Madura is an Indonesian island off the northeastern coast of Java. The island comprises an area of approximately 4,250 km². Madura is administered as part of the East Java
East Java
East Java is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the eastern part of the island of Java and includes neighboring Madura and islands to its east and to its north East Java is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the eastern part of the island of Java and includes neighboring Madura and...

 province. It is separated from Java by the narrow Strait of Madura.


In 1624, Sultan Agung of Mataram
Mataram Sultanate
The Sultanate of Mataram was the last major independent Javanese empire on Java before the island was colonized by the Dutch. It was the dominant political force in interior Central Java from the late 16th century until the beginning of the 18th century....

 conquered Madura and the island's government was brought under the Cakraningrats, a single princely line. The Cakrangingrat family opposed Central Javanese rule and often conquered large parts of Mataram.

Following the First Javanese War of Succession between Amangkurat III and his uncle, Pangeran Puger, the Dutch gained control of the eastern half of Madura in 1705. Dutch recognition of Puger was influenced by the lord of West Madura, Cakraningrat II who is thought to have supported Puger's claims in the hope that a new war in central Java would provide the Madurese with a chance to interfere. However, while Amangkurat was arrested and exiled to Ceylon, Puger took the title of Pakubuwono I and signed a treaty with the Dutch that granted them East Madura.

The Cakraningrats agreed to help the Dutch quash the 1740 rebellion in Central Java after the Chinese massacre in 1740. In a 1743 treaty with the Dutch, Pakubuwono I ceded full sovereignty of Madura to the Dutch, which was contested by Cakraningrat IV. Cakraningrat fled to Banjarmasin
Banjarmasin is the capital of South Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is located on a delta island near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers. As a result, Banjarmasin is sometimes called the "River City"...

, took refuge with the English, was robbed and betrayed by the sultan, and captured by the Dutch and exiled to the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...


The Dutch continued Madura's administrative divisions of four states each with their own regent. The island was initially important as a source of colonial troops and in the second half of the nineteenth century it became the main source of salt for Dutch-controlled territories in the archipelago.


Madura has a population of about 3.65 million, most of whom are ethnically Madurese. The main language of Madura is Madurese
Madurese language
Madurese is a language of the Madurese people of Madura Island and eastern Java, Indonesia; it is also spoken on the neighbouring small Kangean Islands and Sapudi Islands, as well as from migrants to other parts of Indonesia, namely the Tapal Kuda area comprising Pasuruan, Surabaya, Malang until...

, one of a family of Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

, which is also spoken in part of eastern Java and on many of the 66 outlying islands.

Madurese: a large ethnic population in Indonesia, numbering around 20 million inhabitants. They come from the island of Madura and surrounding islands, such as Gili Raja, Sapudi, Raas, and Kangean. In addition, many Madurese living in the eastern part of East Java, commonly called the Horseshoe, from Pasuruan to the north of Banyuwangi. Madurese in Situbondo and Bondowoso, and east of Probolinggo, Jember, and rare in number at most who speak Javanese, also including North Surabaya, as well as some of Malang.


Madura Island is part of East Java province and is divided into the following four regencies, listed from west to east:
Name Capital Area (km²) Population
2000 Census
2005 estimate
2010 Census
Bangkalan Regency  Bangkalan
Bangkalan Regency is a regency of East Java province in Indonesia. The seat of its government is Bangkalan. The regency is located on the west side of Madura Island, bordering with Sampang Regency at the east, Java Sea at the north and Madura Strait at west and the south side.Kamal port is the...

Sampang Regency  Sampang 
Pamekasan Regency  Pamekasan
Pamekasan on Madura Island is a regency of East Java, Indonesia.It shares its borders with Sumenep , Java Sea , and Sampang...

Sumenep Regency  Sumenep
Sumenep on Madura Island is a regency of East Java, Indonesia. It contains the Kangean Islands and Masalembu Islands as well as the easternmost part of Madura...


Sumenep Regency includes many offshore islands - notably the Kangean Islands
Kangean Islands
The Kangean Islands form an archipelago part of Indonesia, are located in the Java Sea approximately north of Bali and 120 km east of Madura Island. The islands are administratively a part of Sumenep Regency within East Java province.The largest island, at about 490 km², is Kangean Island...

 to the east of Madura, the smaller Sapudi Islands lying between Madura and the Kangean Islands, and the small Masalembu Islands
Masalembu Islands
Masalembu Islands lie in the Java Sea about halfway between Java and Borneo. They are administratively part of Masalembu District of Sumenep Regency of Madura, province of East Java. Madurese is spoken on the island. The 3 main islands are Masalembu Island, Masakambing Island, and Keramaian...

 to the north (between Madura and Kalimantan
In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term "Kalimantan" refers to the whole island of Borneo....



