George Town, Penang

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George Town
City Centre
Skyline of George Town
Flag of George Town
Official logo of George Town
Motto: Memimpin Sambil Berkhidmat
("Leading We Serve")
George Town is located in Peninsular Malaysia
George Town
George Town
Location in Peninsular Malaysia
George Town is located in Malaysia
George Town
George Town
Location in Malaysia
Coordinates: 5°25′00″N 100°19′00″E / 5.41667°N 100.31667°E / 5.41667; 100.31667
Country Malaysia
State Penang
District North-East Penang Island
Founded 1786
Municipality established 1857
Granted city status 1957
 • Mayor (Datuk Bandar) Patahiyah Ismail
 • City Centre 305.773 km2 (118.060 sq mi)
 • Metro 2,740.000 km2 (1,057.920 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13.1 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City Centre 510,996
 • Density 4,299/km2 (11,130/sq mi)
 • Metro 1.5 million
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC)

George Town[1] (also less commonly spelt as Georgetown[2]) is the capital and largest city of the state of Penang, Malaysia. George Town is also the district capital of North East Penang Island district.

Named after Britain's King George III, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island. The inner city has a population of 510,996, while the metropolitan area, also known as the George Town Conurbation,[3][4] consists of Jelutong, Sungai Pinang, Sungai Nibong, Gelugor, Air Itam, Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong with a combined population of 1.5 million making it the second largest metropolitan area and the biggest northern metropolis in Malaysia.[5]

The settlement was declared a city in 1957 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.[6] In 2015, Penang island, on which George Town is located, was also awarded city status.

The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The enclave consists of colonial architecture built during the heyday of British rule over the Straits Settlements (Penang, Singapore and Malacca), mixed with Chinese shophouses, five foot ways and places of worship of various religions. George Town is awarded the UNESCO listing for its "unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia".

George Town is also known as Tanjung ("The Cape") in Malay, Qiáozhì Shì (乔治市) in Chinese and ஜோர்ஜ் டவுன் (Georgetown) in Tamil. Its Malay name is derived from the older name of the town, Tanjung Penaga ("Cape Penaigre").


1811 print of early George Town
1884 map of early George Town and the hills to the west
Aerial view of George Town, Penang from the east in 2010
The coat of arms of the City Council of George Town

George Town was founded on 11 August 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.[7] The fort became the nexus of a growing trading post and the island's population reached 12,000 by 1804.Monographs on Malay Subjects, Volume III. MBRAS. 1925. Psge 42.[8][9][10][citation needed]

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.[11]

On 1 January 1957, George Town was declared a city by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.[6]

In 2015, Penang island as a whole, was awarded city status by the Malaysian government.[12] Thus, George Town is the only city in Malaysia to have been conferred city status twice, firstly by the British monarch, and later, by the Malaysian government.


The City Hall housing the City Council of Penang Island

In 2015, the entire Penang island (on which George Town is located) was granted city status, thus upgrading the municipal council into the Penang Island City Council (Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang).[13]

Parliament And State Assembly[edit]

The State Assembly Building

List of George Town representatives in the Federal Parliament (Dewan Rakyat)

Parliament Seat name Member of parliament Party
P.048 Bukit Bendera Zairil Khir Johari DAP
P.049 Tanjong Ng Wei Aik DAP
P.050 Jelutong Ooi Chuan Aun DAP
P.051 Bukit Gelugor Ramkarpal Singh A/L Karpal Singh DAP

List of George Town representatives in State Legislative Assembly

Parliament State Seat name State assemblyman Party
P.048 N.22 Tanjong Bunga Teh Yee Cheu DAP
P.048 N.23 Air Puteh Lim Guan Eng DAP
P.048 N24 Kebun Bunga Cheah Kah Peng PKR
P.048 N.25 Pulau Tikus Yap Soo Huey DAP
P.049 N.26 Padang Kota Chow Kon Yeow DAP
P.049 N.27 Pengkalan Kota Lau Keng Ee DAP
P.049 N.28 Komtar Teh Lai Heng DAP
P.050 N.29 Dato Keramat Jagdeep Singh Deo DAP
P.050 N.30 Sungai Pinang Lim Siew Khim DAP
P.050 N.31 Batu Lanchang Law Heng Kiang DAP
P.051 N.32 Seri Delima Nethaji Rayer DAP
P.051 N.33 Air Itam Wong Hon Wai DAP
P.051 N.34 Paya Terubong Yeoh Soon Hin DAP

