Cirebon (Indonesian pronunciation: [t͡ʃirə'bɔn], formerly rendered Cheribon or Chirebon in English) is a port city on the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Java. It is the only coastal city of West Java, located about 40 km west of the provincial border with Central Java, approximately 297 km (185 mi) east of Jakarta, at 6°43′S 108°34′E. It had a population of 296,389 at the 2010 census and 333,303 at the 2020 census.[1]

Other transcription(s)
Clockwise, from top left: Cirebon railway station, Kanoman Palace, Great Mosque of Cirebon, Krucuk roundabout, Shrine of Sunan Gunung Jati
Kota Udang
(City of Shrimps)
Amsterdam van Java
(Amsterdam of Java)
Gemah Ripah Loh Jinawi
(Serene, Prosperous, Abundantly Fertile)
Location within West Java
Location in Java and Indonesia
Cirebon (Indonesia)
Coordinates: 6°42′26″S 108°33′27″E
ProvinceWest Java
  MayorNasrudin Azis
  Vice MayorEti Herawati
  MascotAmy "Bon Bon" from Cirebon
  City37.36 km2 (14.42 sq mi)
1,107.65 km2 (427.67 sq mi)
 (2020 census)
  Density8,900/km2 (23,000/sq mi)
  Metro density2,400/km2 (6,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+7 (Indonesia Western Time)
Area code(+62) 231
License plateE

The built-up area of Cirebon reaches out from the city and into the surrounding regency of the same name; the official metropolitan area encompasses this regency as well as the city, and covers an area of 1,107.65 km2 (427.67 sq mi), with a 2010 census population of 2,363,585; the 2020 census total was 2,603,924.[1]

Straddling the border between West and Central Java, Cirebon's history has been influenced by both Sundanese and Javanese culture as well as Arab and Chinese,[2] and is the seat of a former Sultanate.


Being on the border of Sundanese (i.e., Western Java) and Javanese (i.e., Central Java) cultural regions, many of Cirebon's residents speak a dialect that is a mix of Sundanese and Javanese, known as Jawareh. It is thought that the word "Cirebon" derives from the Javanese word, caruban, meaning "mixed": a reference to the city's mix of Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese, and Arabic cultural elements. Alternatively, it could be derived from the Sundanese words "ci" (water or river) and "rebon" ("shrimp").[3] (Indeed, the main product of the city is fish including shrimp).


The sultanate court lies near the modern-day city of Cirebon on West Java's northern coast. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the sultanate thrived and became an important center in the region for trade, commerce, and Islamic study and dissemination in Java. In 1677, the sultanate split into four royal houses, leaving four kratons (palaces) in Cirebon; Keraton Kasepuhan, Kraton Kanoman, Keraton Kacirebonan, and Keraton Keprabonan. Each has its own lineage and all are the descendants and stewards of the original Cirebon Sultanate.

According to the manuscript Purwaka Caruban Nagari, Cirebon started as a small fishing village in the 15th century named Muara Jati which attracted foreign traders. The port master at that time was Ki Gedeng Alang-Alang, appointed by the king of Galuh kingdom, located inland in Kawali, Ciamis. He later moved the port to Lemahwungkuk, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the south. As the new settlement leader, Ki Gedeng Alang-Alang was bestowed with the title "Kuwu Cerbon" (Cerbon village leader).

A 15th-century prince from Pajajaran, Prince Walangsungsang, converted to Islam and was appointed as the Adipati (Duke) of Cirebon with the title Cakrabumi. He established the new kingdom of Cirebon and declared independence from Sunda and Galuh. The establishment of the Cirebon Sultanate marked the first Islamic rule in western Java, transforming Muara Jati into a busy port.[4] Cirebon was an independent sultanate under the leadership of Sunan Gunungjati in the early 16th century. After the Sunda Kingdom collapsed, the Sultanates of Banten and Mataram fought over control of Cirebon, which declared its allegiance to Sultan Agung of Mataram, whose grandson Amangkurat II ceded the city to the Dutch in 1677.[3] In 1705, a treaty saw the Cirebon area west of Cisanggarung River become a Dutch protectorate jointly administered by three sultans whose courts rivalled those of Central Java.[3] The Dutch authorities later established the Cirebon Residency (Residentie Tjirebon) which was composed of present-day Cirebon, Indramayu, and Kuningan.[5]

