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Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah
Langkawi Permata Kedah
A view of Kuah town, the commercial centre of Langkawi Island
A view of Kuah town, the commercial centre of Langkawi Island
Motto: Bandaraya Pelancongan (English: City of Tourism)
Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah is located in Malaysia
Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah
Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah
Location of Langkawi
Country Malaysia
State Kedah
Establishment 1957
municipal status
 • Yang Di-Pertua
En. Zabudin bin Hat
 • Total 478.5 km2 (184.7 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 94,777
 • Density 200/km2 (510/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC)
Postal code 07xxx
International dialling code prefix +6049 (landline only)
Website .my.govmplbp

Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah) is an archipelago of 104 islands 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. On 15 July 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah had 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 Langkawi Island with a population of some 64,792, the only other inhabited island being nearby Tuba Island. Langkawi is also an administrative district with the town of Kuah as largest town. Langkawi is a duty-free island.[1]


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Geography 3
  • Climate 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Politics 6
    • Federal parliament 6.1
    • State assembly seats 6.2
  • Economy 7
  • Tourism 8
    • Islands and beaches 8.1
    • Cable car and Sky Bridge 8.2
    • The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park (The Kilim River) 8.3
  • Transportation 9
  • Education 10
    • Secondary 10.1
    • Tertiary 10.2
  • Media 11
    • Television 11.1
    • FM Radio 11.2
    • Defunct Frequencies 11.3
  • See also 12
  • Image gallery 13
  • Sister cities 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16


Dataran Helang (Eagle Square)

The name Langkawi is thought to have existed by the early 15th century, although in the 16th century the island of Langkawi was also marked on maps variously as Langa, Langka, Lansura, and Langapura.[2]

There are many suggestions for the origin of the name of Langkawi. According to one interpretation, Langkawi means island of the reddish-brown eagle in colloquial Malay.[3] The Malay word for eagle is helang - which is shortened to "lang", while kawi is the name of a red stone used as a chalk to mark goods.[2] This interpretation was used to create the landmark sculpture of an eagle as the symbol of Langkawi at Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) in Kuah.[4][5]

It is however widely believed that Langkawi is also the same as the Lanka or Langkapuri mentioned in Indian sources.[6] The name is thought to be related to Langkasuka, an old kingdom thought by some to have links with Kedah, and puri means a castle with a moat or a palace.[7] Some also thought that Langkawi means "many beautiful islands", langka being a Sanskrit word meaning "beautiful" while wi means "many".[2]

In 2008, it was given the title of Langkawi Permata Kedah meaning "Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah" in 2008 by Kedah's Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah as part of his golden jubilee to impress upon tourists that Langkawi is part of Kedah.[8]


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.[9]

Mao Kun map from Wubei Zhi which is derived from the 15th century navigation maps of Zheng He showing Langkawi (龍牙交椅) next to Penang island (梹榔嶼)

The island of Langkawi was recorded in history by Chinese and other travellers. It was called Long-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 to Acehnese 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,[7] and Beaulieu was required to obtain a license from Kedah's heir apparent then in Perlis before the penghulu or chief of Langkawi would sell pepper to him.[10]

Langkawi was historically home to seafarers, such as the Orang Laut (sea people) originally from the southern part of the Malay peninsula, as well as pirates and fishermen. It had long been thought to be cursed - according to local legend, in the late 18th century, a Princess Mahsuri, who was wrongfully accused of adultery and put to death, placed a curse on the island that would last for seven generations.[11] Not long after the princess' 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] The island rapidly grew as a tourist destination, and by 2012, it had received over 3 million tourists a year.[17][18]


Map of Langkawi

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.[19]

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.[20]


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. August is the wettest month, when it normally receives more than 500 mm (20 in).

