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Any member of the largest ethnic group on the island of Java, Indonesia. They speak an Austronesian language. The Javanese are Muslim, though relatively few are strictly observant. Traditional Javanese social organization varied in structure from relatively egalitarian villages to the highly stratified society of the cities; these differences find expression in the many Javanese styles of speech still in use. Javanese villages are compact groups of single-family houses, generally built of bamboo, surrounding a central square. Rice is the main food crop. The growth of large cities in Java has produced an urban underclass who live in makeshift huts in enclosed neighbourhoods.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Javanese, visit Britannica.com.