|State of Penang|
|• Malay||Pulau Pinang|
|Nickname(s): Pearl of the Orient|
|Motto(s): Bersatu dan Setia|
United and Loyal
|Anthem: Untuk Negeri Kita|
For Our State
|Coordinates: 5°24′52.2″N100°19′45.12″E / 5.414500°N 100.3292000°E / 5.414500; 100.3292000Coordinates: 5°24′52.2″N100°19′45.12″E / 5.414500°N 100.3292000°E / 5.414500; 100.3292000|
|• Governor||Abdul Rahman Abbas|
|• Chief Minister||Lim Guan Eng (DAP)|
|• Total||1,048 km2 (405 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,666.32/km2 (4,315.7/sq mi)|
|Human Development Index|
|• HDI (2017)||0.827 (very high) (2nd)|
|Time zone||MST (UTC+8)|
|• Summer (DST)||Not observed (UTC)|
|ISO 3166 code||MY-07|
|Founded by the British East India Company||11 August 1786|
|British crown colony as part of the Straits Settlements||1 April 1867 - 1 April 1946|
|Japanese occupation||19 December 1941 - 3 September 1945|
|Accession into the Federation of Malaya||31 January 1948|
|Independence as part of the Federation of Malaya||31 August 1957|
|^[a] 2,465.47/km2 (6,385.5/sq mi) on Penang Island and 1,117.18/km2 (2,893.5/sq mi) in Seberang Perai|
Penang is a Malaysian state located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Malacca Strait. It has two parts: Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located, and Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley) on the Malay Peninsula. The second smallest Malaysian state by land mass, Penang is bordered by Kedah to the north and the east, and Perak to the south.
Penang's population stood at nearly 1.75 million as of 2017[update], while its population density rose to 1,666.3/km2 (4,316/sq mi). It has among the nation's highest population densities and is one of the country's most urbanised states. George Town, Malaysia's second largest city, is also home to a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site.
Penang's modern history began in 1786, upon the establishment of George Town by Francis Light. Penang formed part of the Straits Settlements in 1826, which became a British crown colony in 1867. Direct British rule was only briefly interrupted during World War II, when Japan occupied Penang; the British retook Penang in 1945. Penang was later merged with the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia), which gained independence from the British in 1957. Following the decline of its entrepôt trade towards the 1970s, Penang's economy was reoriented towards hi-tech manufacturing.
Known as the Silicon Valley of the East for its industries, Penang is one of Malaysia's most vital economic powerhouses; Penang has the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita among all Malaysian states. In addition, Penang recorded the nation's third highest Human Development Index, after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Correspondingly, the state has a relatively well-educated population, with a youth literacy rate of 99.5% as of 2014[update].
Its heterogeneous population is highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language and religion. Aside from the three main races, the Chinese, Malays and Indians, Penang is home to significant Eurasian, Siamese and expatriate communities. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite or Penang Lâng (in Penang Hokkien).
The name, Penang, comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means The Island of the Areca Nut Palm (Areca catechu). The State of Penang is also referred to as the Pearl of the Orient and Pulau Pinang Pulau Mutiara (Penang Island, The Island of Pearls).
Penang Island was originally known by native seafarers as Pulau Ka-Satu, meaning The First Island, because it was the largest island encountered on the trading sea-route between Lingga and Kedah. Similarly, the Siamese, then the overlord of Kedah, referred to the island as Koh Maak (Thai: เกาะหมาก).
In the 15th century, Penang Island was referred to as Bīnláng Yù (simplified Chinese: 槟榔屿; traditional Chinese: 檳榔嶼) in the navigational drawings used by Admiral Zheng He of Ming China.Emanuel Godinho de Eredia, a 16th-century Portuguese historian, also referred to the island as Pulo Pinaom in the Description of Malacca.
Main article: History of Penang
Human remains, dating back to about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, have been uncovered in Seberang Perai, along with seashells, pottery and hunting tools. These artifacts indicate that the earliest inhabitants of Penang were nomadic Melanesians during the Neolithic era.
The Cherok Tok Kunmegalith in Bukit Mertajam, uncovered in 1845, contains Pali inscriptions, indicating that the Hindu-Buddhist Bujang Valley civilisation based in what is now Kedah had established control over parts of Seberang Perai by the 6th century. The entirety of what is now Penang would later become part of the Sultanate of Kedah up to the late 18th century.
Founding of Penang
See also: History of George Town, Penang
However, the modern history of Penang only began in the late 18th century. In the 1770s, Francis Light was instructed by the British East India Company to form trade relations in the Malay Peninsula. Light subsequently landed in Kedah, which was by then a Siamese vassal state. Aware that the Sultanate was under external and internal threats, he promised British military protection to the then Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II; in return, the Sultan offered Penang Island to the British.
It was only in 1786 when the British East India Company finally ordered Light to obtain the island from Kedah. Light negotiated with the new Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah, regarding the cession of the island to the British East India Company in exchange for British military aid. After an agreement between Light and the Sultan was ratified, Light and his entourage sailed on to Penang Island, where they arrived on 17 July 1786. Light took formal possession of the island on 11 August "in the name of His Britannic Majesty, King George III and the Honourable East India Company". Penang Island was renamed the Prince of Wales Island after the heir to the British throne, while the new settlement of George Town was established in honour of King George III.
