Saturday, August 27, 2011

George Town - Malaysia

George Town or Georgetown, is the capital of the state of Penang in Malaysia. Named after Britain's King George III, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island. The Georgetown metropolitan has a population of 1,253,748, the second largest metropolitan in Malaysia by population.
Formerly a municipality and then a city in its own right, since 1976 George Town has been part of the municipality of Penang Island, though the area formerly governed by the city council is still commonly referred to as a city, and is also known as Tanjung ("The Cape") in Malay and Qiáozhì Shì in Chinese. 
The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

George Town was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company, as base for the company in the Malay States. He obtained the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah and built Fort Cornwallis on the north-eastern corner of the island. The fort became the nexus of a growing trading post and the island's population reached 12,000 by 1804.
The town was built on swampy land that had to be cleared of vegetation, leveled and filled. The original commercial town was laid out between Light Street, Beach Street (then running close to the seashore), Malabar Street (subsequently called Chulia Street) and Pitt Street (now called Masjid Kapitan Keling Street).

The warehouses and go downs extended from Beach Street to the sea. By the 1880s, there were ghauts leading from Beach Street to the wharf and jetties as Beach Street receded inland due to land reclamation. A new waterfront was created at Weld Quay, where commercial buildings sprang up.
The historic commercial centre was segmented into the banking and trading areas related to port activities which included shipping companies, the import and export trade, and the wholesalers who dominate the southern section of Beach Street until now. It has been listed as a World Heritage site since July 2008.

The hub of George Town’s waterfront commercial and financial district
At the turn of the 19th century, the northern section of Beach Street and the adjacent Bishop Street were the ‘high street’ where the ‘modern’ European emporium and stores selling imported merchandise were situated.

Among the early foreign companies that located their offices on Beach Street were the Netherlands Trading Society, the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the Chartered Bank, Boustead & Co., Guthne & Co., Caldbeck & Macgregor, Behn Meyer, Sandilands & Buttery, G.H. Slot and the stores of Pritchard & Co., Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., and others. Among the local businesses that were established here during this period were H.M. Nooradin, Tiang Lee & Co., Guan Lee Hin Steamship, Tye Sin Tat, Pinang Sales Room, Koe Guan and others. Penang’s first petroleum lamps were installed on this section of Beach Street by Huttenbach & Co..

International recognition
George Town was voted as one of the best cities in Asia by Asiaweek, ranked 6th in 1998 and 9th in 2000. More recently, George Town has improved a notch to rank as the 9th most liveable city in Asia in a survey of 254 cities worldwide according to an international location ratings survey by Employment Conditions Abroad Limited (ECA International), an agency that develops and provides solutions for the management and assignment of employees around the world, in its annual Location Ratings Survey. Previously it was ranked 10th in 2009 which saw the biggest improvement in scores among the 49 Asians cities surveyed by rising 11 notches in global best cities ranking from 74 to 63. A city is judged based on living standards according to categories, including climate, air quality, health services, housing and utilities, isolation, social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, personal safety and political tension.

On 7 July 2008, George Town was, together with Malacca, formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is officially recognized as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

In the past, George Town boasted of having the best public transportation system in Malaysia, with Electric Trams, Trolleybuses and also Double-decker buses. They have since been stopped in the 1970.
Today, George Town is well connected by roads, buses and etc. The Jelutong Expressway connects the city to Bayan Lepas and the Penang International Airport. With this highway, trips to the airport were cut short to 30 minutes instead of almost an hour in the past. The Penang International Airport serves as the main airport of the northern part of Malaysia.

To get over to Butterworth in the mainland, the Penang Ferry Service at Weld Quay operates every day since 1920. Passengers, cars and motorcycles can all travel in the ferry. Other than that, commuters can drive to the Penang Bridge, located in Gelugor, to cross over to the mainland. To travel elsewhere around Malaysia, through the Penang Bridge, commuters can take the North-South Expressway to reach their destinations.
Public transportation is George Town is operated mainly by Rapid Penang, the main bus company in Penang now. Almost every bus connects George Town to their respective destinations, with Weld Quay being the main terminal of Rapid Penang in Penang Island and Komtar being the main hub. There is also a free bus service operated by Rapid Penang. This bus service is only located within George Town, and it also operates every day, taking commuters a drive along George Town's famous heritage sites.

Express buses used to stop at Komtar at the past but has sinced been relocated to the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, which is not that far away. There are many express bus companies operating 24 hours there, and main destinations are usually Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. There are also some buses travelling out of Malaysia, mainly to Hat Yai, Thailand and Singapore.
Other than that, George Town is famous for having trishaws plying the city. The Port of Penang has 4 ports, with 3 on the mainland and one terminal here, Swettenham Pier. The port links Penang to over 200 ports all over the world. There is also a cruise ship situated here and it has become an attraction here.

George Town features a tropical rainforest climate, under the Koppen climate classification. As is the norm for many cities with this climate, George Town experiences relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year, with an average high temperature of about 31 degrees Celsius and an average low of 24 degrees Celsius. While George Town does not have a true dry season, its driest months are from December through February. The city sees on average around 2550 mm of precipitation annually.

Source, Images:,_Penang


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