The coat of arms of Cirebon during the Dutch colonial era, granted in 1930

During the time of the Dutch "Culture System" a flourishing trade in colonial cash crops attracted many Chinese entrepreneurs and that influence is still evident in the batik for which Cirebon is famous.[3] Cirebon suffered a famine in 1844, apparently triggered by a combination of drought and the shift from subsistence agriculture to cash crops, particularly indigo and sugarcane, enforced by Dutch's Cultivation system.



Cirebon has a tropical monsoon climate (Am) with moderate to little rainfall from June to October and heavy to very heavy rainfall from November to May.

Climate data for Cirebon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.8
Average low °C (°F) 22.7
Average rainfall mm (inches) 484

Administrative divisions

Cirebon is divided into five administrative districts (kecamatan), listed below with their populations at the 2010 census and the 2020 census:[1]

District Area (km2) Population
(2010 census)
(2020 census)
2020 (/km2)
Harjamukti 17.62 102,158 123,089 6,986
Lemahwungkuk 6.51 52,811 57,503 8,833
Pekalipan 1.56 28,927 29,742 19,065
Kesambi 8.06 70,193 77,003 9,554
Kejaksan 3.61 42,300 45,966 12,733
Totals 37.36 296,389 333,303 8,921

The five districts are sub-divided into twenty-two urban villages (kelurahan) which are listed below with their populations at the 2010 census and according to the mid-2018 official estimates:[7]


The city's population was 298,224 at the Indonesia census of 2010.[8] As with other coastal cities in Indonesia, a large population of ethnic Chinese has flocked into the city as a result of long-term Chinese immigration since the 17th century. Significant suburbs lie within densely populated Cirebon Regency, and the official metropolitan area encompasses this entire regency as well as the city.

Administrative division Area (km2) Population
(2010 census)
(2015 census)
(2020 census)
Population density
2020 (/km2)
Cirebon (Kota) 37.36 296,389 307,319 333,303 8,921
Cirebon Regency 1,070.29 2,067,196 2,124,866 2,270,621 2,122
Greater Cirebon 1,107.65 2,363,585 2,432,185 2,603,924 2,351

Although surrounded by Sundanese-speaking areas in West Java, linguists have stated that Cirebon (and the historically related region of Serang city in Banten Province) are inside its own Cirebonese language area. In addition, this is supported by a large portion of the Cirebon people referring to themselves as "Wong Cirebon" ("Cirebonese people"), and to their language as "Basa Cirebon" ("Cirebonese"). Cirebonese language is related to Javanese and Banyumasan with dialects such as the Jawareh (half-Javanese half Sundanese), Plered, and Dermayon. There are also native Sundanese speakers in the city, who speak a local dialect known as Bahasa Sunda Cirebon (Cirebonese Sundanese language) which contains unique words not found in its Priangan counterpart.

Campaign for Cirebon Province

In the modern era, some of the local political elite in Cirebon and surrounding regencies have campaigned for Cirebon city, together with the regencies of Cirebon, Indramayu, Kuningan and Majalengka to be established as a new province - in the same way as Banten Province was formed by splitting it away from West Java.[9] To be a new province it is required that it should be proposed by at least five regencies. Leaders from four of these administrations have given their consent, but Majalengka Regency has turned down the idea and indicated that it would prefer to stay part of West Java. However, the lack of support from the Majalengka area does not preclude Cirebon city and the other three regencies from continuing to promote the idea.[10]

