Penang was the oldest of the British colonial bases in Malaya. The island had been ceded to the English East India Company by the Sultan of Kedah in 1786, with a formal treaty dated 1791. The treaty was a controversial one but this did not prevent Penang from becoming an important commercial centre, lying on the monsoon route between India and China and well-placed for a share in the coastal trade in the Malacca Straits. The chief port and town was George Town in the north-east of the island, but it became common practice later to use the name Penang equally for this town or in relation to the island as a whole. By a further treaty, dated 1800, the East India Company acquired Province Wellesley, a strip of mainland territory opposite the island and valued both for strategic reasons and as a rice-growing area for an expanding population.


East India Company Defensive Position Survey Department Trunk Road English East India Company 
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Copyright information

© Joseph Kennedy 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolUK

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