Georgetown, the capital city of the idyllic tropical island-state of Penang, traces its origins to the 18th century when Captain Francis Light founded a trading port here. It has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site on July 8th 2008.
Penang island is located on the northern Straits of Malacca, west of the Malaysian peninsula. Penang was one of the three British 'Straits Settlements' colonies, along with the island of Singapore and the port city of Malacca to the south.
After its establishment, Georgetown grew to become a major maritime port and for most of the 18th and 19th centuries, merchants from faraway lands – China, India, the middle east and Europe have come to trade alongside each other in Penang, and perhaps unsurprisingly, some of these early visitors decided to settle on this beautiful tropical island, with its lush forests and stunning beaches.
From these promising beginnings and over the course of the last two centuries, Georgetown has been a true cultural melting-pot, with the customs, foods and traditions of each distinct culture richly contributing to the present-day multi-ethnic and multi-religious charm of this very unique city.
According to the Economist magazine, Penang, with its racial and religious mix and dedication to the pursuit of free trade, 'was in many ways the first custom-made city of globalisation'.1
1 The Economist, 'Getting back its mojo', 13 August 2011.