An Overview on Penang, Malaysia
Penang is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Malaysia. It is locally known as the Pearl of the Orient or the Pulau Mutiara. It ranks eighth amongst all the states of Malaysia in terms of the population and second in terms of the size. An inhabitant of Penang is called a Penangite in local terms. The interesting history associated with the state shows us how the state has survived for a long time. Penang was not actually a part of Malaysia from the start. It was under the Kedah Sultanate and came under the rule of the British in the year 1786. The state achieved independence in the year 1957 and was added to the Malaysian Federation in the same year.
The national name of the state is a long one. In Malay language, it is known as Persukutuan Tanah Malaysia. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, which is the biggest tourist attraction in the state. The currency used is Malaysian Ringgit or RM. Common languages spoken in the state are Malay, Chinese, English, Iban and Tamil. More than 50% of the population is Muslim and the rest constitutes of religions like Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.
Let us now talk about the history of Penang.
The origins of Penang go back as far as the 16th century when it was used by Portuguese traders for replenishing their water supply. The traders were originally from Portugal, and came to the island from India in search of some prices. The captain of the East India Company, Francis Light changed the face of the island when he turned it into a harbor in 1786. Penang was taken over from the Kudah Sultanate in the same year on the 11th day of August. Captain Francis Light took formal control of the island by hoisting the British Flag there. He also renamed the island as the Prince of Wales Island and this name was used till the year 1867.
World War 2
Penang was doing quite well under the British rule till the second world war started. The war brought on a huge upheaval to the state and forced the British to give over the control of the state to a State Committee.
After World War 2
The British defeated the Japanese in the year 1945 and that changed the political future of the state forever. Just a year later, it was added to the Malayan Union and was accorded the status of a state in the year 1948.
As mentioned before, Penang became independent in the year 1957. In spite of the ravages of war and the constant change of governance, the state of today is a great mix of both Eastern and Western influences. The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 did some damage to the state, but it soon came back to life. Today, millions of tourists visit the state every year for experiencing the unique culture.