Python is a programming language that is similar to Java in some respects, but has fewer of the overheads of Java, and generally at a higher level than Java. It is an excellent choice as a glue language. Being interpreted, it is also excellent for rapid prototyping, with common experience being that applications can be developed 5 times more quickly in Python than in Java. See http://www.ferg.org/projects/python_java_side-by-side.html for more details of such a comparison.
A number of products use Python as a scripting and extension language, including OpenOffice.