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Introduction to Pulau Pangkor


Facts about Pulau Pangkor

Population About 20.000
Currency Malaysian Ringit RM (US $1 = RM 3)
Language Bahasa Malaysia but English is widely spoken
Temperature Tropical, 25-35ÂșC, monsoon from October to February

Teluk KetapangFor more facts on Malaysia, see our Travel Malaysia section before coming to Pulau Pangkor, find hard facts on Malaysia, the country, religion, geography and much more.

The island is located in north west Malaysia, roughly in between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, both about 180 km from Pangkor Island. Pangkor is part of the state Perak and it's capital, Ipoh is about 70km to the east.

A brief history of Pulau Pangkor

There is not much known about the origins of the inhabitants of Pangkor. The local inhabitants believed that the island was protected by the spirits, so they called the island the Spirit Island.

Another name for Pulau Pangkor in the old days was Dinding, which means 'screen' or 'partition'. The Dinding river's delta flows into the Straits of Malacca just opposite of the island.

The Straits of Mallaca was not a very safe route for ships because of the frequent attacks by attacks who had on and off a base at Pangkor. Pirate Cave and Pirate Rock, though difficult to access nowadays remember these days.

In 1670, the Dutch build a fort they called Dinding. 20 years later they gave it up but came back in the mid 18th century for a short time. The fort was build to prevent tin smuggling but it was not the effect the Dutch wanted, maybe also because it was a small fort with about 60 soldiers.

Read more on the history of the Dutch Fort

Dutch FortIn 1743 the fort was rebuilt but the Dutch did not stay long. Soon after, early 19th century, the British came. They renamed the island first Pulau Kera (Monkey Island) and later Pulau Aman (Peaceful Island). Much later it was renamed Pulau Pangkor.

The fort was abandoned after it was attacked by a local warrior, Panglima Kulub, and his followers. It was in a ruined state until in 1973 Muzium Negara (National Museum) took up the task to renovate and reconstruct the fort. Unfortunately there wasn't much left and nowadays only the walls and paintings on a rock (Tiger Rock) remain. In front of the fort, there's a small park with signboards explaining more about the Dutch Fort.

There is a canon in the park to emphesize on the nature of the fort.

Pangkor Treaty 1874

One of the important events related to Pangkor's history is the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. The treaty was important because it was the official start of the British involvement in Malaysa politics.

Click here for more on the Pangkor Treaty

Pangkor Island 1897
Pangkor Island 1897 (photo taken in the coffee shop at Teluk Nipah

Pangkor's modern days

In the 1960's and 70's , the name 'Pangkor' became synonymous for salted fish, ikan bilis production, dried shrimps, shrimp paste etc. Kids grew up on 'Satay Fish', a delicious snack made of barbecued and caramelized fish wafers. Those were the days when the packaging was secondary to the content and hygiene was not of utmost priority.

Dried fish at Pangkor In Pangkor Town you will find many shops stuffed with all sorts of products from the sea. The supply comes, of course, from the local villages. Nowadays the packages are vacuum sealed but once it was different. The satay fish, dried jellyfish (!) and dried squid are delicious though some find the smell a bit stinky.

With the development of Malaysia, and in particular Perak and Pangkor, the tourist industry found its way into Perak and Pangkor too. Perak has nowadays several tourist destinations: Taiping with the Taiping Zoo, Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar are only a few of the tourist centers.

What is left of Pangkor's history?

Unfortunately there isn't a lot left of Pangkor's history. The photo above shows Pangkor Town with small fishermen huts. All of these are nowadays replaced by more modern (and mostly stone) buildings. Only the Dutch Fort and Tiger Rock give a glimpse of the past of Pangkor's history.

Dutch Fort at the east coast of pangkor

The Dutch Fort

More on Malaysia's history you may read here.

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Pasir Salak

Not far from Pangkor is the Pasir Salak complex. A must visit for anyone who has an interest in Modern Malaysian history.

Pasir Salak Birch monument

Pasir Salak


Pangkor Treaty

The Pangkor Treaty is an important moment in the history of Malaysia and Pangkor in particular. Here's the full story why:

Pangkor Treaty


More about Malaysian History

An extensive exploration of the history of Malaysia is beyond the scope of this website. However, there are plenty of things, important enough for us, to write a page about some of the highlights of the Malaysian history.

Malaysian history




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