A jungle is land covered with dense vegetation dominated by trees.
Application of the term has varied greatly during the past recent
centuries. Prior to the 1970s, tropical rainforests were generally
referred to as jungles but this terminology has fallen out of usage.
Jungles in Western literature can represent a less civilised or unruly
space outside the control of civilisation: attributed to the jungle's
association in colonial discourse with places colonised by Europeans.
3 Varying usage
3.1 As dense and impenetrable vegetation
3.2 As moist forest
3.3 As metaphor
4 See also
6 External links
The word jungle originates from the
Sanskrit word Jangla (Sanskrit:
जङ्गल), meaning uncultivated land . Although the Sanskrit
word refers to dry land, it has been suggested that an Anglo-Indian
interpretation led to its connotation as a dense "tangled thicket"
while others have argued that a cognate word in Urdu did refer to
forests. The term is prevalent in many languages of the Indian
subcontinent, and the Iranian Plateau, where it is commonly used to
refer to the plant growth replacing primeval forest or to the unkempt
tropical vegetation that takes over abandoned areas.
Because jungles occur on all inhabited landmasses and may incorporate
numerous vegetation and land types in different climatic zones, the
wildlife of jungles can not be straightforwardly defined.
As dense and impenetrable vegetation
Vine thicket, a typical impenetrable jungle, Australia
One of the most common meanings of jungle is land overgrown with
tangled vegetation at ground level, especially in the tropics.
Typically such vegetation is sufficiently dense to hinder movement by
humans, requiring that travellers cut their way through. This
definition draws a distinction between rainforest and jungle, since
the understorey of rainforests is typically open of vegetation due to
a lack of sunlight, and hence relatively easy to traverse.
Jungles may exist within, or at the borders of, rainforests in areas
where rainforest has been opened through natural disturbance such as
hurricanes, or through human activity such as logging. The
successional vegetation that springs up following such disturbance of
rainforest is dense and impenetrable and is a ‘typical’ jungle.
Jungle also typically forms along rainforest margins such as stream
banks, once again due to the greater available light at ground
Monsoon forests and mangroves are commonly referred to as jungles of
this type. Having a more open canopy than rainforests, monsoon forests
typically have dense understoreys with numerous lianas and shrubs
making movement difficult, while the prop roots and low
canopies of mangroves produce similar difficulties.
As moist forest
Impenetrable jungle lining a river bank in rainforest, Cameroon
Because European explorers initially travelled through tropical
rainforests largely by river, the dense tangled vegetation lining the
stream banks gave a misleading impression that such jungle conditions
existed throughout the entire forest. As a result, it was wrongly
assumed that the entire forest was impenetrable jungle. This
in turn appears to have given rise to the second popular usage of
jungle as virtually any humid tropical forest.
Jungle in this
context is particularly associated with tropical rain forest,
but may extend to cloud forest, temperate rainforest and
mangroves with no reference to the vegetation structure or the
ease of travel.
The word "Rainforest" has largely replaced "Jungle" as the descriptor
of humid tropical forests, a linguistic transition that has occurred
since the 1970s. "Rainforest" itself did not appear in English
dictionaries prior to the 1970s. The word "jungle" accounted for
over 80% of the terms used to refer to tropical forests in print media
prior to the 1970s, since then it has been steadily replaced by
"rainforest", although "jungle" still remains in common use when
referring to tropical rainforests.
Use of the jungle to represent savageness and ferocity in popular
As a metaphor, jungle often refers to situations that are unruly or
lawless, or where the only law is perceived to be "survival of the
fittest". This reflects the view of "city people" that forests are
Upton Sinclair gave the title
The Jungle (1906) to his
famous book about the life of workers at the Chicago Stockyards
portraying the workers as being mercilessly exploited with no legal or
other lawful recourse.
The term "The Law of the Jungle" is also used in a similar context,
drawn from Rudyard Kipling's
The Jungle Book (1894) — though in the
society of jungle animals portrayed in that book and obviously meant
as a metaphor for human society, that phrase referred to an intricate
code of laws which Kipling describes in detail, and not at all to a
The word "jungle" itself carries connotations of untamed and
uncontrollable nature and isolation from civilisation, along with the
emotions that evokes: threat, confusion, powerlessness, disorientation
and immobilisation. The change from "jungle" to
"rainforest" as the preferred term for describing tropical forests as
has been a response to an increasing perception of these forests as
fragile and spiritual places, a viewpoint not in keeping with the
darker connotations of "jungle".
Cultural scholars, especially post-colonial critics, often analyse the
jungle within the concept of hierarchical domination and the demand
western cultures often places on other cultures to conform to their
standards of civilisation. For example:
Edward Said notes that the
Tarzan depicted by
Johnny Weissmuller was a resident of the jungle
representing the savage, untamed and wild, yet still a white master of
it; and in his essay "An Image of Africa" about Heart of Darkness
African novelist and theorist
Chinua Achebe notes how the jungle and
Africa become the source of temptation for white European characters
like Marlowe and Kurtz.
Israeli Prime Minister
Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak compared Israel to "a villa
in the jungle" - a comparison which had been often quoted in Israeli
political debates. Barak's critics on the left side of Israeli
politics strongly criticised the comparison. For example, Uri Avnery
charged that comparing "civilised" Israel with "a villa" and Israel's
Arab neighbors with the "wild beasts" of the "jungle" tends to throw
the blame for the absence of peace on the "wild" Arab and Palestinian
side, and absolve Israel of responsibility.
Arid Forest Research Institute
Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI)
^ Francis Zimmermann (1999). The jungle and the aroma of meats: an
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Jungle in Relation to Malaria in Bengal.
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fragrance and the ongoing transformation of the jungle. Cultural
^ Gustavson, E. 2007 "Rhetoric: How Politicians Manipulate Language
and the Media to Shape Public Thought" Hinckley Journal of Politics 8
^ Said, Edward W. (2000). "
Jungle Calling". Reflections on Exile: And
Other Essays. Convergences Series. Harvard University Press.
^ Chinua, Achebe (1977). "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's
'Heart of Darkness'". Massachusetts Review (18 ed.).
^ Uri Avnery, "Barak: A Villa in the Jungle", Gush Shalom website,
July 7, 2007 ,
^ Akiva Eldar, "The price of a villa in the jungle", Ha'aretz, Jan.
30, 2006 
^ Larry Derfner, "
Ehud Barak to step down: On his de-evolution, and
Israel's", +972 Magazine, November 26, 2012 
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jungles.
Look up jungle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
BBC - Science and Nature:
Jungle: Definition, Synonyms from Answers.com
Rainforest Fund - Archived July 20, 2009, at the Wayback
Link illustrating Biomes -
Link Indonesia Rain Forest exploration and