wayang kulit are shadow puppets theater with leather puppets. The stories are loosely based on Mahabharata and Ramayana cycles. Wayang klitik are puppets theater with flat wooden puppets. The stories are based on Panji stories. Panji was a native Javanese princes who set of in a 'journeys of desire'. Wayang bèbèr is scroll theater, and it involves "performing" scenes of a story elaborately drawn and painted on rolled sheets. Wayang golèk consists of three dimensional wooden puppets. The narrative can be based on anything, but usually the stories are drawn from Islamic heroic narratives. Finally wayang wong is wayang theater involving live figures; actors who are performing a play. The narrative however must be based on Mahabharata or Ramayana.
In addition to wayang, there is another form of theater which is called ketoprak. Ketoprak is a staged play by actors accompanied with Javanese gamelan. The narrative is free but cannot be based on Mahabharata or Ramayana. Otherwise it will be some kind of wayang wong.
Central Javanese music is almost synonymous with gamelan. This is a musical ensemble typically featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings, and vocalists may also be included. The term refers more to the set of instruments than the players of those instruments. A gamelan as a set of instruments is a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together — instruments from different gamelan are not interchangeable. However gamelan is not typically Central Javanese as it is also known somewhere else.
Contemporary Javanese pop music is called campursari. It is a fusion between gamelan and Western instruments, much like kroncong. Usually the lyrics are in Javanese, but not always. One notable singer is Didi Kempot, born in Sragen, north of Surakarta. Didi Kempot mostly sings in Javanese.
It can be argued that Javanese literature started in Central Java. The oldest known literary work in the Javanese language is the Inscription of Sivagrha from Kedu Plain. This inscription which is from 856 AD, is written as a kakawin or Javanese poetry with Indian metres. Then the oldest of narrative poems, Kakawin Ramayana, which tells the well-known story of Ramayana is believed to have come from Central Java. It can be safely asumed that this kakawin must have been written in Central Java in the 9th century.
After the shift of Javanese power to East Java, it had been quiet from Central Java for several centuries, concerning Javanese literature until the 16th century. At this time the centre of power was shifted back to Central Java. The oldest work written in Modern Javanese language concerning Islam is the so-called "Book of Bonang" or also "The Admonitions of Seh Bari". This work is extant in just one manuscript, now kept in the University Library in Leiden, The Netherlands as codex Orientalis 1928. It is asumed that this manuscript originates from Tuban, in East Java and was taken to the Netherlands after 1598. However this work is attributed to Sunan Bonang, one of the nine Javanese saints who spread Islam in Java (Wali Songo) and Sunan Bonang came from Bonang, a place in Demak Regency, Central Java. So it can be argued that this work also mark the beginning of Islamic literature in Central Java.
However the pinnacle of Central Javanese literature was created at the courts of the kings of Mataram in Kartasura and later in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, mostly attributed to the Yasadipura family. The most famous member of this family is Rangga Warsita who lived in the 19th century. He is the best known of all Javanese writers and also one of the most prolific. He is also known as Pujangga Panutup or "the last court poet".
After the Indonesian independence, the Javanese language as a medium was pushed to the background. Still one of the greatest contemporary Indonesian author, Pramoedya Ananta Toer was born in 1925 in Blora, Central Java. He was an Indonesian author of novels, short stories, essays, polemics, and histories of his homeland and its people. A well-regarded writer in the West, Pramoedya's outspoken and often politically charged writings faced censorship in his native land during the pre-reformation era. For opposing the policies of both founding president Soekarno, as well as those of its successor, the New Order regime of Soeharto, he faced extrajudicial punishment. During the many years in which he suffered imprisonment and house arrest, he became a cause célèbre for advocates of freedom of expression and human rights. In his works he writes much about life and social problems in Java.
Rice is the staple food of Central Java. In addition to rice, dried cassava known locally as gaplèk also serve as staple food. Javanese food tends to taste sweet. Cooked and stewed vegetables, usually in coconut milk (santen in Javanese) are popular. Raw vegetable which is popular in West Java is less popular in Central Java.
Saltwater fish, both fresh and dried is common, especially among coastal populations. Freshwater fish is not popular in Central Java, unlike in West Java, except perhaps for catfish known locally as lélé. Catfish is usually fried and served with chilli condiment (sambal) and raw vegetables.
Chicken, goat and beef are common meat. Although the majority of Central Javanese are Muslims, pork is common, especially around Semarang and Surakarta. Dog meat, known by its euphemism daging jamu (literally "traditional medicine meat") is also occasionally eaten by certain parts of the population.
Tofu (Tahu: Indonesian) and tempe serve as common fish and meat replacement. Famous Central Javanese dishes include gudeg (sweet stew of jackfruit) and sayur lodeh (vegetables cooked in coconut milk).
Central Java is home to such notable state universities, as Diponegoro University, Semarang State University, and Walisongo Islamic University (Universitas Islam Negeri Walisongo) in Semarang; Sebelas Maret State University in Surakarta; and Jenderal Soedirman University in Purwokerto.
The Military Academy (Akademi Militer) is located in Magelang Regency while the Police Academy (Akademi Kepolisian) is located in Semarang. Furthermore in Surakarta the Surakarta Institute of Indonesian Arts (Institut Seni Indonesia Surakarta) is located. In addition to these, Central Java has hundreds of other private higher educations, including religious institutions.
For foreign students requiring language training Salatiga has been a location for generations of students attending courses.
The latest numbers on students all over Central Java: Elementary School (4,085,702), Junior High School (790,020), High School (364,558), College and University (125,951).