George Town, Penang

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George Town
Tanjung Penaga
Other transcription(s)
 • Simplified Chinese 乔治市
 • Tamil ஜோர்ஜ் டவுன்
Flag of George Town
Official seal of George Town
Nickname(s): Bandar Mutiara
Pearl of the Orient City[1]
Location in Penang.
Location in Penang.
George Town is located in Peninsular Malaysia
George Town
George Town
Location in the Peninsula Malaysia
Location in Malaysia
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Malaysia
State  Penang
Founded 1786
Municipality established 1857
Granted city status 1957
 • Mayor Patahiyah Ismail
 • City 305.773 km2 (118.060 sq mi)
 • Metro 2,740.000 km2 (1,057.920 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 14 m (46 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 500,000[2]
 • Demonym George Townians[4]
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC)
Postal code 10xxx to 14xxx
Area code(s) 04
Vehicle registration P

George Town (Chinese: 乔治市; pinyin: qiáozhì shì Tamil: ஜோர்ஜ் டவுன்) is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang, located on the north-east corner of the island. It had an estimated population of 500,000 as of 2010.[2] The metropolitan area (which consists of Jelutong, Sungai Pinang, Sungai Nibong, Gelugor, Air Itam, Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong) has a population of 2.5 million, making it the second largest metropolitan area and the biggest northern metropolis in Malaysia.[5]


The George Town area was once known as Tanjung (Cape) in Malay as it was situated on a cape area on the island northeast. The Malay name is derived from the older name of the town, Tanjung Penaga (Cape Penaigre). As George Town was founded by British Captain Francis Light in 1786, the town was named after King George III.[6]


Founding of George Town

Statue of Francis Light in the present-day city, he was regarded as the founder of George Town.

As the Dutch East India Company had dominated the Far East spice trade, the British were determined to establish their presence in the region to control the trade route between mainland China and the Indian subcontinent through the archipelago, and to set up a base to repair British Navy ships.[7] Because of this, Francis Light, who was a captain and a trader for the British East India Company (EIC) was instructed by his company, Jourdain Sullivan and de Souza in Madras, India to establish trade relations in the Malay archipelago.[8] He arrived on Penang Island on 17 July 1786.[7]

As Penang was still under the control of the Sultan of Kedah, Light needed to negotiate with the Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah to grant the island to the EIC in exchange for protection of the Sultanate against Siamese and Burmese intrusions.[8][9] The early negotiations were problematic because the Sultan did not want to cede the island to the British, but the threat from Siam grew as the five Malay kingdoms of Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan and Pattani were forced to offer bunga mas annually as a sign of vassal state.[9] The Sultan was aware that he needed an agreement with the British for protection from the Siamese although he did not realise Light had acted without the approval of his superiors.[7] Following the sealing of agreements by both sides, Light returned to the island on 11 August 1786 to establish possession under the flag of the United Kingdom, and renamed it Prince of Wales Island.[8]

An 1799 map featuring the Fort Cornwallis after Captain Light acquired the island of Prince of Wales (present-day Penang).

At the time of his arrival, the island was inhabited by at least 1,000 Malay fishermen.[7] He then built Fort Cornwallis which became the first British presence in the Malay archipelago. The area of present-day George Town was developed from a swampy area. Light introduced the island to traders as a free port to attract them from the Dutch trading post in neighbouring Sumatra.[7] Although during the early stage of development he had difficulty in defending the island because of the shortage of water supply and because it was prone to flooding and malaria,[10][11] Light managed to increase the settlement population to 10,000 and the value of imports to £130,000.[12] In addition to Britain's free trade policy, Light also succeeded in attracting many traders from the Dutch ports in Sumatra where many restrictions and taxes had been imposed.[6]

After the company failed to provide military protection to the Sultanate of Kedah was attacked by Siam in 1790, the Sultan formed an army at Seberang Perai (later Province Wellesley) to remove the British as well some Dutch presence, to retake Prince of Wales Island. This action was defeated by Light who implemented night raids on the Sultan's fortress.[7] The following year, the Sultan was forced to signed a treaty with the British, which stipulated the official handing-over of the island to the British. Light was appointed Superintendent of the island and, to appease the Sultan, he paid $6,000 annually.[7][9] After Light died of malaria on 21 October 1794,[12] Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Wellesley arrived to defend and maintain British control of the island.[7] Sir George Alexander William Leith won control of another strip of land across the channel near the island in the Sultan of Kedah's territory in 1800, and named it Province Wellesley (present-day Seberang Perai). This gave the island control over the harbour and ended the problem of water shortage in the town. The annual payment to the Sultan of Kedah was increased to $10,000 after the acquisition and payment continues into the present.[7][9]

In 1805, the island was elevated from a colonial status to that of a residency and by 1832, under the British administration in India, the Straits Settlements comprising the states of Malacca, Singapore and Penang was formed. Penang became its capital but in 1935 it was replaced by Singapore.[7] At the end of the 19th century, prior to rich deposits of tin from neighbouring state and relentless demands of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, the island and the town enjoyed an economic boom. At this time, the town was overwhelmed by immigrants especially those from China and India.[7] Many European planters and Chinese towkays (business leaders) generate their money in the plantations and mines sectors in other northern Malay states but built their homes and sent their children to school in the town.[7] This prosperity was however halted when the Japanese arrived in 1941 as part of World War II.

