The history of Penang is rich. Penang was originally a part of the Malay Sultanate of Kedah which was then handed over to the East India Company in 1786 by the Sultanate of Kedah, primarily for military protection from the Siamese and the Burmese armies who were threatening Kedah. Captain Francis Light, landed in Penang on 11th August 1786 and renamed it Princess of Wales Island in hour of their heir to the British throne.
Palau Penang was virtually uninhabited when Francis Light had landed. Most areas of the state were covered under dense vegetation. Light then took up the task of cleaning up the jungle and areas under dense vegetation for better navigation of his troupes. Light allegedly loaded a canon with gold coins and fired into the surrounding jungle. Before Light's attempts, sufficient land had been cleared for a settlement and traders and merchants began to arrive.
Penang was from the outset a duty free port and much of the uninhabited island's appeal for traders was due to this. The British were more concerned with allying themselves to regional powers rather than controlling and profiting from Malaysian trade, unlike their Dutch competitors who had pressed for trade monopolies. The primary interest of the British in Penang was that it would act as a safe stopover for British ships plying the far more profitable China trade.
The British founder and superintendent in order to stimulate the growth of Penang decide to allow immigrants to claim whatever land they could clear. The result was that within a few decades, the island had attracted more than 10,000 settlers and traders, including Malays, Sumatrans, Indians, and especially the Chinese. Light's attempts to stimulate agriculture on the land were highly unsuccessful, but Penang soon established itself as a major trading port for tea, spices, china, and cloth. The city of Penang is today a bustling metropolitan city in which Eastern and Western influences that blend to form a unique culture.
Along with Malacca and Singapore in 1826, Penang became a part of the Straits Settlements under the British administration in India, moving to direct British colonial rule in 1867. In 1946, it became part of the Malayan Union, before becoming a state of the Federation of Malaya in 1948, which gained independence in 1957 and became Malaysia in 1963.
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