Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah) is an archipelago of 99 islands (an extra 5 temporary islands are revealed at low tide) in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. In 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah consented to the change of name to Langkawi Permata Kedah in conjunction with his Golden Jubilee Celebration. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi with a population of some 65000, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba. Langkawi is also an administrative district with the town of Kuah as the capital and largest town. Langkawi is a duty-free island.
|FOUNDED :||Establishment 1957|
Granted municipal status 2001
|TIME ZONE :||MST (UTC+8)|
|LANGUAGE :||Standard Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken and understood by the locals|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8%|
|AREA :||478.5 km2 (184.7 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||6°21′N 99°48′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.55%|
• Female: 51.45%
|ETHNIC :||Malay 79,146 83.51%|
Other Bumiputras 153 0.16%
Chinese 4,325 4.56%
Indian 1,747 1.84%
Others 217 0.23%
Non-Malaysian 9,189 9.70%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||07xxx|
|DIALING CODE :||+6049 (landline only)|
On 1 June 2007, Langkawi Island was given a World Geopark status by UNESCO. Three of its main conservation areas in Langkawi Geopark are Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park (Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake). These three parks are the most popular tourism area within Langkawi Geopark. In 2014 Unesco allegedly issued a 'yellow card' warning threatening the status of the Geopark.
The Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark status was due for renewal in 2015, of which upon thorough inspection by the appointed Geopark Inspectors, Langkawi was issued the Certificate of Membership dubbed the Green Card by Asia Pacific Geoparks Network, under the auspices of the Global Geopark Network (GGN).
Tourists can enter the island via ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang. Or by domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air, Rayani Air, or Subang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) via Malindo Air and Fireflyz providing budget connection to the island. International connection is available from Singapore via Tigerair and AirAsia, as well as from Guangzhou via AirAsia.
Islands and beaches
There are two main island areas: the Southern Islands, with a heavier tourist population and the islands to the north east which are more secluded with little tourist traffic. Langun Island has a fresh-water lake like Pregnant Maiden Lake only without the tourists and has Sand Spit Beach on its south-facing orientation. Dendang Island next to it forms a bay popular with Langkawi sailing yacht tour operators who favour the area for its natural beauty and peace.
Some of the most popular beaches are Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Burau Bay, Pantai Kok, and Datai Bay. Pantai Cenang is a picturesque beach with long stretches of fine white sand. It has numerous restaurants and bars for evening entertainment, several hosting live music and for watching the sun set. The beach is lined with tall coconut and casuarina trees. Pantai Tengah is separated from Cenang by a small cape. It too faces the setting sun and is populated more by hotels than bars, making it less busy in the evening. Burau Bay, fringed by rocky outcrops, is the favourite place of migratory birds in Langkawi. Pantai Kok is a quiet beach against a backdrop of limestone hills. Datai Bay has a combination of forests and sea, its white sandy beach is backed by lush forest.
Langkawi had long been at the periphery of, but closely associated with, the domain of the old kingdom of Kedah. Legend tells of a great snake ular-besar, the custodian of the Langkawi Islands, to which a new king of Kedah must sacrifice a virgin daughter whenever he first ascended the throne, or when a war was declared with another state.
The island of Langkawi was recorded in history by Chinese and other travellers. It was calledLong-ya-pu-ti (龍牙菩提) by the Yuan Dynasty traveller Wang Dayuan , and when the Ming Dynasty admiral Zheng He visited the region he marked the island as Long-ya-jiao-yi (龍牙交椅). In the 15th century, it was known toAcehnese as Pulau Lada or Pepper Island as they came over to plant pepper. In 1691, the French general Augustin de Beaulieu recorded going to the island of "Lancahui" (Langkawi) to buy pepper, and Beaulieu was required to obtain a license from Kedah's heir apparent then in Perlisbefore the penghulu or chief of Langkawi would sell pepper to him.
