List of cities in Malaysia

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This is a list of cities of Malaysia. In Malaysia, there are populated areas which are granted city status (bandar raya) by law. However, there are also highly urbanised and populated areas which does not have city status, but are sometimes colloquially also referred to as cities. City status is granted to a place within a local government area. Other populated areas which do not have city status are legally categorised as municipalities or towns.

Cities of Malaysia[edit]

The following is a list of places in Malaysia in order by the date they were granted city status.

Name State/FT Local government(s) Chartered Population
(2010 Census)
George Town  Penang Penang Island City Council 1957-01-011 January 1957 708,127 Jurisdiction expanded in 2015 to encompass
the entirety of Penang Island[1][2]
Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory (Malaysia) Federal Territories Kuala Lumpur City Hall 1972-02-011 February 1972 1,588,750
Ipoh  Perak Ipoh City Council 1988-05-2727 May 1988 657,892
Kuching  Sarawak Kuching North City Hall
Kuching South City Council
1988-08-011 August 1988 325,132 Kuching officially consists of
two local government entities
Johor Bahru  Johor Johor Bahru City Council 1994-01-011 January 1994 497,067
Kota Kinabalu  Sabah Kota Kinabalu City Hall 2000-02-022 February 2000 452,058
Shah Alam  Selangor Shah Alam City Council 2000-10-1010 October 2000 641,306
Melaka  Melaka Melaka City Council 2003-04-1515 April 2003 484,885
Alor Setar  Kedah Alor Setar City Council 2003-12-2121 December 2003 405,523
Miri  Sarawak Miri City Council 2005-05-2020 May 2005 234,541
Petaling Jaya  Selangor Petaling Jaya City Council 2006-06-2020 June 2006 613,977
Kuala Terengganu  Terengganu Kuala Terengganu City Council 2008-01-011 January 2008 337,553
Iskandar Puteri  Johor Iskandar Puteri City Council 2017-11-2222 November 2017 529,074
Seremban  Negeri Sembilan Seremban City Council 2018-04-2014 January 2019 515,490
Former city within Malaysia
Name State Local government Chartered Ref.
Singapore Singapore Singapore Singapore City Council 22 September 1951 expelled from the Malaysian Federation on
9 August 1965


George Town became a city on 1 January 1957 by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first town in the Federation of Malaya to become a city (Singapore became a city in 1951). The royal charter stated that :

"... the said Municipality of George Town shall on the First Day of January in the year of Our Lord One thousand nine hundred and fifty seven and forever thereafter be a city and shall be called and styled the CITY OF GEORGE TOWN instead of the Municipality of George Town and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a City."

However, local government elections were abolished by the federal government in 1965, and the functions of the City Council were transferred to the Chief Minister of Penang in 1966. A Municipal Council for the whole of Penang Island, the Penang Island Municipal Council, was set up between 1974 and 1976.

Although the city status of George Town was never officially revoked, George Town's existence as a corporate entity was in doubt, let alone as a city. This is similar to the position of the former city of Rochester in England, the site of England's second-oldest cathedral, which had been a city from 1211 until 1998, when it was merged with a neighbouring borough. As the new council was not granted city status, and the city through oversight failed to appoint charter trustees to inherit the city charter, the city ceased to exist.

This view was disagreed with by most local residents, who held that as George Town's city status has never been revoked, it remains a city to this day. According to lawyer, Datuk Anwar Fazal, George Town "legally has been and is still a city because the City of George Town Ordinance 1957 had not been repealed".[3] As city status is a matter of law, the actual legal position will depend on an analysis of the City Council of Penang (Transfer of Functions) Order 1966 and the Local Government Act 1976.

On 1 January 2015, the Malaysian federal government upgraded the Penang Island Municipal Council into the present-day Penang Island City Council, thereby expanding the city limit of George Town to encompass the entirety of Penang Island, as well as a handful of surrounding islets.[1][2]

Subsequent cities[edit]

The royal charters for Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Shah Alam, Melaka, Alor Setar and Miri were from the Malaysian head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, while Ipoh, Johor Bahru and Iskandar Puteri were granted by their respective state sultans.[3] Malacca City was declared a "historical city" prior to being granted city status in 2003.

Kuala Lumpur, the largest city, is the federal capital and a federal territory, but as of 2003, most government executive bodies are moving to the new administrative capital and federal territory of Putrajaya.


Among the latest (2008) basic criteria for granting City status on a local government is that it has a minimum population of 500,000 and an annual income of not less than RM 100 million.[4]

Locations of cities[edit]


Kuala Lumpur is by far the largest urban area as well as the largest metropolitan area in Malaysia. George Town, the capital city of Penang, is the second largest city in Malaysia and the heart of Malaysia's second largest conurbation. To the south, the twin cities of Johor Bahru and Iskandar Puteri form the core of the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Other metropolitan areas with a population of more than 500,000 include Ipoh, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

The following table shows the largest cities by population in Malaysia.

Largest cities of Malaysia (2010)[5]

Kuala Lumpur at dawn (18794580599).jpg
Kuala Lumpur
2018 New Year Fireworks in George Town, Penang.jpg
George Town

Rank City State Population

Ipoh town.jpg
RapidKL Kelana Jaya line Petaling Jaya.jpg
Petaling Jaya

1 Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory (Malaysia) Federal Territories 1,588,750
2 George Town  Penang 708,127
3 Ipoh  Perak 657,892
4 Petaling Jaya  Selangor 613,977
5 Shah Alam  Selangor 541,306
6 Iskandar Puteri  Johor 529,074
7 Seremban  Negeri Sembilan 515,490
8 Johor Bahru  Johor 497,067
9 Malacca  Malacca 484,885
10 Kota Kinabalu  Sabah 452,058


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cavina Lim (25 March 2015). "Penang's First Mayor A Woman". The Star. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "George Town meliputi 'pulau', jelas Datuk Bandar" (PDF). Buletin Mutiara. 1 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Sultan of Johor launches Mersing Harbour Centre". NST Online. 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  4. ^ "Criteria Status for Local Authority". Local Government Department. 30 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Population Distribution by Local Authority Areas and Mukims, 2010 (page 1 & 8)" (PDF). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2013.

External links[edit]