Unesco World Heritage Site[edit]

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv
Reference 1223
UNESCO region Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 2008 (32nd Session)

On 7 July 2008, George Town was, together with Malacca, formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is officially recognised as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.[14]

Due to strict rent controls, George Town retains many of its colonial-era shophouses to this day and is often considered an architectural gem. Since the repeal of the rent controls in 2000, many pre-war buildings have given way to new high rises. Partly for this reason, the city was listed in the 2000 and 2002 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund (WMF). Heritage guidelines are still in its infancy and much needs to be done to conserve architectural treasures for the benefit of future generations. In 2005 WMF helped restore an 1870s structure within the George Town Historic Enclave, with support from American Express. The structure is used by the Penang Heritage Trust as a model to further its mission to protect the most significant buildings in the community.[15]


The iconic 65-storey KOMTAR tower in the heart of George Town is Penang's tallest building
The view of Little India
State of Penang map with the George Town capital labelled
The 13.5 km (8.4 mi) long Penang Bridge
Penang Port
Rapid Penang in Jetty Bus Terminal
Tanjung City Marina (foreground), with a cruise liner docking at the Swettenham Pier, George Town
Komtar, as seen along Penang Road, near the junction of Argyll Road.

In the past, George Town can boast of having the best public transportation system in Malaysia, with electric trams, trolleybuses and also double-decker buses. George Town Municipal Transport operated both trams and trolleybuses, the tramway system being steadily replaced in the mid-20th. century by trolleybuses, first introduced in 1925. GTMT is famous for having operated the smallest public service trolleybus. In the 1950s, GTMT bought ex-London Transport trolleybuses. Despite having purchased new Sunbeam British trolleybuses in 1956/7, the system was abandoned in 1961.[16] The use of double-decker buses ceased in the 1970s when George Town Transport ceased to trade, the network being operated by private-owned buses.

George Town has an extensive road network. The Jelutong Expressway connects the city to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone 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. Several destinations within Malaysia and Asia are covered, such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Taipei.

To get over to Butterworth on the mainland, the Penang Ferry Service at Weld Quay operates daily since 1920. Passengers, cars and motorcycles can all travel using the ferries.

Other than the ferry service, commuters can drive over the Penang Bridge to cross over to the mainland. In 2014, the Second Penang Bridge was opened. This second bridge is currently the longest bridge in Southeast Asia, and is located further to the south, linking Batu Maung on the island with Batu Kawan on the mainland. To travel elsewhere around Malaysia, commuters can take the North-South Expressway after both bridges to reach their destinations.

Contemporary public transportation in George Town is operated by Rapid Penang, the sole bus company in Penang. Almost every bus connects George Town to their respective destinations, with Weld Quay being the main terminal of Rapid Penang on Penang Island and Komtar being the main hub. There is also a free bus service operated by Rapid Penang. This bus service only serves George Town daily, taking commuters and tourists on a drive along George Town's famous heritage sites. Recently, open-air double decker buses, known as Hop-On Hop-Off buses, are introduced for tourists in George Town.[17]

Express buses used to stop at Komtar but has since been relocated to the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, at the suburbs of the city. There are many express bus companies operating 24-hours there, and the main domestic destinations are Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur. There are also express buses travelling to Singapore and southern Thailand.

George Town also has numerous cycle rickshaws plying its streets.

Beginning 2015, the Penang Transport Master Plan is to be implemented by the Penang state government. The plan envisages, among others :

With the completion of the plan in 2030, the Penang state government aims to have multiple public transportation systems on the ground, at sea and even in the air.


George Town's city suburbs[edit]

Night scene of Jelutong Penang.
Gurney Drive in Nov 2008
Tanjung Bungah view at night
Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi at Armenian Road.

George Town metropolitan satellite towns[edit]

  • Bayan Lepas Bayan Baru Balik Pulau Kepala Batas Butterworth Permatang Pauh Bukit Mertajam Perai Nibong Tebal in Penang
  • Sungai Petani Kulim Yan Serdang Baling Sik in Kedah
  • Parit Buntar Bagan Serai Selama Taiping Kuala Kangsar Gerik in Perak

[5] The George Town Conurbation Plan


George Town features a tropical rainforest climate, under the Köppen 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 2,550 mm (100.4 in) of precipitation annually.