Unbeknownst to Sultan Abdullah, Light had been acting without the authority or the consent of his superiors in India. When Light reneged on his promise of military protection, the Kedah Sultan launched an attempt to recapture the Prince of Wales Island in 1791; the British East India Company subsequently defeated the Kedah forces.
In 1800, Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Leith secured a strip of hinterland across the Penang Strait and named it Province Wellesley (now Seberang Perai).Province Wellesley was then gradually expanded up to its present-day boundaries in 1874. In exchange for the acquisition, the annual payment to the Sultan of Kedah was increased to 10,000 Spanish dollars per annum. To this day, the Malaysian federal government still pays Kedah, on behalf of Penang, RM 10,000 annually as a symbolic gesture.
Light founded George Town as a free port to entice traders away from nearby Dutch trading posts. Simultaneously, spices were harvested on the island, turning it into a regional centre for spice production. Consequently, maritime trade at the Port of Penang grew exponentially; the number of incoming vessels rose from 85 in 1786 to 3,569 in 1802.
In 1805, Penang became a separate presidency of British India, sharing similar status with Bombay and Madras. By 1808, a local government for George Town was in place, whilst the establishment of the Supreme Court of Penang marked the birth of Malaysia's modern judiciary. In 1826, Penang, Singapore and Malacca were incorporated into the Straits Settlements, with George Town as the capital.
However, Penang's importance was soon supplanted by Singapore, as the latter rapidly outstripped the Port of Penang as the region's premier entrepôt. In 1832, Singapore replaced George Town as the capital of the Straits Settlements.
Even so, the Port of Penang retained its importance as a vital British entrepôt. Towards the end of the 19th century, it became a major tin-exporting harbour. George Town concurrently evolved into Malaya's principal financial hub, as banks and mercantile firms flocked into the city. Meanwhile, other towns, including Bayan Lepas on the island, and Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam in Province Wellesley, emerged due to agricultural and logistical developments.
Throughout the century, Penang's cosmopolitan population, comprising Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan, Eurasian, Thai and other ethnicities, grew rapidly in tandem with the economic prosperity. However, the population growth also led to social problems, such as inadequate sanitation and public health facilities, as well as rampant crime, with the latter culminating in the Penang Riots of 1867. Also in 1867, the Straits Settlements was made a British crown colony. Direct British rule meant better law enforcement, as the police force was beefed up and the secret societies that had previously plagued Penang were gradually outlawed. More investments were also made on health care and public transportation.
Due to the improved access to education, the active participation in municipal affairs by its Asian residents and substantial press freedom, George Town was perceived as being more intellectually receptive than Singapore. The city became a magnet for reputable English authors, Asian intellectuals and revolutionaries, including Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Sun Yat-sen.
During World War I, in the Battle of Penang, the German cruiser SMS Emden surreptitiously sailed to Penang Island and sank two Allied warships off its coast. 147 French and Russian sailors perished during the battle.World War II, on the other hand, led to unparalleled social and political upheaval. Although Penang Island had been designated as a fortress, Penang fell to the Imperial Japanese Army on 19 December 1941, after suffering devastating aerial attacks. The British covertly evacuated Penang's European populace; historians have since contended that the moral collapse of British rule in Southeast Asia came not at Singapore, but at Penang.
Penang Island was subsequently renamed Tojo-to, after the then Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. The period of Japanese occupation was renowned for the Imperial Japanese Army's massacres of Penang's Chinese populace, known as Sook Ching to the locals. Women in George Town were also coerced to work as comfort women by the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Port of Penang was put to use as a major submarine base by the Axis Powers.
In the last years of the war, Allied bombers from India repeatedly bombed George Town, seeking to destroy the naval facilities and administrative centres. Several colonial buildings were destroyed or damaged, such as the Government Offices, St. Xavier's Institution and Hutchings School (now Penang State Museum). The Penang Strait was also mined to constrict Japanese shipping. Following the surrender of Japan, British forces launched Operation Jurist to recapture Penang Island on 3 September 1945, making George Town the first city in Malaya to be liberated from the Japanese.
Penang was placed under a military administration until 1946. Subsequently, the Straits Settlements was abolished, as the British sought to consolidate the various political entities in British Malaya under a single polity named the Malayan Union. The now separate Crown Colony of Penang was consequently merged into the Malayan Union, which was then replaced by the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
The idea of the absorption of Penang into the vast Malay heartland initially proved unpopular amongst Penangites. Economic and ethnic concerns led to the formation of the Penang Secessionist Committee in 1948. However, the committee's attempt to avert Penang's merger with Malaya ultimately petered out due to British disapproval.
The British government allayed the concerns raised by the secessionists by guaranteeing George Town's free port status, as well as reintroducing municipal elections in George Town in 1951. By 1956, George Town became the first fully-elected municipality in Malaya and in the following year, it was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first city within the Federation of Malaya, and by extension, Malaysia.
