Overview of Kuala Lumpur

History of Kuala Lumpur

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For centuries, Malaysia's strategic position brought trade and foreign influences to its history. Although the region is rich in culture and history, the nation of Malaysia is only about 50 years old.

In 1405, the Chinese arrived in Melaka with the greetings from the Emperor and the promise of protection from the Siamese. Melaka soon became a powerful port and around the same time, Islam arrived.

Melaka's economic growth attracted Europeans and it was the Portuguese who first took over in 1511, followed by the Dutch in 1641 and finally the British in 1795. For years the British controlled Malaysia to protect their trade routes and the British agreed to make annual payments to the Sultan to do so.

The British brought in the Chinese to work in the tin mines and the Indians to work in the rubber plantations and to build the railways. In the late 19th century, Chinese workers and Malay's had a civil war and there was an increase of piracy in the peninsula. Great Britain had to play a more direct part in affairs to restore order.

Malaysia's economy was flourishing due to tin and rubber, giving it strategic importance during World War 2. On December 8th, 1941, the Japanese bombed the Kota Bharu and Singapore. Due to the lack of ammunition and inadequately trained soldiers, Malaysia was occupied for nearly four years by the Japanese. It wasn't until August 1945; the British were able to re-establish their authority.

After the defeat of the Japanese, a new problem emerged. An intense jungle war began by Chinese guerrilla fighters. Citizens lived in constant fear that the Communists would appear and travelling was dangerous. However, new security forces proved too strong for the Communists. The Malaya Emergency lasted for twelve years, ending in 1960.

In August 1957, Malaya achieved independence from British colonial rule, but the success was followed by instability due to an internal communist uprising and the external 'Confrontation' with Indonesia. In 1963 the north Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak together with Singapore, joined Malaya to create Malaysia. However, due to political differences between Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore left and became an independent nation on August 9th, 1965. Local insurgencies continued until recently. However, Malaysia has survived its hardships and has now begun to thrive.

Kuala Lumpur

In 1857, a group of 87 Chinese miners, paddled up the Klang in search of tin. Tin was in huge demand by the American and British empire and in Ampang, a few miles east of the modern day KL, there were large reserves of tin. The miners named it "muddy confluence," built a small village within a month. By 1862, Kuala Lumpur was a growing village as new mining settlements sprung up. During this time, there were conflicts between Chinese and Malay gangs. Arguments broke out over mining rights and control of drinking water.

It wasn't until 1880 when Kuala Lumpur became a modern town. British representatives developed the first city plan and built colonial houses, which are still seen today. Kuala Lumpur became the capital of Selangor State in 1887 and in 1896; the city became a center of British Colonialism. The Federated Malay States formed and KL was chosen due to its central location.

After 151 years of British rule, Malaysia gained independence on August 21, 1957. With independence, KL poised for its next big transformation. Kuala Lumpur was appointed the capital of the independent Federation of Malaya and in 1963, Kuala Lumpur became to capital of Malaysia.

After a few years of growth, Kuala Lumpur saw its darkest days in 1969, when the Malaysian Race Riots broke out. Tensions between the Chinese and Malay escalated and civil unrest swept through the city. Hundreds of people were killed and a state of emergency was declared and last for two years. The government tired to dissolve the tension but due to support of the growing economy and the desire for cooperation between the ethnic groups, tensions subsided. 1974, Kuala Lumpur left the state of Selangor and became the status of Federal Territory with its own administration.

During the past 20 years, Kuala Lumpur has undergone massive economic and population growth. The Petronas Towers, once the world's tallest buildings, towers above Kuala Lumpur; no one would recognize where KL began, at the rivers confluence. Today, live is peaceful and cooperative.

Update 3/06/2015

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