Langkawi average rainfall statistics can be found at Annual Mean Rainfall Locations In Malaysia 2014

Climate data for Langkawi Precipitation In 2014 (Mean Rainfall : 2002-2013)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average precipitation mm (inches) -
Average rainfall mm (inches) 18.3
Source: Malaysian Meteorological Department
Climate data for Langkawi Precipitation In 2013
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average precipitation mm (inches) 11.2
Source: Malaysian Meteorological Department
Principle Meteorological Station - Langkawi
Year Rainfall
2,326.6 mm (91.60 in)
2,577.8 mm (101.49 in)
2,398.2 mm (94.42 in)
2,801.4 mm (110.29 in)
2,343.3 mm (92.26 in)
2,643.8 mm (104.09 in)
2,960.6 mm (116.56 in)
2,697.6 mm (106.20 in)
1,822.7 mm (71.76 in)
3,166.7 mm (124.67 in)
2,135.6 mm (84.08 in)
Source Department Of Statistics Malaysia


Islam is practised primarily by ethnic Malays. Other major religions are Hinduism (mainly among Indians), Buddhism (mainly among Chinese and Thai) and Christianity (mostly Chinese).

Only four of the 99 islands are inhabited - Langkawi (the main island), Tuba, Rebak and Dayang Bunting. The population is approximately 99,000, around 65,000 of them in Langkawi, of which 90% are Malays.[21] The other ethnic groups consist mainly of Chinese, Indians and Thais.

Ethnic Group 2010[22]
Number %
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%
Total 94,777 100.00%


Federal parliament

Langkawi district representatives in the Federal Parliament of Malaysia (Dewan Rakyat):

State assembly seats

List of Langkawi district representatives in the State Legislative Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri)


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.[23]


Islands of Langkawi

On 1 June 2007, Langkawi Island was given a World Geopark status by UNESCO.[24] 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 issued a 'yellow card' warning threatening the status of the Geopark.[25]

Tourists can enter the island via ferry from Kuala Perlis and Penang, or by flight from Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia and Fireflyz provides budget connection to the island.

Islands and beaches

Sunset at Chenang Beach (Pantai Cenang)

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.

Cenang Beach sunny view

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.

The Langkawi Sky Bridge above the rainforest canopy

Cable car and Sky Bridge

The Langkawi Cable Car takes visitors up to the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang, where the Langkawi Sky Bridge is located. The Sky Bridge was closed in 2012 for maintenance and upgrading, but reopened in February 2015, although work on the bridge is still ongoing as of September 2015.

The start of cable car ride is located in the Oriental Village where there are a number of attractions, including a 3-Dimensional art museum known as Art in Paradise.[26]

The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park (The Kilim River)

This area actually consists of three river estuaries that stretch from the Kisap village approximately 10 km to Tanjung Rhu and they are all interconnected. They are rich in wildlife and tourists may see hairy nosed sea otters, brown winged kingfishers, monitor lizards and swimming macaque monkeys. Limestone, inherently porous, forms caves and there are several in the mangroves. One of Langkawi's natural beauty spots is the Pirate Lagoon just outside the river. Technically this is a collapsed cave (hong) consisting of a cave entrance from the sea emerging into a hidden lagoon with towering, limestone escarpments and smaller caves.


A Nissan Sylphy taxi in Langkawi.

The island of Langkawi can be reached by sea and air. The Langkawi Jetty Point connects the island to main destinations like Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah, Penang and Tamalang. There's also ferry service to Satun town and to Ko Lipe island in Thailand.[27] The Langkawi International Airport is one of 7 international airports in Malaysia and connects the island to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Penang and also Subang. On the island, a main road runs through the whole island.



  • SMK Ayer Hangat
  • SMK Kedawang
  • SMK Kelibang
  • SMK Langkawi Pulau Tuba
  • SMK Mahsuri
  • SMK Tunku Putra
  • SM Teknik Langkawi
  • Maktab Mahmud Langkawi
  • Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Langkawi (owned by MARA, a development agency of the government of Malaysia)


  • Kolej Komuniti Langkawi


The television and radio in Langkawi can be received from Mount Raya, Mount Jerai, Satun Province Thailand Yala Province Thailand Songkhla Province Thailand And Phatthalung Province Thailand