Climate data for George Town
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32
Average low °C (°F) 24
Average precipitation mm (inches) 70

List of schools in George Town[edit]

English Schools[edit]

Chinese schools[edit]

Tamil Schools[edit]


Miscellaneous education[edit]

The Penang Japanese (Supplementary) Saturday School (ペナン補習校 Penan Hoshūkō?, PJSS), a supplementary Japanese school, holds its classes in the Moral Uplifting Society of Penang. It opened in January 2012 and had six preschool and 25 primary students as of September 2013.[28]

Image gallery[edit]

International partnerships[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of Penang". Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Penang Info > History". Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  3. ^ = The Georgetown Conurbation Plan
  4. ^ = Georgetown-Sungai Petani-Kulim Growth Management Plan
  5. ^ "Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics, 2010" (PDF). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Where is George Town?". The Malay Mail. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  7. ^ 'Some Account of Poolo Penang, or Prince of Wales's Island,' The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and Its Dependencies. Vol. II, From June to December. London: Black, Parbury, & Allen. 1816. Pages 474-478
  8. ^ L. A. Mills. British Malaya 1824-67. MBRAS. 1960. Page 38.
  9. ^ Collier's Encyclopedia: With Bibliography and Index, Volume 15. 1958. Pages 515-516
  10. ^ Gorton Carruth. The Encyclopedia of World Facts and Dates. HarperCollins. 1993. Page 354
  11. ^ "Eight new sites, from the Straits of Malacca, to Papua New Guinea and San Marino, added to UNESCO's World Heritage List". 7 July 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Looi Sue-Chern (24 March 2015). "George Town a city again". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Cabinet approves city status for Penang Island
  14. ^ "Eight new sites, from the Straits of Malacca, to Papua New Guinea and San Marino, added to UNESCO's World Heritage List". UNESCO. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008. 
  15. ^ World Monuments Fund – George Town Historic Enclave
  16. ^ Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways:Ric Francis and Colin Ganley:2006. Areca Books:ISBN 978-983-42834-0-7
  17. ^ "Penang Hop-On Hop-Off". 
  18. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ SJKT Ramakrishna. Facebook. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  22. ^ Tamil school data – Penang |. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  23. ^ KDU College Malaysia, Penang Campus. (5 June 2013). Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  24. ^ SEGi College Penang | SEGi University. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  25. ^ Sentral college
  26. ^ olympia college
  27. ^ INTI international college
  28. ^ "English" (Archive). Penang Japanese (Supplementary) Saturday School. Retrieved on 22 June 2014.
  29. ^ Georgetown. Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  30. ^ Penang Bridge International Marathon official visit to Xiamen Marathon | Penang – Hotels, Resorts, Entertainment & Events. . Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  31. ^ [1]. The Star Online. Retrieved on 19 August 2012.
  32. ^ Xiamen, Penang and Adelaide as Sister cities – What's On Xiamen. (9 May 2007). Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  33. ^ Malaysia: Taipei, Georgetown ink friendship memorandum – Taiwan News (29 March 2011). Retrieved on 11 August 2011.
  34. ^ [2][better source needed].CM Lim Guan Eng official Facebook page (4 April 2012). Retrieved on 6 April 2012.
  35. ^ [3]. About Changwon (20 November 2012). Retrieved on 11 April 2014.
  36. ^ [4].Phuket Gazette (18 September 2014). Retrieved on 28 September 204.

Further reading[edit]

  • Francis, Ric; Ganley, Colin. Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways: Municipal Transport History 1880s–1963. Penang: Areca Books. (2006, 2nd ed. 2012) ISBN 9834283407.
  • Khoo Salma Nasution. More Than Merchants: A History of the German-speaking Community in Penang, 1800s–1940s. Areca Books. (2006). ISBN 978-983-42834-1-4
  • Ooi Cheng Ghee. Portraits of Penang: Little India. Areca Books. (2011). ISBN 978-967-57190-5-9

External links[edit]

Media related to George Town, Penang at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 05°25′N 100°19′E / 5.417°N 100.317°E / 5.417; 100.317