World War, post-independence and present

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Malacca and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
George Town, Penang (UNESCO).svg
Str of George Town, Malaysia.JPG
Location Malaysia
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv
Reference 1223
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 2008 (32nd Session)

During the World War I, a surprise naval attack to the Allies occurred on 28 October 1914 on the town harbour area when German cruiser SMS Emden disguise as a British cruiser of HMS Yarmouth suddenly sending a torpedo to sank Russian cruiser of Zhemchug and French destroyer of Mousquet in a battle known as the Battle of Penang. The attack resulting 135 sailors been killed while another 157 wounded mainly from the Russian and French side. Local Malay fishermen who were doing their daily activities not far from the area then rush to the site to save any sailors they could.[13]

As part of the World War II when the Japanese had landed in Kelantan on 8 December 1941 and following the Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse on 10 December, the Japanese advancement finally arrived to launch airstrikes when their jets were sighted off the town on 11 December without any warnings.[14] The Japanese jet fighters and bombers arrived in V-formations while the town residents were amazed to see the formation by came out from their homes and buildings which turned into an horrified moments when they saw the jets dropped a weird thing (which is actually a bomb).[14] When the bomb hit one of the buildings in the town and resulted in an explosion, the town residents became panic more so when they saw many residents have lying unconsciously on the streets and the buildings were in fire. Many residents began quickly to evacuate the town to saved their lives and looting were common at the time.[14]

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No. 453 Squadron with sixteen-F2A Buffalo did eventually tried to counter the Japanese airstrikes, but met with a failure with many of the Australian pilots killed during dog-fights. The town was burned for days following the success of Japanese bombing with around 600 town residents killed instantly and another 1,100 wounded.[14] The Japanese continue its advancement with land attacks on 19 December, and until 22 December, the first contingent of the Japanese land forces consisting 200 people arrived to overtake the town as well the island which marking the beginning of Japanese occupation in Penang as part of the Empire of Japan.[15]

Capital city

Local authority and city definition




Ethnicity and religion





Public transport



Other utilities

Courts of law and legal enforcement

Health care



Culture and leisure

Attractions and recreational spots



Leisure and conservation areas

Other attractions




International relations

Several countries have set up their consulates in George Town, including Australia,[16] Austria,[17] Canada,[17] China,[18] Denmark,[17] Finland,[17] Germany,[17] Indonesia,[19] Japan,[20] Poland,[21] Russia,[17] Sweden,[17] Thailand,[22] and the United Kingdom.[23]

Sister cities

George Town has six sister cities:

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 "Looking for a 2016 vacation? Here are 16 must-see destinations". Los Angeles Times. 26 December 2015. Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Malaysia Elevation Map (Elevation of George Town)". Flood Map : Water Level Elevation Map. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Toni Marie Ford. "Penang Beach Holiday". Tropical Sky. Retrieved 1 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Hamdan Abdul Majeed (11 April 2012). "Urban Regeneration : The Case of Penang, Malaysia (Putting Policy into Practice) - The Penang Metropolitan Region (George Town Conurbation)" (PDF). Khazanah Nasional. World Bank. pp. 10/20. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ashley Jackson (November 2013). Buildings of Empire. OUP Oxford. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-19-958938-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 "History of Penang". Penang State Government. 14 September 2008. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Penang connection". The Hindu. 18 August 2014. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Swettenham; Frank Athelstane (1850–1946). "Map to illustrate the Siamese question". W. & A.K. Johnston Limited. University of Michigan Library. Retrieved 9 January 2016. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Robert K. Home (2013). Of Planting and Planning: The Making of British Colonial Cities. Routledge. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-0-415-54053-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books. 2007. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-983-9886-00-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Walter Makepeace; Gilbert E. Brooke; Roland St. J. Braddell; John Murray. "One hundred years of Singapore : being some account of the capital of the Straits Settlements from its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles on the 6th February 1819 to the 6th February 1919". Library Bureau, University of Toronto Libraries. Internet Archive. Retrieved 9 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Ajay Kamalakaran (20 May 2015). "Battle of Penang: When Malay fishermen rescued Russian sailors". Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved 12 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Alan Warren (2006). Britain's Greatest Defeat: Singapore 1942. A&C Black. pp. 109–. ISBN 978-1-85285-597-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Salma Nasution Khoo; Alison Hayes; Sehra Yeap Zimbulis (2010). Giving Our Best: The Story of St. George's Girls' School, Penang, 1885-2010. Areca Books. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-967-5719-04-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Australian Consulate in Penang, Malaysia". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia). Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 "Directory of Consulates". Penang State Government. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Lim Guan Eng (8 October 2013). "The New China's Consulate-General Office In Penang Reflects The Burgeoning Increase In Chinese Arrivals By 50% For Tourism And Business Air Travellers At The Penang International Airport". Penang Chief Minister Office. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, Penang". Consulate General of Indonesia, Penang, Malaysia. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Consulate-General of Japan in Penang, Malaysia". Consulate-General of Japan in Penang, Malaysia. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Opening the first Consulate Honorary of the Republic of Poland in West Malaysia". Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Kuala Lumpur. 14 April 2014. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Royal Thai Consulate-General, Penang, Malaysia". Royal Thai Consulate-General, Penang, Malaysia. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Supporting British nationals in Malaysia". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 December 2015. Working with local partners and honorary representatives in Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to assist British nationals<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Hans Michelmann (28 January 2009). Foreign Relations in Federal Countries. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 198–. ISBN 978-0-7735-7618-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Achievements of the Sister City Relationship". Adelaide City Council. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  27. "Kunjungan Hormat oleh Konsul Jeneral ke atas Walikota Medan" (in Malay). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. 13 September 2012. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  29. "Sister Cities Agreement, Georgetown". International Affairs Division, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Natthaphol Wittayarungrote (18 September 2014). "Phuket and Penang become twin cities". Phuket Gazette. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links