Overview

Central Java comprises about a third of the island of Java. The province is 32,800.69 km2 in area, approximately a quarter of the total land area of Java. Its population was 33,753,023 at the 2015 Census; it the third most populated province in both Java and Indonesia after West Java and East Java. Central Java is also a cultural concept that includes the Special Region and city of Yogyakarta as well as the Province of Central Java. However, administratively the city and its surrounding regencies have formed a separate special region (equivalent to a province) since Indonesian independence, administrated separately.

Where is it?

Located in the middle of the island of Java, the Central Java province is bordered by West Java and East Java provinces. A small portion of its south region is the Yogyakarta Special Region province, fully enclosed on the landward side by the Central Java province. To the north and the south, the Central Java province faces the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean. Central Java includes offshore islands such as Karimun Jawa Islands in the north, and Nusakambangan in the southwest. Yogyakarta is historically and culturally part of the Central Java region, although it is now a separate administrative entity.

The average temperature in Central Java is between 18-28 °C and the relative humidity varies between 73–94%. While a high level of humidity exists in most low-lying parts of the province, it drops significantly in the upper mountains. The highest average annual rainfall of 3,990 mm with 195 rainy days was recorded in Salatiga.

The geography of Central Java is regular[clarification needed] with small strips of lowlands near the northern and southern coast with mountain ranges in the centre of the region.[citation needed] To the west lies an active stratovolcano Mount Slamet, and further east is the Dieng Volcanic Complex on Dieng Plateau. Southeast of Dieng lies the Kedu Plain, which is bordered to the east side by the twin volcanoes of Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu. South of Semarang, lies Mount Ungaran, and to the north-east of the city lies Mount Muria on the most northern tip of Java. To the east near the border with East Java lies Mount Lawu, where its eastern slopes are in the East Java province.

Due to its active volcanic history, volcanic ash makes Central Java highly fertile agriculture land. Paddy fields are extensive, except in the southeastern Gunung Kidul region partly due to the high concentration of limestone and its location in a rain shadow from the prevailing weather.

The largest rivers are the Serayu in the west, which empties into the Indian Ocean, and the Solo which flows into East Java.

History

The very first Moslem kingdom on the island was founded in 1511 at Demak, about 40 km from Semarang. Today Demak is a sleepy little town, however, its glory of the past is still visible from one of the major relics, which is still well preserved. The Grand Mosque, a quaint blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture, still honored and worshipped by Javanese pilgrims. Surakarta, better known as Solo, is the cradle of Javanese culture in the province. TV courts of Solo embody the noble value that the Javanese attach to grace and refinement, with majestic ceremonies and royal festivals still held with great pomp and circumstance. Although no longer the seat of power it once was, descendants of the royal houses of Solo are regarded as leaders of, Javanese culture and traditions, upholding standards of sophistication and conduct.

Popular See & Do

  • Semarang
  • Solo
  • Sukuh
  • Tawangmangu
  • Dieng Plateau
  • Ambarawa
  • Karimunjawa
  • Merbabu
  • Mt. Lawu
  • Dieng Plateau
  • Umbul Ponggok Klaten
  • Cetho
  • Gunung Prau Dieng Plateau
  • Sindoro Sumbing

Get There

By Plane
Adisucipto International Airport (JOG) near Yogyakarta has a few international connections, including flights with Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

All other flights are domestic, including those to Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya (all on Java), Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Pontianak (all on Kalimantan), Denpasar (Bali) and Makassar (Sulawesi).

By Train
Purwokerto, Yogyakarta, Solo and Semarang are connected to other cities with intensive railway service, providing various classes of accommodation for all budgets. Central Java cities often have more than one railway station, a legacy of the many private railway lines during the colonial era.

By Boat
Semarang’s Tanjung Emas port is the only one of any practical significance to traveler entering Central Java. This port could be a convenient entry point by sea from cities in Kalimantan, such as Banjarmasin, Pontianak, Kumai, Ketapang, and Sampit.

