(Taken from travelingwiththejones.com)
10 Fun Facts About the Pearl of The Orient
1. Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia, and is composed of two parts – Penang Island and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula.
2. Penang was part of the Malay sultanate of Kedah until 1786, when Captain Francis Light built a fort at the site of present-day Georgetown and managed to get the island ceded to the British East India Company. Penang became the first British outpost in Southeast Asia in 1786. The island, along with Malacca and Singapore, was one of the three British Straits Settlements.
3. The name Penang comes from the Malay word Pinang, means the betel nut tree. The original name of Penang was Pulau Ka-satu or “First Island”, but on August 12, 1786 it was it renamed to Prince of Wales Island to commemorate the birthday of the Prince of Wales, who later became George IV.
4. The capital, Georgetown, was named after King George III of Great Britain. Today, Penang has the highest population density in Malaysia and is the only state where the ethnic Chinese are the majority. Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. George Town became the first city in the Federation of Malaya — by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II — on January 1, 1957.
5. Penang is the birthplace of shoe designer Jimmy Choo, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo Ltd that is known for its handmade women’s shoes. Born into a family of shoemakers, Choo’s father taught him the art of shoe-making. Jimmy made his first shoe when he was 11 years old.
6. Penang is known for being the “food paradise” of Malaysia with a wealth of street food or “hawker food” that emphasizes noodles, spices, and fresh seafood. Penang’s cuisine reflects the Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, as well as influences from Thailand.
7. Penang has an equatorial climate with temperatures ranging between 72°F to 86°F and 70-90 percent humidity.
8. Penang Hill offers the best view of Georgetown, and can be reached via a five minute ride on the Penang Hill Railway which was opened in 1923. The cable train service lifts you out of the heat and humidity of the coastal plain and up to a fabulous view with cool breezes.
9. The Kek Lok Si-Temple of Supreme Bliss, a sprawling hillside structure, is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia. A funicular train transports you to the summit of the hill featuring a giant statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
10. Penang is the first state in Malaysia to launch the “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign.