The smallest in the group of Greater Sunda Islands, but with a population of 140 million people, Java is one of most populated places on the globe. The island is located in the Malay Archipelago and is a major economic region of Indonesia. The length from west to east is about 1,000 kilometers, with a maximum width of 192 kilometers. The island's area is 126.5 thousand square kilometers. In the north the island is washed by the Java Sea, in the east Bali Strait is found separating Java from the island of Bali, in the south by the Indian Ocean, and to the west is the Sunda strait separating Java from Sumatra. Approximately half of the Java territory is covered by mountains. The mountain belt of different eras stretches in the south, mostly composed of limestone. More than 100 volcanoes, about 30 of which are active, rising above the low mountains. More than ten volcanoes exceeding the altitude of 3,000 meters, the highest of them is Semeru, 3,676 meters. In volcanic areas along the northern coast of Java, there are oil deposits, in the southern part of the island sulfur, manganese ore, phosphates, and gold. The air temperature on the coast throughout the year is 26o to 27° Celsius, while at an altitude of 1,500 meters it averages around 18° Celsius, and at an altitude of 3,000 meters about 9° Celsius.
In ancient times, the island was strongly influenced by Indian culture and spirituality, as evidenced by the large temple complexes which are there up to the date. With the spread of Islam across the Asia, most of the island's population began to follow this religion. The island of Java is also famous with the largest of the all existing Buddhist monument, the Borobudur, which attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. In the ancient Indian epic Ramayana of the 2nd Century, the island of Java was referred to as Javadvipa, meaning millet island (dvipa - the island, Java - millet), and is now part of the Indonesian nation.
A favorable sub-equatorial monsoon climate, natural abundance and popular commodity of tea, coffee, and sugar cane contributed to production development and influenced the growth of island's population. Approximately a quarter of the island is covered by forests. The rivers of Java island are quite deep, especially in the rainy season, and mainly used for irrigation. The main rivers flow into the Java Sea. These include the Solo river, at 260 kilometers long, and the Brantas, which flows near the city of Surabaya, and irrigates vast sugarcane plantations. The Progo River flows into the Indian Ocean. Among the crops most common in Java are rice, sugar cane, coconut palm, bananas, pepper, vanilla, and various tropical fruits, as well as corn, tobacco, coffee and tea. Major Javan cities include Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, in addition to Bandung, Yogyakarta, Semarang, and Surabaya.
Habitat and Biodiversity
Wet equatorial forests whose height reaches up to 50 meters, spread in the mountainous west. Woods are of the tremendous diversity of species. The forests are inhabited by monkeys, deer, and wild boars, while there are also rhinoceroses, tigers, leopards, banteng oxen, and others. A variety of birds, reptiles, and insects are also abundant. Flora and fauna of Java are protected in many natural parks.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
High rates of the island's population growth and threateningly high levels of poverty have led to a number of environmental problems, aggravated by rapid industrialization. The main problem lies in the large-scale deforestation, which apart from being damaging to the ecosystems, also carries a the threat of serious legal ramifications for the illegal felling of trees. Over the last century, the increasingly widespread use of palm oil in food production has contributed to the destruction of forests in the process of supporting commercial oil palm plantations. Disappearing forests and the drainage of peatlands turning Java into the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions for the whole region of Greater Sunda Islands.
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