Penang is a state of Malaysia which is situated on the northwest coast of the Peninsular Malaysia by the Malacca Strait. The state is divided into two parts – Penang Island which has the capital city, George Town as well as Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula. Penang is considered to be the second smallest state of Malaysia in terms of land mass and it is bordered by Kedah towards the north and east as well as Perak towards the south.
The overall population of this state stands nearly 1.767 million. This population of Penang is considered to be the highest population of the nation. At the same time, the state happens to be one of the most urbanized states of the country. The capital city of Penang, George Town is the second largest city of Malaysia and it is also considered as home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site respectively.
Another interesting thing about Penang is that it is a renewed exotic holiday destination. The state was once upon a time considered as Pulau Pinang or the Isle of the Betel Nut. This virgin paradise has all sorts of cultural sights as well as natural scenery.
History of Penang
Prior to the establishment of own government of the state, this island used to be the part of the state of Kedah. Kedah was also considered as an important Indian center of trade and influence. In the ancient texts, this state was considered to be the area that had the very first establishments of Malaysia. Kedah would also entertain a very important role in the history of Malaysia. It is considered that all the Indian merchants came to the country before 1st century. The main reason of such arrival of the merchants was the herbs, spices and cold that the country had embraced during the ancient time. With their arrival, the Indians brought their own culture and religion with them and this is how the religions like Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced in Penang.
Then around the 9th century, various Muslim merchants from India as well as Middle East set their foot in Penang and rest of the Malaysian peninsula. The Muslim spent a lot of time in establishing Islam in the state, consequently, Islam spread quickly in this particular region.
In the 15th century, the state was discovered by the Chinese merchants when the island was first charted. It was later modified into Penang. Under the command of Cheng Ho, China turned into an important trading partner of Penang. During this time, the island was given a name of Ping-Lang-Seu. The Chinese during this time were specifically interested in the goods and materials. In the barter, they brought their own techniques and goods to the state as well as the remaining part of Penang.
Around the 14th century, various European merchants decided to set their foot in the state. The first ones to visit the state were the Portuguese. The Portuguese decided to keep the map secret in order to maintain their monopoly in Southeast Asia. Later in the year 1595, the Dutch too arrived Southeast Asia which was then followed by the arrival of the English.
Francis Light, an Englishman convicted the Sultan of Kedah in order to handover the state to the British East-India company. During this time, George Town was introduced by Francis Light. According to various old documents, in order to make Penang accessible to people as well as industrialization, George made the use of various tricks and tips. The jungle of Penang was cleared and soon the state was constructed into a town. Prior to the 20th century, the merchant mostly visited the state for merchandise. This is the reason why this island is considered as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’.
Geographical conditions of the state
The total land area of Penang is 1,048 square kilometers only which makes this state the second smallest state in terms of its lad mass. The state comprises of Seberang Perai, Penang Island as well as a handful of various small islets. The capital city of the state is George Town which is located at the northeastern tip of the island.
Talking about the climatic conditions of the state, Penang embraces a tropical rainforest climate which mainly borders on a tropical monsoon climate, although the state does not witness slightly direr conditions from the month of December to February of the following year. The climate of the state is very much ruled by the surrounding sea as well as prevailing wind system.
The proximity of the state with the island of Sumatra makes it very much vulnerable to the dust particles that are carried by the wind from perennial but transient forest fires. This creates a beautiful phenomenon known as the Southeast Asian haze.
Modern scenario of the state
Penang has long served as a major link in between some of the greatest kingdoms of Asia and the same has been serving an important outlet to all the markets located in the Middle East and Europe. The heart city of the state, George Town is the main city as well as urban center of the state that delivers old-world Asia in spades.
The state entertains a good deal of modern culture and urbanization. There are fancy buildings, shopping malls as well as a good infrastructure for the locals here. The state has opened its gate for a number of employment opportunities and the same also involves a kaleidoscope of cultures.
The tourism sector of the state contributes a lot to the total economy of the state. Penang is considered to be popular for all its soft sandy beaches and is also regarded as the food capital of Malaysia. Some of the most interesting tourist sites of the state include the sandy beaches of Tanjung Bungah, the beautiful landscapes from the summit of Penang Hill as well as the vipers in the Snake Temple. There are quaint nooks and crannies of the capital city and the Tropical Spice Garden which is considered as the only spice garden in the South East Asia. Penang is also very popular for its flea markets and various shopping malls.