  • TV1 (Ch35; from Mount Raya)
  • TV2 (Ch39; from Mount Raya)
  • TV3 (Ch33; from Mount Raya)
  • NTV7 (Ch37; from Mount Jerai)
  • 8TV (Ch44; from Mount Jerai)
  • TV9 (Ch48; from Mount Jerai)
  • TV-AlHijrah (Ch32; from Alor Setar Tower)
  • ARMY-5 (Ch7; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • MCOT-9 (Ch9; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • MCOT-3 (Ch11; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • TPBS (Ch27; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • PRD-11 (Ch31; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • BBTV-7 (Ch51; from Satun Province Thailand)

FM Radio

  • ERA FM (90.70 MHz; 1 kW from Mount Raya)
  • MY FM (100.10 MHz; 1 kW from Mount Raya)
  • hitz fm (92.40 MHz;1 kW from Mount Raya)
  • Red FM (98.10 MHz; 10 kW from Mount Jerai)
  • Langkawi FM (104.80 MHz; 1 kW from Mount Raya)
  • Kedah FM (105.70 MHz; 1 kW from Mount Raya)
  • Radio Thailand Satun (95.50 MHz 2 kW ;from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Radio Thailand Satun (99.50 MHz 1 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • SINAR FM (100.90 MHz 1 kW ; from Mount Raya)
  • Ai FM (101.30 MHz 5 kW; from Mount Jerai)
  • Traxx FM (98.70 MHz 5 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • 94PFM We Love Satun (94.00 MHz 1 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Life FM 93.75 (93.75 MHz 1 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • MCOT Satun (93.25 MHz 2 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Minnal FM (96.70 MHz 5 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • One FM (87.80 MHz 2 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • HOT FM (88.20 MHz 2 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • 988 (96.10 MHz 10 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • MIX FM (91.00 MHz 2 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • LITE FM (104.40 MHz 2 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • MELODY FM (106.50 MHz 5 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • THR Raaga (101.90 MHz 1 kW; from Mount Raya)
  • IKIM.FM (89.00 MHz 1 kW ; from Lower Mount Jerai)
  • Easy FM (90.00 MHz 1 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Satun Radio (97.75 MHz 1 kW ; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Wave Radio Satun (98.50 MHz 1 kW; from Satun Province Thailand) Aug 2015
  • Radio Klasik (94.90 MHz 5 kW ; from Mount Jerai)
  • Nasional FM (100.50 MHz 5 kW; from Mount Jerai)
  • Green Radio (FM 89.50 MHz 1 kW; from Satun Province Thailand)
  • Radio Thailand Yala (FM 92.00 MHz 10 kW; From Yala Province Thailand)
  • Radio Thailand Songkhla (FM 90.50 MHz 10 kW; from Songkhla Province Thailand)
  • MCOT Songkhla (FM 96.50 MHz 2 kW ;from Songkhla Province Thailand)
  • Sunshine Radio Songkhla (FM 94.50 MHz 1 kW ; from Songkhla Province Thailand)
  • Royal Thai Air Force Songkhla (FM 107.00 MHz 5 kW ; from Songkhla Province Thailand
  • R Radio Network Satun (FM 105.00 MHz 1 kW From Satun Province Thailand)
  • MCOT Phatthalung (FM 95.75 MHz 2 kW ;From Phatthalung Province Thailand)
  • Tamruat Phuuthon Phaak Kao Satun (FM 91.75 MHz 1 kW ; From Satun Province Thailand)
  • Radio Parliament Thai (FM 103.25 MHz 5 kW From Hat Yai Songkhla Province Thailand )

Defunct Frequencies

  • Love Radio Satun FM 99.25 MHz inactive since Aug 2013 from Satun Province Thailand
  • Wave Radio Satun FM 98.40 MHz inactive since Jun 2014 then replaced frequency to FM 98.50 MHz From Satun Province Thailand
  • Red FM Malaysia (FM 103.20 MHz inactive since Feb 2001 From Mount Raya)

See also

Image gallery

Sister cities


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  23. ^ [1] Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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External links

  • Langkawi travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • - Langkawi - A jewel in the ocean
  • Official Langkawi Website
  • Tourism Malaysia - Langkawi

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