Today, Penang bears the mark of its early history of success foreign influences - from the early Hindu civilization in northern Malaya to that of the Portuguese, Dutch and later British who came to this part of the world in search of spices and stayed to participate in the lucrative trade.
The history of modern Penang can be traced back to 1786 when Francis Light persuaded the Sultan of Kedah to cede "Pulau Pinang" (Betel Nut Island) to the British East India Company. Light landed at the site of the Eplanade and purportedly, fired gold coins into sorounding jungle to induce his men to clear the area.
Originally named Prince of Wales Island, the settlement that soon grew was named George Town after King Georgre 111. In l800, the Sultan of Kedah further ceded a strip of land on the mainland across the channel, which Light named Province Wellesley after the then Governor of India.
In 1832, Penang formed part of the Straits settlement with Melaka and Singapore. It flourished and grew to be a major trading post for the lucrative tea, spices, china and cloth trade. For more than hundred years it remained under Britisdh Colonial rule until 1957 when it gained independence and became one of the state of the newely formed Federation of Malaya and later Malaysia in 1963.