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A kampong (kampung in Malay and Indonesian) is the term for a village in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore and a "port" in Cambodia. The term applies to traditional villages, especially of the indigenous people, and has also been used to refer to urban slum areas and enclosed developments and neighbourhoods within towns and cities in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Christmas Island. The traditional kampong village designs and architecture have been targeted for reform by urbanists and modernists and have also been adapted by contemporary architects for various projects.


The English word "compound", when referring to a development in a town, is derived from the Malay word of kampung. [1]


In Brunei, the term kampong (also kampung) primarily refers to the third- and lowest-level subdivisions after districts (Malay : daerah) and mukim (equivalent to subdistrict). Some kampong divisions are sufficiently villages by anthropological definition or in its traditional sense, while others may only serve for census and other administrative purposes. There are also some which have been incorporated as part of the capital Bandar Seri Begawan and a few towns.

A kampong is generally led by a ketua kampung or village head. Infrastructure-wise, it typically has a primary school and a balai raya or dewan kemasyarakatan, the equivalent of a community centre. Because many kampongs have predominantly Muslim residents, each may also have a mosque for the Jumu'ah or Friday prayers, as well as a school providing the Islamic religious primary education compulsory for Muslim pupils in the country. [2]

Both "kampong" and "kampung" are used with equal tendency in written media as well as in official place names. For example, Keriam, a village in Tutong District, is known as 'Kampung Keriam' by the Survey Department but 'Kampong Keriam' by the Postal Services Department — both are government departments. [3] [4]


Traditional houses and pond pavilion of Kampung Naga, a traditional Sundanese village in West Java, Indonesia. Kampung Naga Java110.jpg
Traditional houses and pond pavilion of Kampung Naga, a traditional Sundanese village in West Java, Indonesia.

In Indonesia, kampung generally refers to "village" which is the opposite of the so-called "city" known in Indonesian as kota. The other Indonesian terms for "village" are desa [de.sɑ] and dusun, derived from the words in Javanese : ꦢꦺꦱ, romanized: desa [ðe.sɔ] (in Ngoko) and Javanese : ꦢꦸꦱꦸꦤ꧀, romanized: dusun (in Krama Inggil). [5] However, most of Indonesian cities and towns are initially consists of a collection of kampung settlements. Kampung also usually refers to a settlement or compound of certain ethnic community, which later become the names of places. Such as the Kampung Melayu district in East Jakarta, Kampung Bugis (Buginese village), Kampung Cina (also known as Pecinan) refer to Tionghoa village or could be equivalent to Chinatown as well, Kampung Ambon (Ambonese village), Kampung Jawa (Javanese village), Kampung Arab (Arabs village), etc.

In the island of Sumatra and its surrounding islands, the indigenous peoples have distinctive architecture and building type features including longhouses and rice storage buildings in their kampungs. Malays, Karo, Batak, Toba, Minangkabau and others have communal housing and tiered structures.

The term kampung in Indonesia could refer to the business-based village as well, as example Kampung Coklat (lit. "the Chocolate village") in Blitar which mainly produced and sell the chocolates (bars, candies, powders, coffee, cocoa butter, etc.) from the local cacao farmers, Kampung Seni (lit. "the Arts (and Performances) village") in various places across Indonesia that mainly focused to produce and sell the local arts from the local artists, Kampung Batik (lit. "the Batik village") which mainly produced and sell the batik as well as available for the batik -making courses and training, etc. In 2009, several Kampung Batik in collaboration with the other official entities (mainly Batik Museum) in Pekalongan recognized by the UNESCO regarding the "Education and training in Indonesian Batik intangible cultural heritage for elementary, junior, senior, vocational school and polytechnic students" as Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in Register of Good Safeguarding Practices List. [6] The kampungs in Indonesia also attracted the global tourist attraction as well, such as the Kampung Panglipuran in Bali, Indonesia that awarded as one of the world's cleanest village in 2016. [7]

A kampung in Indonesia led by whether Ketua Rukun Tetangga (abbreviated as Ketua RT), Kepala Desa (abbreviated as Kades), Kepala Dusun, and Tetua Kampung. All the terms are equivalent as "the leader of kampung" with slightly differentiation. While for the kampungs, it is led by whether the Ketua Rukun Warga (abbreviated as Ketua RW), Camat, and Kepala Kelurahan (could be simply known as lurah). All terms are equivalent as "the leader of kampungs" with slight differences.[ citation needed ]

Traditional kampungs are also a tourist attraction, such as Panglipuran village in Bali, Indonesia — awarded as one of the world's cleanest villages in 2016. [8]


In Malaysia, a kampung is determined as a locality with 10,000 or fewer people. Since historical times, every Malay village came under the leadership of a penghulu (village chief), who has the power to hear civil matters in his village (see Courts of Malaysia for more details).

A Malay village typically contains a mosque or surau, paddy fields or orchards and wooden Malay houses on stilts. It is common to see a cemetery near the mosque. There's barely any proper roads, but just regular dirt roads for village people to travel between kampongs.

The British initiated the Kampong Baru ("New Village") program as a way to settle Malays into urban life. Malaysia's long serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad lauded urban lifestyles in his book The Malay Dilemma[ citation needed ] and associated kampong village life with backward traditionalism. He also had the kampung sentiggan (squatter settlements) cleared and new buildings constructed to house them. [9]


The native Malay kampung are found in Singapore, but there are few kampung villages remaining, mostly on islands surrounding Singapore, such as Pulau Ubin. In the past, there were many kampung villages in Singapore but development and urbanization have replaced them. Development plans for Kampong Glam have been controversial. Singapore is also home to Kampong Buangkok, featured in the film The Last Kampong .

See also

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  1. "From 'Kampong' to 'Compound': Retracing the forgotten connections". singapurastories.com.
  2. Azahari, Izah (21 October 2017). "Brunei will remain a MIB-guided nation, thanks to religious education". Borneo Bulletin. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  3. "Geoportal". Brunei Survey Department. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  4. "Postcodes". Brunei Postal Services Department. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  5. Bausastra, 1939.
  6. "Education and training in Indonesian Batik intangible cultural heritage for elementary, junior, senior, vocational school and polytechnic students, in collaboration with the Batik Museum in Pekalongan". UNESCO. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  7. "Penglipuran Village". bdf.kemlu.go.id. Bali Democracy Forum. 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  8. "Penglipuran Village". bdf.kemlu.go.id. Bali Democracy Forum. 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  9. Loo, Yat Ming (2013). Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur: Race and Chinese Spaces in a Postcolonial City. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN   9781409472995.