The potential size and population of this possible Province would be as follows:

in km2
2010 census
2015 census
2020 census[1]
Cirebon CityCirebon37.36296,389307,319333,303
Cirebon RegencySumber1,070.292,067,1962,124,8662,270,621
Indramayu RegencyIndramayu2,099.421,663,7371,690,6431,834,434
Kuningan RegencyKuningan1,194.091,035,5891,054,8621,167,686
Majalengka RegencyMajalengka1,204.241,166,4731,181,7011,305,476


Cirebon City's economy is influenced by its strategic geographical location and by the characteristics of natural resources. Thus, the structure of its economy is dominated by manufacturing, trade, hotels and restaurants, transport and communications, and service sectors. Tomé Pires in the Suma Oriental around the year 1513 mentioned Cirebon was one of the trade centers on the island of Java. After Cirebon was taken over by the Dutch East Indies government in 1859, it was designated as a transit port for import-export goods and as a communications route to the political control center for the region in the interior of Java.

Until 2001, the economic contribution to the City of Cirebon was characterized by processing industry (41.32%), followed by trade, hotels and restaurants (29.8%), transport and communications sector (13.56%), and services sector (6.06%). Other sectors (9.26%) included mining, agriculture, construction, electricity, and gas. Aside from fishery, its harbor, Tanjung Emas, on the Java Sea has been a major hub for timber from Borneo.


Cirebon itself is known as Grage in the Cirebon dialect of Javanese language, which came from the words "Negara Gede", meaning "Great Kingdom." As a port city, Cirebon attracts visitors and settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia and from other nations as well. Cirebon culture was described as Java Pasisiran (coastal) culture, similar to the cultures of Banten, Pekalongan, and Semarang, with notable mixtures of Sundanese, Chinese, Arabic-Islamic, and European influences.

Arts and crafts

A batik motif on a skirt from Cirebon.

Batik textiles from Cirebon, especially Cirebon batik with vivid colors with motifs and patterns, that demonstrate Chinese and local influences, are well known. Chinese influences can be seen in Cirebon's culture, most notably the Cirebon batik Megamendung pattern that resembles Chinese cloud imagery. The Trusmi area is the production center of Cirebon batik. Cirebon Glass Painting is another aspect of Cirebon arts and crafts. The imagery in glass painting is usually derived from wayang theme to Islamic calligraphy.

Performing arts

Cirebon mask dance

The Tari Topeng Cirebon, or Cirebon mask dance, is a dance style peculiar to the city. Topeng Cirebon mask dance, inspired by Javanese Panji cycles is one of notable Cirebon traditional dance and quite famous within Indonesian dances.

Cirebon culture is also influenced by Islamic Middle Eastern culture, such as the Burokan tradition where people exhibit the image of buraq — traditionally made from the bamboo frame and paper skin, or other materials — in processions around the village accompanied with music. The traditions of the bamboo statues borne in these processions are similar to Sundanese Sisingaan, Betawi Ondel-ondel, or Balinese Ogoh-ogoh processions, yet differ in their Islamic theme. Burokan are usually held during festive occasions such as circumcision or marriage, and are accompanied by popular Cirebon folk songs, such as tarling.

Tarling is a musical tradition reminiscent of Bandung's kecapi suling music with except that it features guitar, suling (bamboo flute) and voice.[2] The name derived from gitar (guitar), and suling (flute).


Cirebon is the home town of the PSGJ Cirebon football team, the club plays in the Liga Nusantara. Another team, Cirebon Football Club, team also plays in the Liga Nusantara is based in the Bima stadium Cirebon. Other popular sports in Cirebon include Futsal.

Court culture

The remnants of Cirebon sultanate; Kasepuhan, Kanoman, Kaprabonan, and Kacirebonan kratons are now run as cultural institutions to preserve Cirebon culture.[11] Each still holds their traditional ceremonies and have become the patrons of Cirebon arts. Some of the royal symbols of the Cirebon Sultanate describe their legacy and influences. The banner of Cirebon Sultanate is called "Macan Ali" (Ali's panther) with Arabic calligraphy arranged to resemble a panther or tiger. These indicate both Islamic influence and that of the Hindu Pajajaran Sundanese King Siliwangi's tiger banner. The royal lineage of Cirebon is still well respected and is held in high prestige among the people of Cirebon, although it does not hold real political power anymore.