Langkawi was historically home to seafarers, such as the Orang Laut originally from the southern part of the Malay peninsula, as well as pirates and fishermen. It had been thought to be cursed for a couple of centuries - according to local legend, in the late 18th century, a woman named Mahsuri was wrongfully accused of adultery and put to death, and she placed a curse on the island that would last for seven generations. Not long after Mahsuri's death, in 1821, the Siamese army invaded Kedah, and attacked Langkawi. In the first attack, the locals decided to burn down the granary at Padang Matsirat to starve and drive out the Siamese army. The Siamese nevertheless finally captured the island in May 1822, killed its leaders, and many of the islanders were taken as slaves, while others were forced to flee. Before the Siamese invasion, there was an estimated island population of 3,000–5,000, and only a small proportion was left after the invasion.
The island was recaptured from Siamese rule in a campaign against the Siamese in 1837. In 1840–1841, the Sultan of Kedah, who went into exile after the Siamese attacks, was allowed to return by the Siamese, and the population of Langkawi islands recovered afterwards mainly due to settlement of immigrants from Sumatra. However, the Orang Laut who fled after the Siamese attacks did not returned. In 1909, the islands came under British rule under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The middle of the channel between Tarutao and Langkawi would become the Siamese border, and Tarutao would be part of Siam while all the Langkawi islands to the south would come under British rule. During the Second World War, Siam took control briefly as Malaya fell to the Japanese.
Langkawi had been a haven for pirates which affected the northern part of the Malacca Strait. In a series of operations, between December 1945 and March 1946, the British cleared the pirates' land base in Langkawi and Tarutao. The British continued to rule until Malaya gained its independence in 1957.
Langkawi remained as a quiet backwater until 1986, when the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform it into a major tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands buildings himself. The island rapidly grew as a tourist destination, and by 2012, it had received over 3 million tourists a year.
Langkawi receives more than 2,400 mm (94 in) of rain annually. Langkawi has a true dry season from December until February while March to November is a long raining season. September is the wettest month, when it normally receives more than 500 mm (20 in).
Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands separated from mainland Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca, is a district of the state of Kedah in Northern Malaysia and lies approximately 51 km west of Kedah. The total land mass of the islands is 47,848 hectares. The main island spans about 25 km from north to south and slightly more for east and west. The coastal areas consist of flat, alluvial plains punctuated with limestone ridges. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills and natural vegetation.
The island's oldest geological formation, Gunung Matchincang, was the first part of South-East Asia to rise from the seabed in the Cambrian period more than half a billion years ago. The oldest part of the formation is observable at Teluk Datai to the north-west of the island, where the exposed outcrop consists of mainly sandstone (quartzite) in the upper parts and shale and mudstone in the lower parts of the sequence.
An agro-based economy of padi and rubber cultivation and fisheries is fast being overtaken by a tourism-driven economy, taking into consideration the natural, unspoiled, ecological beauty of the island and major governmental emphasis.
The Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) development program is a Malaysia Government initiative to accelerate economic growth in the north of Peninsular Malaysia – encompassing the states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and the north of Perak.
The target for NCER is to achieve increased tourism receipts per visitor from MYR1,890 (US$600) in 2005 to MYR3,034 (US$963) by 2012.
Annual tourist expenditure is targeted to increase from MYR9.0 billion (US$2.86 billion) in 2005 to MYR21.8 billion (US$6.9 billion) in 2012 and MYR64.5 billion (US$20.4 billion) in 2020.
Mobile phone coverage is very good in all built up areas of Langkawi. Many affordable pre-paid phone and data plans are available. Recharge cards are readily available except for the very cheap TuneTalk which is harder to find and SIM cards almost non existent. It is best to buy this back in LLCT where no commission is charged on the SIM. Full reception and reasonable data speeds can be achieved on the beach and inside the resorts on Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah.
The main post office in located in Kuah Town. Mini post offices can be found in Padang Mat Sirat. There is no post office in Pantai Cenang, but you can buy stamps and send postcards in T Shoppe on the main road. Courier service, Poslaju shop can be found at Taman Berlian, Kuah.
Broadband is available and some Internet cafés can be found along Pantai Tengah, Pantai Cenang and Kuah. In addition, many of the upscale hotels and resorts as well as many restaurants provide free WiFi.