History

Kuala Lumpur is one of the youngest capitals in the South East Asia. The city was founded a little more than one and a half centuries ago, after a group of 87 Chinese prospectors who, in their search for tin, landed on the marshy lands near to the confluence of Klang and Gombak rivers in 1857. Having built shaky huts from the available materials, they founded a settlement there. In accordance with its location, it was named Kuala Lumpur, which means ‘muddy estuary’ in Malay.

Despite the fact that the majority of the pioneers died within the first month - mainly due to malaria and other tropical illnesses - new groups of tin seekers were not deterred, and arrived there in endless streams from the neighboring countries, predominantly China and India. The miners' settlement grew rapidly and soon became a thriving village, where later, due to the high prices of tin, a rich city would take root. It should be noted hat coffee and rubber plantations contributed to this economic growth as well. At the same time, the national composition of Kuala Lumpur began to form out of three main groups: the Chinese, who were engaged in tin mining and trade; the Malays, who were engaged mainly in agriculture, and the Indians, who worked on the railways and on the plantations.

The most prosperous period for the future capital of Malaysia was interrupted by the country's Civil War, during which local sultans recklessly fought for the throne. Located in the epicenter of this fight, Kuala Lumpur was almost completely burned down in 1881, before the inner conflict was stopped by intervention of the British Empire, who controlled the Malay lands at that time. The colonialists engaged in the reconstruction of the destroyed city, and built new and more reliable stone houses within a strikingly short period of time. This meant that by the end of the 19th century, Kuala Lumpur had become a typical British colonial city, becoming one of the most important industrial and trade centers on the Malay Peninsula. In 1896, it was announced the capital of the newly formed Federation of Malay States.

Almost fifty years later, Kuala Lumpur’s prosperity was undermined again, this time by the World War II, when British colonial authorities retreated under pressure from the Japanese army. After the end of the war, the British would return to the city, but not for long: in 1957, they would depart Malay territory for good, as Malaysia announced its independence. Since then, Kuala Lumpur has been in a new stage of its development. The only event that overshadowed its development since that time was a large-scale riot - caused by extreme racial tensions - which flared up in 1969: hundreds of the capital’s residents were killed and wounded during the three-day unrest.

In 1974, Kuala Lumpur acquired the status of a federal territory, and in fact the whole of the late 20th century was a period of active development and growth for the city. A series of ambitious political, economic, and social reforms were implemented by the government and resulted in Malaysia turning into a developed industrial country, while its capital became one of the most affluent, beautiful and attractive cities in the whole of South East Asia. From a dirty mining village to a thriving modern city and economic locomotive of the whole region in just a hundred or so years, Kuala Lumpur is well worthy of the awe in which it is held.

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