The royal carriage of Kasepuhan's Singa Barong and Kanoman's Paksi Naga Liman carriage resembles the chimera of three animals; eagle, elephant, and dragon. These symbolize Indian Hinduism, Arabic Islam, and Chinese influences. The images of Macan Ali, Singa Barong, and Paksi Naga Liman are also often featured as patterns in Cirebon batik.


As a coastal city, Cirebon's main industry is fishery. Its products include terasi (shrimp paste), petis, krupuk udang (shrimp crackers) and various salted fish. Cirebon is famous for its high quality salted fish, such as jambal roti, juhi (salted cuttlefish), rebon, and ebi (dried small shrimp). These products are often sought by visitors, especially Indonesian domestic tourists and visitors from other cities, as oleh-oleh (food souvenirs).

Cirebon is also known for its local cuisines and delicacies, such as empal gentong (offal curry ), mie koclok (chicken noodle soup with coconut milk), nasi lengko (rice with bean sprouts, fried tofu, and fried tempeh, topped with peanut sauce and soy sauce), nasi jamblang (rice of various side dishes), tahu gejrot (fried tofu with ground garlic, chili, and shallot, topped with thin and sweet soy sauce), tahu petis (dry fried tofu served with petis dip sauce), tahu tek-tek (fried tofu topped with peanut sauce and mixed with vegetables), ayam panggang (barbecued chicken), and docang (lontong with sour vegetable soup).


As one tourist destination in West Java, Cirebon City offers many charms ranging from a historical tour of the royal glory of Islam, the story of the trustees, Complex Sunan Gunung Jati in Mount Sembung about 24 kilometres (15 mi) to the west of the city center, Great Mosque of Cirebon, At-Taqwa Mosque, temple ancient buildings and relics of Netherlands.

Cirebon is a palace at the same time in the city, namely Keraton Kasepuhan and Kanoman. Everything has architecture a combination of elements culture Islam, China, and Netherlands. Characteristics of the palace buildings are always facing north and there is a mosque nearby. Each palace has square as a gathering place, market and sculpture tiger in park or page forward as a symbol of King Siliwangi, the central character formation Sultanate of Cirebon. Another feature is the plate porcelain original China are so trimmer wall. Some dishes supposedly derived from Europe when Cirebon so port trade center island Java.

Cirebon city park has some of them Waterpark Sunyaragi and Park of Ade Irma Suryani. Water Parks Sunyaragi has technology flow water advanced in his time, the water flows between the terraces where the princess king preening, page grass green where the knight practice, plus tower and room privileged that door was made of curtain water.

Orientation and places

Entrance to the tomb of Sunan Gunung Jati.

The main boulevard is Jalan Siliwangi. It runs from the train station to the canal via the Pasar Pagi ("Morning Market"). Then the street becomes Jalan Karanggetas along which are most of Cirebon's banks, restaurants, and hotels. There are a number of historic buildings and other key sites in Cirebon, some of them in an advanced state of decay. These include the buildings of the several kratons, the Sang Cipta Rasa Grand Mosque, and the Gua Sunyaragi Park.[12]

Wali Songo, especially Sunan Gunung Jati, is known to have influenced the city's history. Sunan Gunung Jati's grave is located several kilometers outside the city in the Gunung Jati district. There are two temples and a cave system built by two Chinese architects around the 1880s, decorated by Chinese and Western porcelain. The village of Trusmi, about five kilometers outside of Cirebon, has been noted for batik production. Plangon is a habitat of monkeys.

