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Malacca The Malaysia Heritage City Malaysia Heritage Site

Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL is the capital city of Malaysia, located within an enclave in the state of Selangor. A relatively young city compared to other major cities in the world, it has grown from a humble tin-mining town to a bustling metropolis within the short 150 years since its creation. Kuala Lumpur has since emerged as one of the region’s leading cities in culture, industry and commerce.


As the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, economic and financial heart of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is one the most developed and fastest growing regions of the country and is also rated as an alpha world city, giving it recognition as one of the most important centres of culture and economy in the world. Kuala Lumpur is an important political centre, hosting some portions of the judiciary along with the Parliament of Malaysia. The city was also the federal administrative centre of Malaysia until only recently, with the executive and judiciary branches having recently moved to Putrajaya in 1999.

Taking up a total area of 244 square kilometres, Kuala Lumpur is the second largest city in the nation by population, behind only Subang Jaya.


The story of Kuala Lumpur began in the 1850s. At that time, King Abdullah, a member of the Selangor Royal Family had only recently opened up the Klang Valley to Chinese tin prospectors. The area was found to be a promising site for tinmining and tin mines were quickly established in the three KL areas of Ampang, Pudu and Batu. The thriving tin mines

soon caught the attention of merchants who ocked towards the mines. The fast-developing trade and commerce quickly turned Kuala Lumpur into a busy trading post and later, a frontier town. Tensions soon grew as tin prospectors struggled among themselves for control of the tin mines. Gangs, led by the prospectors frequently battled against each other in attempts to gain control.This prompted the ruling British government to appoint a Chinese kapitan, or headman, as the administrator of Kuala Lumpur. It was the third Chinese kapitan, Yap Ah Loy, who was responsible for developing the small mining settlement into a busy town one of the early efforts that contributed towards the transformation of the small frontier town of KL to one of the most important cities in the region.

During his time, Kapitan Yap Ah Loy populated Kuala Lumpur with a great number of miners and also encouraged farmers to relocate near the area, ensuring a steady supply of food. He maintained a system of law and order in the city and also upgraded the fragile wood-and-thatching buildings to brick and tile.

Under his leadership, Kuala Lumpur prospered and was soon made into the capital of Selangor. Although initially populated mostly by miners of Chinese origin, as Kuala Lumpur grew it gradually began to resemble the multi-cultural society found in Malaysia today. Malay and Indians migrated to the area and settled down in dierent parts of the city, forming communities that remain to this day.


On 1942, Kuala Lumpur was captured by the Japanese and it remained in their control for 3 years until Japan’s surrender in 1945. Despite World War II and the Malayan Emergency later, Kuala Lumpur continued to grow and develop. It remained the Federal Capital of Malaya (later Malaysia) through Merdeka (the independence of Malaya) in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Kuala Lumpur is the rst settlement to be ocially recognized as a city post-Merdeka, having achieved the status in 1972. It later seceded from Selangor and became one of the nation’s 3 Federal Territories, passing on its status as Selangor’s capital to Shah Alam in 1978.

Architecture and Infrastructure


Kuala Lumpur’s combination of short but unique history and its fast development has made it into a place unlike any other. Colonial buildings with varied influences and styles are scattered across the city, located beside modern architecture which were constructed during recent developments. The co-existence of the contrasting structures of dierent time periods is proof that KL remains a centre of heritage in face of rapid modern development.


A number of historically and culturally-significant structures dot the cityscape, a reminder of Kuala Lumpur’s colourful past as the nation’s capital. Approximately 37,000 pre-war buildings were built between the 1800s and 1948, with a number of important structures built during the British rule still standing tall and proud today. Many of these structures, built in various styles such as Mughal, Tudor and Victorian still remain in service, although most now full a much dierent role to their original ones. These include buildings such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (now the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culure), Masjid Jamek, Dataran Merdeka, Central Market and Carcosa Seri Negara, to name a few.

Standing in contrast to the colonial buildings are the modern structures built post-Merdeka. These are the buildings that contribute to Kuala Lumpur’s status as the nation’s premier city, many of which are commercially, nancially or culturally signicant. These buildings include oces of national or multinational corporations, commercial and finance centres, shopping malls and other structures closely related to the modern urban lifestyle. A signicant number of the major modern structures are distinctively influenced by Malay and/or Islamic culture, most notably the world-famous KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers. Other structures of note include the Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture), Museum Negara, Kompleks Dayabumi and the National Library, among others.

Economic Significance


Kuala Lumpur, along with its surrounding urban areas has the fastest economic development in the nation. Rated as an Alpha World City by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC), it is the only global city in Malaysia and is the “centre for finance, insurance, real estate, media and the arts of Malaysia.” Many international companies have their Malaysian presence based in Kuala Lumpur. Also, most of the biggest local companies are based in the city, with 14 of them listed in Forbes 2000.


Although a large portion of the federal government has been moved to Putrajaya in 1999, a signicant number of the country’s financial and economical machineries still operate from Kuala Lumpur, such as Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia), Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Securities Commission.

Employment in Kuala Lumpur is estimated to be around 838,400, with the “service sector comprising finance, insurance, real estate, business services, wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, transport, storage and communication, utilities, personal services and government services form the largest component of employment representing about 83.0 percent of the total. The remaining 17 percent comes from manufacturing and construction.”


Culture & Tourism


According to Euromonitor International, Kuala Lumpur is the fifth most visited city in the world with over 8.9 million tourist arrivals in 2008. Many well-known multinational hotel chains such as Hilton, Le Meridien, Shangri-la and Westin have presence in the city, in anticipation of the large amount

of tourists coming in ever year. . Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the main international airport of the country is a mere 50km from the city. Transportation is convenient around the city, with multiple modes of transportation available for most of the day. As driving is the main mode of transportation, Kuala Lumpur has a well-connected roads and highways that lead around and out of the city. Taxis and busses are viable choices, along with a comprehensive train network that links most of the major spots in the city.