Get Around

By Train
The region is well served by trains with two main lines. The North Line runs along the north coast linking Solo, Semarang and Tegal, with stops in between. The South Line links Solo and Yogyakarta with small towns on the south coast. There is also a north-south cross island line in the west of the region, passing through Purwokerto.

The loop line in the northeast of the region linking Semarang with Jepara and Kudus is long disused despite still being shown on many maps.

By Car
Hiring your own car is the most convenient way to cover some of the large distances between reactions in the region. Even by Indonesian standards though, driving practices in Central Java will scare most visitors. You will enjoy your visit more and certainly be much safer, if you hire a car with driver.

By Bus
Buses are very widespread in this region servicing cities, towns and to a lesser extent, rural areas.

Eat

The food of Central Java is renowned for its sweetness, and the dish of gudeg, a curry made from jackfruit, is a particularly sweet. The city of Yogyakarta is renowned for its ayam goreng (fried chicken) and klepon (green rice-flour balls with palm sugar filling). Surakarta’s (Solo) specialities include Nasi liwet (rice with coconut milk, unripe papaya, garlic and shallots, served with chicken or egg) and serabi (coconut milk pancakes topped with chocolate, banana or jackfruit).Some foodies insist that in a country of interesting cuisine, the best of all hails from Central Java. That may or may not be the case, but several wonderful dishes originate from this region. These include:

  • Gudeg – A coconut-infused stew of young jackfruit, chicken and hardboiled eggs with a subtle sweet and savoury taste. Vendors all seem to have their own secret recipes for Gudeg, but the flavour base usually seems to include bay leaf, coriander, candlenut, onion, garlic, galangal, ginger, palm sugar, and unusually, teak tree leaves. This is a Yogyakarta speciality and is sometimes called Gudeg Yogya. The not-to-be-missed dish of the region. Best tried in Yogyakarta but you will also find it elsewhere.
  • Bakpia – A small sweet pastry, traditionally filled with sugary mung bean paste. Other fillings are now sometimes used with cheese being especially popular. These originated in the Pathok district of Yogyakarta and are also called Bakpia Pathok. A box of Bakpia travels quite well and is a very authentic gift for any visitor to take home.
  • Lumpia Semarang – Lumpia (spring rolls) could almost be the national dish of Indonesia, and the Semarang variety is one of the very best. Fillings vary but always include bamboo shoots. Dipping sauce might be sweet soy with chopped fresh chillies (sos manis paket cabe potong), spicy sambal or a sweet garlic, tomato and chilly blend. Look for streetside vendors and always choose the busiest – locals will know for sure who makes the best Lumpia.
  • Bakso Solo – Bakso (meatballs in hot broth with noodles, various vegetables and chilly sauce) wil be well known to any visitor to Indonesia. The Solo version uses truly huge super sized meatballs. Typical Indonesian humour has resulted in this dish sometimes being called “Bakso Tennis”.
  • Nasi Bogana – This very convenient dish has almost fastfood status across Indonesia these days, but it originated from Tegal on the northern coast of this region. White rice accompanied by a whole host of other possibilities is tightly wrapped in a banana leaf packet. It can then be heated by steaming at any time inside the packet – hence the convenient fast food tag. Accompanying dishes could be chicken curry, tempe (fermented soya beans), tofu, egg, dendeng (spicy beef jerky), chicken livers etc. Most likely is a combination of them all. If you are travelling on a budget, keep an eye out for Nasi Bogana street hawkers in any city or town.
  • Opor ayam is a chicken cooked in coconut milk from Indonesia, especially from Central Java. usually eaten with ketupat and sambal goreng ati (beef liver in sambal).

Sleep

If you have only one or two days to visit, it is better for you to choose Yogyakarta as your hub, because there is more sightseeing around there. You may sleep in Semarang, if you want explore Semarang. Other areas might not be as interesting for foreign tourists.