Pulo Penang Penang ("Areca island"), or Prince of Wales's Island, an island belonging to Great Britain, situated at the N. entrance of the strait of Malacca, extending from lat. 5° 14' to 5° 29' N., and from Ion. 100° 9' to 100° 25' E.; area, 107 sq. m.; pop. in 1865, 59,956. George Town is the capital. The channel dividing the island from the mainland is navigable for large vessels, and varies in breadth from 2 to 7 m., the harbor of George Town being the 1ST. part of it. The form of Penang is very irregular, and the coasts are hold and indented by several hays. There are many small streams. The surface is uneven, and intersected by a mountain range, the highest point of which, West hill, is about 2,600 ft. above the sea. The whole of the island where not cultivated is densely wooded. Tin ore is said to be abundant in the mountains. Rice is grown in great quantities, and tapioca for the American market. Cocoanut planting is largely carried on, and many other tropical fruits and vegetables are grown; and the forests yield valuable teak and other timber.
The original inhabitants were a few Malays; but since the British occupied the island, people from Hindostan, Burmah, Siam, China, and all the neighboring islands have settled upon it, nearly one third of the whole being Chinese. - The island of Penang formerly belonged to the king of Queda in Malacca, but was given by him in 1785 as a marriage portion with his daughter, who married Capt. Light, the master of a British ship trading in the straits. The English East India company acquired possession of it by purchase from Light in 1786, and appointed him governor; and afterward, in consideration of an annual income paid to the king, the sovereignty of the island and the opposite coast was ceded to them. (See Straits Settlement).