Penang, Malaysia » City Info » History

The history of Penang dates back to the sixteenth century when the Portuguese traders from Goa, India, found a small island when they were sailing the Far East searching for spices. This island soon became the landmark for the traders to get freshwater 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 honour of the successor to the British Empire.

In 1790, Sultan Abdullah formed an army to take over the island and get rid of the Dutch and British. After one year, in 1791, Sultan Abdullah handed over Penang Island to the British and signed an agreement. 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 honourable Philip Dundas started ruling the island. Singapore took over Penang 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 period. British Forces recaptured the Penang Island from the Japanese in 1945.

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.