Mt Ceremai, the highest peak in West Java, is a large volcano situated about 40 km (25 mi) to the south of Cirebon. Parks and other tourist spots on the slopes of Mt Ceremai are popular places for groups from Cirebon to visit during weekends to escape from the hotter climate on the coast. The village of Linggajati, near the town of Cilimus, (where the Linggadjati Agreement was signed) is one such place. Public transportation brings tourists and visitors here.


Cirebon Skyline



Cirebon residents have been traditionally using Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for flights and now being replaced by Kertajati International Airport serving the Greater Cirebon area and surrounding area.

Cakrabhuwana Airport in Penggung, Harjamukti subdistrict also serves the TNI-AU. The city lies on Jalur Pantura (Pantai Utara Jawa), a major road on the northern coast of Java that stretches from Anyer, passes through Jakarta, and ends at Surabaya.

Port of Cirebon

Port of Cirebon.

The Port of Cirebon was established by the Dutch in 1865, principally as an export point for spices, sugar cane, and raw materials from West Java. Warehouses and open storage areas were developed by 1890, and a British American Tobacco cigarette factory was built in the early 20th century.

Port activity is dominated by bulk imports of coal, liquid asphalt and vegetable oils for the West Java hinterland. Until 2002, the port also catered for minor container trade and cruise shipping. In 2006 the port handled 3.27 million metric tons (MT) of trade, more than 90 percent as imports from other Indonesian ports.

Public service

Nearly 93% of the population has been underserved by service water from PDAM Cirebon, the majority of customers in the city's water supply to households (90.37% or as many as 59,006) of the total number of existing connections (65,287).[13]


Since the Dutch East Indies government, Cirebon City has had a hospital named Orange, which unveiled its use on August 31, 1921, and commenced operations from September 1, 1921.

In 2009 in the city of Cirebon has been available about 6 general hospitals, four maternity hospitals, 21 health centers, 15 health centers Maid, 20 Mobile Health Center, and 81 Pharmacies and Drug Stores 31. With the number of medical personnel such as specialist doctors about 94 people, and 116 general practitioners, 37 dentists, 847 nurses, and 278 midwives.[14]

Twin towns – sister cities

Cirebon has sister relationships with a number of towns worldwide:

See also


  1. Badan Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2021.
  2. Turner, Peter (November 1995). Java. Melbourne: Lonely Planet. p. 229. ISBN 0-86442-314-4.
  3. Turner, Peter (November 1995). Java. Melbourne: Lonely Planet. p. 229. ISBN 0-86442-314-4.
  4. "Profil Sejarah Pemerintahan".
  5. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indië (in Dutch). Lands-Drukkerij. 1874-01-01.
  6. "Climate: Cirebon". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  7. Badan Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2020.
  8. "Bandung Kota Terpadat di Jawa Barat | nusa |". 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  9. Arya Dipa, Council urged to endorse formation of Cirebon province', The Jakarta Post, 31 May 2012.
  10. "Masyarakat Majalengka Tolak Provinsi Baru". February 21, 2012.
  11. Mohamad Katavi, 'Laskar Macan Ali Turunkan Pasukannya dalam Apel Akbar Bhinneka Tunggal Ika', Kilas Cirebon, 30 November 2016.
  12. Nana Rukmana, '52 Cirebon historic buildings in peril', The Jakarta Post, 16 July 2012.
  13. "Profile Cirebon" (PDF).
  14. "Cirebon health data" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-12.

Further reading

  • Graaf, H. J. de (Hermanus Johannes de Graaf), 1899-(?), "Chinese Muslims in Java in the 15th and 16th centuries: the Malay Annals of Semarang and Cerbon / translated and provided with comments by H. J. de Graaf and Theodoor Gautier Thomas Pigeaud; edited by M.C. Ricklefs. Publisher: [Melbourne] | Monash University, 1984. Description: xiii, 221 p. | folded map ; 21 cm. ISBN 0-86746-419-4 | Series: Monash papers on Southeast Asia; no. 12
  • Sulendraningrat, P.S. (1985). Sejarah Cirebon. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka. OCLC 246515112.
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