On the whole, Madura is one of the poorest regions of the East Java province. Unlike Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, the soil is not fertile enough to make it a major agricultural producer. Limited other economic opportunities have led to chronic unemployment and poverty. These factors have led to long-term emigration from the island, such that most ethnically Madurese people do not now live on Madura. People from Madura were some of the most numerous participants in government transmigration program
Transmigration program
The transmigration program was an initiative of the Dutch colonial government, and later continued by Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country...

s, moving to other parts of Indonesia.

Subsistence agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 is a mainstay of the economy. Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 is a key subsistence crop, on island's many small landholdings. Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

-raising is also a critical part of the agricultural economy, providing extra income to peasant farmer families, in addition to being the basis for Madura's famous bull-racing competitions. Small-scale fishing is also important to the subsistence economy.

Among export industries, tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 farming is a major contributor to the island's economy. Madura's soil, while unable to support many food crops, helps make the island an important producer of tobacco and clove
Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisines all over the world...

s for the domestic kretek
Kretek are cigarettes made with a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavors. The word "kretek" itself is an onomatopoetic term for the crackling sound of burning cloves. Haji Jamahri, a resident of Kudus, Java, created kreteks in the early 1880s as a means to deliver the eugenol of cloves to the...

(clove cigarette) industry. Since the Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 era, the island has also been a major producer and exporter of salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...


Bangkalan, on the western end of the island, has industrialized
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

 substantially since the 1980s. This region is within a short ferry ride of Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, and hence has gained a role as a suburb for commuters to Surabaya, and as a location for industry and services that need to be near the city.

The Surabaya-Madura (Suramadu) Bridge
Suramadu Bridge
The Suramadu Bridge , also known as the Surabaya–Madura Bridge, is a bridge with three cable-stayed sections constructed between Surabaya on the island of Java and the town of Bangkalan on the island of Madura in Indonesia...

, opened 2009, is expected to further increase the Bangkalan area's interaction with the regional economy.

Bull racing

Madura is famous for is bull-racing competitions, where a jockey
A jockey is an athlete who rides horses in horse racing or steeplechase racing, primarily as a profession. The word also applies to camel riders in camel racing.-Etymology:...

, usually a young boy, rides a simple wooden sled pulled by a pair of bull
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

s over a course of about 100 meters in ten to fifteen seconds. Several towns on the island hold races in August and September of each year, with a large final for the Presidential Trophy held in Pamekasan
Pamekasan on Madura Island is a regency of East Java, Indonesia.It shares its borders with Sumenep , Java Sea , and Sampang...

 in late September or October.

Music and theater

Several forms of music and theater are popular on Madura, particularly among poorer people for whom they provide an inexpensive form of entertainment and community-building. The topeng theater, which involves mask
A mask is an article normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes...

ed performances of classical stories such as the Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 and Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, is the Madurese performance art best known outside the island, due to its role as a representative Madurese art form at exhibitions of regional cultures from all over Indonesia. However, performances of it are rare on Madura, and are generally restricted to entertainment at large official functions. The less formal loddrok theater, where performers do not wear masks and perform a wider range of themes, is more popular on the island.

The gamelan
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included....

 orchestra, best known as a classical Javanese instrument, is also played on Madura, where several of the former royal courts, such as at Bangkalan and Sumenep, possess elaborate gamelans. Tongtong music, more exclusive to Madura, is played on several wooden or bamboo drums, and often accompanies bull-racing competitions.


The Madurese used to be excellent sailors. Madurese vessels loaded with cargoes of wood from other islands, like Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, used to ply their trade between Indonesia and Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. Among the traditional vessels of Madura, the golekan and the leti-leti (or leteh-leteh), are worth mentioning.

Further reading

  • Bouvier, Hélène (1994) La matière des émotions. Les arts du temps et du spectacle dans la société madouraise (Indonésie). Publications de l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient, vol. 172. Paris : EFEO. ISBN 2-85539-772-3.
  • Farjon, I.(1980) Madura and surrounding islands : an annotated bibliography, 1860-1942 The Hague: M. Nijhoff. Bibliographical series (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (Netherlands)) ; 9.
  • Kees van Dijk, Huub de Jonge, and Elly Touwen-Bouswsma, eds. (1995). Across Madura Strait: the dynamics of an insular society. Leiden: KITLV Press. ISBN 90-6718-091-2.
  • Smith, Glenn (1995) Time Allocation Among the Madurese of Gedang-Gedang. Cross-Cultural Studies in Time Allocation, Volume XIII. New Haven, Connecticut: Human Relations Area Files Press.
  • Smith, Glenn (2002) Bibliography of Madura (including Bawean, Sapudi and Kangean).
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