Java is the most densely populated rural area in the world. The island has a?
Java is the most densely populated rural area in the world. The island has a total population of between 75 and 80 million people - mainly centred in Central and East Java.
The island is extremely fertile and the farming methods are old but superior in most cases to other south-east Asian countries. Early voyagers to Java were surprised to discover such an advanced state of agricultural know-how. Nevertheless the people are obliged to work industriously all the year round to ensure an adequate supply of food for the vast numbers they have to be feed. Two or three crops per year are yielded in some places, and the entire island is forever on the move. It is a question of survival as far as they are concerned, and with the population increasing at the rate of 3% annually, they have to strive ever harder to also increase the food supply. This becomes increasingly difficult as more and more land is needed to house the larger population.
Driving thru the countryside in some areas one is struck by the thought that Java is one big Kampong - and it has in fact been described this way by some people. However in other places there are broad sweeps of fertile country under intense cultivation, and one is never in a place in Java where one can scan the immediate area and not see people, people and more people. Due in part to the lack of machinery for harvesting, the rice crop is invariable picked by hand. It isn't unusual to see between 100 and 200 people working shoulder-to-shoulder in a single rive field to get the crop in. Others are shuttling back and forth in a constant human convoy carting the rice to a central local area for stripping.
In contrast to all this again are the few areas on Java catering for the moneyed people of Indonesia, or the foreigners - mainly diplomatic staffs.
These are usually located in the mountain areas. This is firstly because it is cool and comfortable away from the heat of the lowlands, and secondly because at the moment the Javanese can make little use of these areas as they are too steep for cultivation and are either arid or not suitable climatically.
The main resort for the rich on the island is at the Puntjak Pass (pronounced poont-chah) about 45 miles from Djakarta. There are a number of elegant homes, chalets, bungalows, and even or chalet/type hotel set if a beautiful fertile landscape of rolling hills and rich valleys.
In the towns it is always crowded as if every day is a market day. All modes of trasport are seen - mainly horse-drawn carts but also betjas (cyclos), cars, trucks, and people carrying individual loads - sometimes of staggering proportions. In addition of course are the inevitable pedlars.
It is a constant problem for these people to cover the distance from point A to B. They hop aboard anything that will carry them, and the owners of the vehicles rarely object as they know that tomorrow it may be them. A bicycle is a prized possession.
The primary problems therefore facing the new cabinet of Indonesia are best illustrated by the industrious but over-crowded areas of Java. It is one that will need a long time to solve, and perhaps the first things the new leaders will try to obtain will be fertilisers for the rural production, and possibly industries to employ the increasing millions in Java.