- Population: 2.3 million
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Places to See Around
Perak offers visitors a surprising range of activities to indulge in - an adventure in the rainforest, exploring magnificent limestone hill and caves, relaxation at island resorts, agro-tourism and a learning experience on tin mining in Malaysia. Perak, Malaysia is just adjacent to the states of Kedah and Penang (in the north) and is north of Selangor. It also has a border with Thailand (on the northeast). Perak is known for its spectacular limestone hills seen throughout the Kinta valley as you drive through towards Ipoh. Much of the highlands are covered with lush green forests - a paradise for nature lovers. If you wonder what Perak looks like, you may have seen the beauty of the state in the movies. The Hollywood movie 'Anna and the King', staring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fatt was filmed extensively here. (Location of Perak) labu or clay calabash, ceramic ware, Perak Malaysia A large extent of the state is forested and the low-lying areas are mainly open tin mines or areas left behind by the long history of mining. However many of these areas now supports agricultural activities such as vegetable and fruit farming, fish and poultry industries and oil palm plantations. Perak has the largest number of limestone quarries, supplying most of Malaysia's aggregate and marble for the building and road construction industry. Tin is still being mined in open pit mines. However, old mine field are now famed for pomelos (a citrus fruit) and guava. The abundance of fine clay also makes Perak the centre of the ceramic industry. Many garden pottery sold in Malaysia comes from Perak and the labu sayong (clay calabash) of Perak is a unique clay handicraft that is only produced here.
The most famous archaeological findings in Malaysia is the Perak Man, a 10,000 to 11,000 year old human skeletal remains discovered at Lenggong, Perak in 1991. The cave where it was found is located in Gua Gunung Runtuh at Bukit Kepala Gajah.
The earliest history of a civilization in Perak is written in the Kedah Annals. Legends tell of a Hindu-Malay kingdom called Gangga Negara in northwest Perak. The Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa or Kedah Annals describes Gangga Negara as founded by Merong Mahawangsa's son Raja Ganjil Sarjuna of Kedah. (Merong Mahawangsa was the first Raja of Kedah - see Kedah history). Archaeologists believe that the kingdom was centred at the present-day town of Beruas and it collapsed after an attack by King Rajendra Chola I of the Chola Empire (south India). Gangga Negara was said to control the area around Beruas and Dinding/ Manjong. Artefacts found at these sites dates back to as early as the 5th and 6th century AD.
Much of Perak was under the Melaka Sultanate in the 15th century. Formal recorded history of the state begins with the installation of Sultan Muzaffar Shah 1, who was a descendent of Sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca, in the year 1528. With the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511, the royals of the Malacca Sultanate fled. The eldest son of the Sultan, Muzaffar Shah, went north to Perak, where he become the first sultan of Perak. Today, Perak is the only royal house descended directly from the Malacca Sultanate.
The discovery of tin in the state brought riches as well as foreign threats. After 1641, the Dutch attempted to establish a monopoly over Perak's tin trade but failed. Then in the 18th century, the Bugis in the South and the Thai in the north tried to exert control. The state was saved through British assistance in the 1820's
Perak became renowned for tin with the discovery of tin in Larut, Taiping in 1848 by Long Jaafar. This brought an influx of Chinese miners to the state. In the 1870s the state was embroiled in dispute over the throne between Raja Yusuf, Raja Ismail and Raja Abdullah. As the claimants to the throne took sides between feuding Chinese miners of two groups, the Ghee Hin (Cantonese) and Hai San (Hakka), it soon transformed into a civil war involving the Malay chiefs of Perak. This led to the British intervention in 1874 to protect their interest. Under the Pangkor Treaty, the British settled the Chinese dispute, cleared the Sultan succession dispute, appointing Raja Abdullah as sultan and placed Perak under British Residency.
The first resident, J. W. W. Birch administered the state without studying government regulations been practiced in the state nor did he understand the feeling and customs of the Malay Rulers. Thus his presence raised feelings of dissatisfaction among the Malays. This led to the murder of Birch, in November 1875. Sultan Abdullah and the other chiefs implicated in the murder were banished and the murderer Datuk Maharaja Lela was sentenced to death by hanging at Matang. Raja Muda Yusuf was declared regent by the British. The capital of Perak was moved from Bandar Baru to Taiping in 1875. In 1937 the capital was moved to Ipoh. British control continued and in 1896, Perak became a Federated Malay State, which lasted until the Japanese invasion. After the Japanese occupation in September 1945, the British Military Administration took over. The Malay Federation was formed on 1 February 1948 and on 31 August 1957 Malaya gained it independence.