Kuala Lumpur History

History, Location, Information

Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia is located within the heart of Selangor state. It is bordered by mountainous ranges on all sides except in the East, which is why Kuala Lumpur and its adjoining areas are called the 'Klang Valley'.

Its name literally means 'muddy capital' in Malay, because of its establishment in the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers. It was previously part of Selangor until 1971, when it separated to form Malaysia's capital under the Federal Government.

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Kuala Lumpur has a hot and humid climate, but provides a consistent weather throughout most of the year. The months leading into the end of the year are generally the wettest as the rainy season casts its spell. Occasionally, parts of Kuala Lumpur do suffer from flash floods due to torrential rains, but this is the only natural hazard that beleaguers Kuala Lumpur. From time to time, forest fires in the neighbouring country of Sumatra in the West cause a phenomenon called the 'haze' in Kuala Lumpur, enveloping the city skyline in thick, dusty air.


Kuala Lumpur began life in 1857. It was then that a member of Selangor's royal family, Raja Abdullah, decided to open up an area in the Klang Valley for tin prospectors. Miners from China soon arrived and despite pestilence that killed a large number of them, the Chinese miners thrived, attracting merchants and businesses. The commercial area of tin trading was located in the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers and it was here that Kuala Lumpur was established.

Tin Industry

During this time, which was the Brinish colonial period, the tin miners were often embroiled in gang warfare, disrupting the peace and stability of the tin trade. The British authorities decided to appoint a Chinese captain, called 'Kaptian' to administer the area and ensure its order. After two Kapitans had finished their appointed period of duties, Yah Ah Loy stepped up to take the mantle. It was this third Kapitan that really changed and prospered Kuala Lumpur. Under his leadership, Kuala Lumpur transformed from a sleepy town into a prominent commercial hub in Selangor.

Gangs of Kuala Lumpur

It was also during this time that gang warfare was at its peak. It erupted into a civil war between the two main Chinese gangs, the Hai San and Ghee Hin, of which the former that Yap Ah Loy was a member. Eventually, the Hai San won, and Yap Ah Loy then rebuilt the devastated town and repopulated it with more Chinese miners. He also brought in Malay farmers to settle near Kuala Lumpur to provide food for the miners. Under his leadership, Yah Ah Loy established Kuala Lumpur's first school and a shelter for the homeless, besides building up commercial activities. After a massive fire in 1881, Yah Ah Loy replaced traditional attap houses with brick and tile as a safety precaution.

After his death, Frank Swettenham the British Resident of Selangor, took over the helm of duties and continued to prosper Kuala Lumpur until World War II. During the war, the Japanese occupied the city but they eventually surrendered in 1945 to the British after their loss in the War.

The City Today

In 1957, Malaysia gained independence from the British and it was announced and declared in Kuala Lumpur, making it a historically-significant city. Finally in 1974, Kuala Lumpur was formally removed from the jurisdiction of Selangor state and made into a Federal Territory, as Malaysia's booming economic capital. Over time, Kuala Lumpur has progressed into becoming one of Southeast Asia's most prominent, modern and sophisticated cities, attracting visitors from the across the world.

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