The state's administrative capital of Ipoh was known historically for tin-mining activities until the price of the metal dropped, severely affecting the state's economy. It's the forth largest city of Malaysia with a population of over 800,000 people and 70% of this population is Chinese. Most of them are Buddhists. The royal capital, however, remains at Kuala Kangsar, where the palace of the Sultan of Perak is located.
Ipoh was once a great tin mining centre but today it is the main tourist gateway in the state. The state's official name is Perak Darul Ridzuan. Perak means silver in Malay, which is probably derived from the silvery colour of tin.
The modern history of Perak began with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate. Raja Muzaffar Shah (the eldest son of the last Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mahmud Shah), fled the Portuguese conquest of 1511 and established his own dynasty on the banks of the Sungai Perak (Perak River) in 1528. Being rich in tin ore deposits, the dominion was under almost continuous threat from outsiders.
The Dutch attempted to control the tin trade in the 17th century, and built defensive forts at the mouth of the Perak River and on Pulau Pangkor.
Lost World of Tambun
In 1651, Temenggung and the people of Perak attacked and destroyed the Dutch plant. The Dutch were forced to leave their base in Perak. The Dutch sent a representative to Perak in 1655 to renew the earlier agreement and to seek compensation for the loss of their plant. The Perak government however did not honour the treaty and was thus surrounded by the Dutch; in retaliation, the people of Perak, Aceh, and Ujung Salang, launched a surprise attack on the Dutch.
In 1670, the Dutch returned to Perak to build Kota Kayu, now known as Kota Belanda ("Dutch Fortress"), on Pangkor Island. Perak agreed to the construction because of news that the Kingdom of Siam would be attacking the state. Nevertheless, in 1685, Perak once again attacked the Dutch on Pangkor
Island, forcing them to retreat and close their headquarters. The Dutch attempted to negotiate for a new treaty, but failed.
In the 19th century, the Bugis, Acehnese, and the Siamese all attempted to invade Perak, and only British intervention in 1820 prevented Siam from annexing Perak. Although the British were initially reluctant to establish a colonial presence in Malaya, increasing investment in the tin mines brought a great influx of Chinese immigrants, including Foo Ming, who formed rival clan groups allied with Malay chiefs and local gangsters which all fought for control of the mines.
In 1874 Raja Muda Abdullah and Tan Kim Ching together with an English merchant in Singapore, drafted a letter to Governor Sir Andrew Clarke in Singapore. The letter expressed Abdullah's desire to place Perak under British protection, and "to have a man of sufficient abilities to show (him) a good system of government." In 1874, the Straits Settlements governor Sir Andrew Clarke convened a meeting on Pulau Pangkor, at which Sultan Abdullah was installed on the throne of Perak in preference to his rival, Sultan Ismail. This Pangkor Treaty also required that the Sultan of Perak accept a British Resident, a post granted wide administrative powers.
In 1875, various Perak chiefs assassinated the British Resident James W. W. Birch, resulting in the short-lived Perak War of 1876. Sultan Abdullah was exiled to the Seychelles, and the British installed a new ruler. The new resident, Sir Hugh Low, was well-versed in the Malay language and local customs, and proved to be a more capable administrator. He also introduced the first rubber trees in Malaya. Perak joined Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang to form the Federated Malay States in 1896. However, the British Resident system persisted until the Malayan Union was established in 1948. Perak (as a component of the Federation of Malaya) gained its independence from the British on 31 August 1957.
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