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Penang, Malaysia » City Info » History

History of Penang dates back to the sixteenth century when the Portuguese traders from Goa, India found a small island when they were sailing Far East in search of spices. This island soon became the landmark for the traders to get fresh water supplies from the nearby river. The traders named the place Pulo Pinaom.
Penang turned to be the natural harbour for the Indians, Arabians, Chinese, Dutch, Danish and French ships in the 17th century. In the 18th century, the Dutch took over the Far East Spice trade. In 1786, Francis Light helped in securing Pulau Pinang from the new Sultan Abdullah of Kedah. Francis Light officially took possession of the island on 11th August 1786 and renamed it as “the Prince of Wales Island” in the honor of the successor to the British Empire.
In 1790, Sultan Abdullah formed an army to take over the island and to get rid of Dutch and English, but was defeated. After one year, in 1791, Sultan Abdullah handed over Penang Island to the British and signed an agreement with them. After Francis Light’s death on 21st October, 1794, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Wellesley took over the charge of Penang Island. In 1800, Sir George Leith, captured a part of the Island across the channel and named it Province Wellesley. Soon after this, Sir Goerge Leith became the Governor of the Prince of Wales Island. In 1805, the honorable Philip Dundas started ruling the Island. Penang was taken over by Singapore as the capital of the Straits Settlements in 1935.
On 8th December 1941, during the Second World War, Malaya was invaded by the Japanese and Penang was heavily bombed. The British fled to Singapore and Penang was under the Japanese Kempettai. Penang was living in fear with days of executions, torture and horror during this time. On 4th September 1945, the Japanese gave in to the British Forces.
On 31st august 1957, Malaya got independence and Penang became a part of its 13 component states. Today, Penang is officially called as Negeri Pulau Pinang.