Langkawi Island: Historical Development


There are 104 Islands in Langkawi archipelago where Langkawi island is the biggest (32 180 hectare). The other two are Pulau Dayang Bunting (5091 hectare) and Pulau Tuba (176 hectare). Only these three islands are being occupied. The rest is smaller and in their natural shape. However, Pulau Singa Besar and Pulau Beras Basah have been developed for tourist attraction.

Langkawi is divided into six major Mukims (areas); Kuah, Padang Matsirat, Ayer Hangat, Bohor, Ulu Melaka and Kedawang. About 1/3 of the island is covered by hilly topography. Three major places for settlement are Kuah, Padang Matsirat and Padang Lalang.

Langkawi has a turbulent history and most historical accounts of the islands are a mix of fact and fantasy. There are tales of invasions of Siam, and the warriors fighting to keep them at bay. The residents of Langkawi were mainly migrants from Acheh and Sumatera, Siam and the Malaysian States of Kedah, Perlis and Perak.





The most famous legend of Langkawi is Mahsuri. She was a daughter of a local trader. She was famous throughout Langkawi for her beauty and goodness that inspired jealousy amongst others in the community. She was being accused of committing adultery and was sentenced to death by “sula”. Mahsuri pleaded her innocence but of no avail and at last she was sentenced to death. At the time of her death, reputedly white blood gushed from her body. She cursed that Langkawi would suffer for seven generations for the injustice caused to her. The white blood was apparently an indication that Mahsuri was truly innocent. It is believed that the islands, due to that curse, lack prosperity and, any calamity that has befallen the people of Langkawi since then, has been attributed to this curse.



Langkawi is now moving fast to the era of prosperity. It was declared as Duty Free Port (DFP) on 1st January 1987. The DFP status made Langkawi as the great tourist destination. Thus different strategies and programs had been initiated to gear up the speed of development.

AdoPTED FROM:
STUDY OF HOTEL WORKERS’ PERCEPTION OF THE IMPACT OF TOURISM INDUSTRY ON THEIR SOCIAL LIFE IN LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA.(MA THESIS),ROSFAZILA BINTI HJ.ABD.RAHMAN, INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA, MARCH 2005

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