Penang today bears the mark of an early history of successive foreign influences from the early Indian Civilization that took root in northern Malaya to that of Portuguese, Dutch and later the 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 managed to persuade the Sultan Of Kedah to cede "Pulau Pinang" (Betel Nut Island) to the British East India Company. Light landed at the side of the present Esplanade and according to local legend, fired gold coins into the surrounding jungle to induce his men to clear the area. The island was originally named Prince Of Wales Island and the settlement that soon grew up was named Geogetown after King George III. In 1800, the Sultan of Kedah further ceded a strip of land on the mainland across the channel which Francis 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 a lucrative trade in tea, spices, china and cloth. For more than a hundred years, it remained under British Colonial rule until 1957 when it gained independence and became one of the states of the newly formed Federation Of Malaya and later Malaysia in 1963.