Of the 17,000 islands that make up the archipelago of the Republic of Indonesia, Java has historically been considered the heartland. Where Java has led-culturally, economically and politically down through the centuries, other regions have followed. On Java, still the most densely populated island of Indonesia, there are five Provinces. West Java is the largest, with the greatest population, and, some would claim, with the most pride.
West Java Province is located at part of western Java Island. The enchanting of Sunda land stretches from Sunda Strait in the west to the borders of Central Java in the east. The locals’ people know West Java Province as the Land of Sunda. The region is primarily mountainous, with rich green valleys hugging lofty volcanic peaks, many of which surround the capital of West Java province. The history of West Java is a story of trade, spices, and the rise and fall of powerful kingdoms. In the late 1500′s the region was ruled from mighty Cirebon, which still survives as a sultanate today, although a shadow of its former glory. West Java was of the first contact points in Indonesia for Indian traders and their cultural influences, and it was here that the Dutch and British first set foot in the archipelago.
This province has its own unique culture and language, both called Sundanese that is also used to call its people. The ancient kingdoms of Tarumanegara, Pajajaran, Banten and Cirebon would make interesting studies for the student of archaeology. Cirebon is located on the border between West and Central Java, having a mixed culture originating from the ancient Cirebon and Banten kingdoms, resulting in similar customs and dialects of the two people, although Banten is located at the extreme western part of the province.