George Town was, since colonial times, a free port - until its sudden revocation by the Malaysian federal government in 1969. Penang subsequently suffered an economic crisis, with the loss of maritime trade resulting in massive unemployment and brain drain. To alleviate the downturn, the then Chief Minister, Lim Chong Eu, masterminded the construction of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. The zone, regarded by many as the Silicon Valley of the East, proved instrumental in reversing Penang's economic slump and led to the state's rapid economic growth until the late 1990s. During Lim's tenure, a number of major infrastructural projects were also undertaken, chiefly the Penang Bridge, the first road link between Penang Island and the Malay Peninsula. Completed in 1985, it was the longest bridge in Southeast Asia until 2014 when it was superseded by the Second Penang Bridge.
However, the persistent brain drain, exacerbated by federal government policies that favoured the development of Kuala Lumpur, meant that Penang was no longer at the forefront of the country's economy by the 2000s. Penang's economy slowed down in the early 2000s, while the deteriorating state of affairs in general, including an incoherent urban planning policy, poor traffic management and the dilapidation of George Town's heritage buildings due to the repeal of the Rent Control Act in 2001, led to simmering discontent within Penang's society.
In response, George Town's non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the national press galvanised public support and formed strategic partnerships to restore the city to its former glory. Also as a result of the widespread resentment, the federal opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, was voted into power within Penang in the 2008 State Election, replacing the erstwhile administration led by the Barisan Nasional. Meanwhile, the efforts to conserve George Town's heritage architecture paid off, when in 2008, the city's historical core was inscribed as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site.
The Indian Ocean tsunami which struck on Boxing Day of 2004 hit the western and northern coasts of Penang Island, claiming 52 lives (out of 68 in Malaysia).
With a total land area of just 1,048 km2 (405 sq mi), Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia by land mass after Perlis. Penang, situated at the northwestern coastline of Peninsular Malaysia, consists of Penang Island, Seberang Perai (a narrow strip of the Malay Peninsula) and a handful of smaller islets. Its capital city, George Town, lies at the northeastern tip of Penang Island.
Penang is geographically divided into two major halves physically divided by the Penang Strait.
- Penang Island: a 293 km2 (113 sq mi) island;
- Seberang Perai: a 751 km2 (290 sq mi) hinterland on the Malay Peninsula. It is bordered by Kedah to the east and north, and by Perak to the south.
The Penang Strait is further divided into the North Channel and the South Channel. At the strait's narrowest section, George Town on the island is separated from Butterworth on the mainland by a mere 3 km (1.9 mi).
Penang Island is irregularly shaped, with a hilly and mostly forested interior; its coastal plains are narrow, the most extensive of which is at the northeastern cape. With a height of 833 m (2,733 ft), Penang Hill, at the centre of the island, is the tallest point within Penang. From a small settlement at the northeastern tip of Penang Island, George Town has expanded over the centuries, particularly in the northwestern, western and southern directions, eventually linking up with Bayan Lepas at the island's southeast and urbanising the entire eastern coast of the island. Meanwhile, the topography of Seberang Perai is mostly flat, save for a few hills such as Bukit Mertajam.
The major rivers within Penang include the Pinang, Perai, Muda and Kerian rivers. In particular, the Muda River serves as the northern border between Seberang Perai and Kedah, while the Kerian River forms the southern boundary between Seberang Perai, Kedah and Perak.
Due to land scarcity, land reclamation projects have been undertaken in high-demand areas such as Tanjung Tokong, Jelutong and Gurney Drive.
Nature and parks
In spite of rapid urbanisation, Penang has still managed to safeguard a considerable area of natural environment. Within the state, 7,761 ha (77.61 km2) have been designated as protected forest reserves.
The central hills of Penang Island, including Penang Hill, serve as the green lung for the urbanised island. Two of the major parks within George Town - the Penang Botanical Gardens and the City Park - are situated near the hills.
Penang is also home to the smallest national park in the world - the Penang National Park. Covering 2,562 ha (25.62 km2) of the northwestern tip of Penang Island, it encompasses mangrove swamps, rainforest interspersed with hiking trails and tranquil beaches. Other notable natural attractions nearby include the Tropical Spice Garden and the Entopia Butterfly Farm, the latter of which was Malaysia's first butterfly sanctuary.
In Seberang Perai, the Penang Bird Park, established in 1988 in Seberang Jaya, was the first aviary in Malaysia.
Penang also consists of nine other islets off its coasts. The biggest of all, Jerejak Island, is located in the South Channel of the Penang Strait. Once the site of a leper asylum built in 1868, which was later converted into a maximum-security penitentiary, Jerejak Island remains heavily forested. The other islets under the jurisdiction of Penang include Aman, Betong, Gedung, Kendi and Rimau.
|Climate data for Penang|
|Average high °C (°F)||31.6|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||26.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||23.2|
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||68.7|
|Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||5||6||9||14||14||11||12||14||18||19||15||9||146|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||248.8||233.2||235.3||224.5||203.6||202.4||205.5||188.8||161.0||170.2||182.1||209.0||2,464.4|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
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