A Kampong or Kampung - (Malay and Indonesian spelling) is a village in Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Cambodia. The term applies to traditional villages, especially of indigenous peoples, and has also been used to refer to urban slum areas and enclosed developments and neighbourhoods within towns and cities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Christmas Island. The traditional kampung village designs and architecture have been targeted for reform by urbanists and modernists and have also been adapted by contemporary architects for various projects. Traditional kampungs are also a tourist attraction.

The English word "compound" referring to a development in a town is from kampung.[1]


In Brunei, a kampung is primarily the third and lowest administrative division after daerah (district) and mukim (subdistrict). Some kampung divisions are sufficiently villages by definition, while others may only serve for census and other administrative purposes. There are also some which are now part of the city, that is Bandar Seri Begawan,

Generally, a kampung in Brunei is led by a ketua kampung or village chief. Infrastructure-wise, a kampung typically has a primary school. Because many kampung have predominantly Muslim residents, the kampung may also have a mosque for Friday prayers as well as a school providing primary religious education for the resident children.

Both 'kampung' and 'kampong' are used with equal tendency in written media as well an 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.[2][3]


In Indonesia, the term "Kampung" generally refers to "Village" which is the opposite of the so called "City" known in Indonesia as "Kota". Orang Kampung means "people from/of the village" in Indonesia and it sometimes become a degrading label such as in America the term Hillbilly. Kampungan is an Indonesian term to address behavior, acts, traditions, customs, and other things associated to that which resembles Villagers. "Kampung" also usually refers to names of places such as Kampung Melayu district in East Jakarta, Kampung Ambon (Ambonese village), Kampung Jawa (Javanese village), Kampung Arab (Arabs village), etc. The other name for "Village" in Indonesia is known as Desa.

In Sumatra the indigenous peoples have distinctive architecture and building type features including longhouses and rice storage buildings in their kampongs. Malays, Karo people, Batak people, Toba people, Minangkabau people and others have communal housing and tiered structures.

The kampong by Peter Nas, Leslie Boon, Ivana Hladka and Nova Tampubolon explores various iterations of the kampong as a rural settlement, mythical place of origin for the Minangkabau, palatial compound, and slum settlement, while looking at attempts to modernize, social changes, tourism, and urbanism.[4]


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 "masjid" (mosque) or "surau", paddy fields and Malay houses on stilts. Malay and Indonesian villagers practice the culture of helping one another as a community, which is better known as "joint bearing of burdens" (gotong royong).[7] They are family-oriented (especially the concept of respecting one's family [particularly the parents and elders]), courtesy and practice belief in God ("Tuhan") as paramount to everything else. It is common to see a cemetery near the mosque. All Muslims in the Malay or Indonesian village want to be prayed for, and to receive Allah's blessings in the afterlife. In Sarawak and East Kalimantan, some villages are called 'long', primarily inhabited by the Orang Ulu.

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 and associated kampong village life with backward traditionalism. He also had the kampng sentiggan (squatter settlements) cleared and new buildings constructed to house them. [5]


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 Kampung Glam have been controversial. Singapore is also home to Kampong Buangkok, featured in the film The Last Kampong.

See also

Further reading

  • Indonesian Houses: Volume 2: Survey of Vernacular Architecture in Western Indonesia R. Schefold BRILL, Jan 1, 2008


  1. ^ Kampung Singapura Stories
  2. ^ "Geoportal - Survey Department". Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  3. ^ "Brunei Postal Services - postcodes". post.gov.bn. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  4. ^ Indonesian Houses: Volume 2: Survey of Vernacular Architecture in Western Indonesia, Volume 2, R. Schefold, BRILL, January 1, 2008 page14
  5. ^ Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur: Race and Chinese Spaces in a Postcolonial City Dr Yat Ming Loo, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Jul 27, 2013