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Penang, Malaysia: Hotels, Travel information guide

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Then….

The year was 1786. An adventurous English trader, Captain Francis Light, in the service of the East India Company, had acquired Pulau Pinang (the Isle of the Betel Nut Palms) from the Sultan of Kedah in return for protection against its enemies. Light named the island (then, densely forested), Prince of Wales Island. Story has it that Light loaded the ship's cannons with silver dollars and fired them deep into the jungle so as to spur the labourers to clear the undergrowth at a quicker pace.

Soon, Georgetown (named in the honour of the King at that time, King George III) was established. The perimeters of this new town were marked by Lebuh Light (Light Street), Lebuh Chulia (Chulia Street), Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling (Pitt Street) and Lebuh Bishop (Bishop Street). Light later successfully negotiated with the Sultan again for a strip of land on the mainland, adjacent to the island, which was named Province Wellesley (now known as Seberang Prai).

In order to encourage settlers, Light granted newcomers as much land as they could clear and having declared Penang a duty-free port, the population of this virtually inhabited island swelled to over 10,000 people by the end of the 18th century.

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