A chain of active volcanic mountains, most densely forested with teak, palms, and other woods, traverses the length of the island from east to west; Mt. Semeru rises to 12,060 ft (3,676 m). There are almost two million acres of planted teak forests; although Java contains only about 3% of the country's forest land, it accounts for much of its timber production. The climate is warm and humid, and the volcanic soil exceptionally fertile, but the island is subject to often deadly earthquakes. There are elaborate irrigation systems supplied by the island's numerous short, turbulent rivers. Found mostly in the interior are such animals as tigers, rhinoceroses, and crocodiles; birds of brilliant plumage are numerous.
Java was a home of early humans (see human evolution); on it were found (1891) the fossilized remains of the so-called Java man, Pithecanthropus erectus. The typically Malayan inhabitants of the island comprise the Javanese (the most numerous), Sudanese, and Madurese. Numerous Chinese and Arabs live in the cities. Like Bali, Java is known for its highly developed arts. There is a rich literature, and the wayang, or shadow play, employing puppets and musical accompaniment, is an important dramatic form. Java has many state and private institutions of higher learning; most are in Jakarta, but Bandung, Bogor, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya all have several universities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.