A British Territory, one of the Straits Settlements, on the W. side of the Malay peninsula, between hit. 2° and 2° 30' N extending 42 m. along the coast, and varying in breadth inland from 14 to 24 m.; area, 658 sq. in.; pop. in 1870 (estimated), 67,267, of whom 2,648 were white. The territory lies in an irregular triangle, the S. E. boundary or base of which is formed by the Cassang river, which rises near a remarkable conical hill named Mt. Ophir, about 50 m. E. of the capital. In the interior the country is arranged in a series of undulating hills and valleys, generally lying-parallel to the seacoast. There are no great ranges of hills, but a large number of detached elevations are found, varying in height from 100 to 1,000 ft. Mt. Ophir, called by the natives Ledang, is the only considerable elevation; it rises to the height of about 5,000 ft. above the level of the sea. The general formation of these hills and of the territory is granitic, with a covering of laterite, or red clay ironstone. The coast line may be divided into three portions of distinct character. The N. W. portion, from Lingie river to Tanjong Kling, 17 m., shows a bold wooded elevation reaching to the sea. Behind this coast plateau the series of hill and valley commences immediately.
The central portion, or from Tanjong Kling to the town of Malacca, 5 m., is a sandy beach, with ferruginous rocks, appearing in points jutting into the sea. The third part, 21 m., is a mud flat, exposed for a great distance at low water; and the inner portion is covered with mangrove jungle. Inland from the two latter portions, an immense alluvial plain, with detached hills, extends considerably beyond the inner boundary of the territory. The district is watered by five navigable rivers, of which the Lingie is navigable for vessels of 200 tons as far as Simpang, a distance of 8. m. Numerous smaller streams fall into the sea. The soil of the low lands is a rich alluvium, varying in color from light brown to red. The territory is capable of producing in perfection almost every article of intertropical culture, and of late years the forests have been cleared away to a considerable extent, and agriculture is on the increase. It enjoys the equable temperature and salubrious climate of the Malay archipelago, to which it geologically and eth-nologically belongs. The greatest recorded range of the thermometer is from 68° to 86°. - Tigers, leopards, black panthers, and other ferocious animals abound.
Among the other animals are monkeys of various species, the elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, wild ox, tapir, several species of deer, the antelope, and musk deer. The chief crops are rice, the cocoa-nut, and tapioca. Nutmeg plants have been brought from the Moluccas, and cultivated with moderate success. Cinnamon, of superior quality to that of Ceylon, is cultivated for exportation. Cotton, chocolate, sugar cane, indigo, and a great variety of fine fruits are raised. Among the exports are tin, known in commerce as "straits tin," ebony, ivory, rattans, lac, eagle wood, hides, hogs, and fowls. Gold is washed from the sands of all the streams in fine dust. The trade is chiefly with the neighboring British settlements, Penang and Singapore. The annual exports amount to about $2,000,000, and the imports to about $2,250,000. (See Malay Peninsula, and Straits Settlements).
A City, capital of the territory, situated near the mouth of a small river which falls into the straits of Malacca, in lat. 2° 14' N., Ion. 102° 12' E.; pop. about 15,000. It was the chief emporium of oriental commerce before Europeans visited the Indian seas. The Arabs, Persians, and Hindoos resorted to its port to procure the spices, gums, and other precious products of the Malay archipelago, which they afterward distributed throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe. It owed its commercial distinction to the freedom of its roadstead from hurricanes or the influence of the monsoons, and to its advantageous situation in the straits of Malacca, the great highway of eastern commerce. It is a free port; but its trade has long ceased to be of any relative importance, and is almost entirely confined to the neighboring settlements. The harbor is too shallow to admit large vessels. When first visited by the Portuguese, it contained about 35,000 dwellings, and, according to the lowest computation made at the time, 150,000 inhabitants. It was besieged and taken by Albuquerque in 1511. The victor captured more than 3,000 pieces of brass and iron cannon, mounted upon the walls of the city, which were said to be superior to any of Portuguese fabrication of that period.
The Portuguese held possession of the city for 130 years, and during that period it underwent 19 sieges, 8 of which were undertaken by the Malays, chiefly of the state of Acheen, and the rest by the Dutch, who captured the place after nine months' siege and blockade in 1641. The Dutch held the city for 154 years, surrendering to a British besieging force in 1795. In 1818 it was restored to the Dutch government; but it again reverted to the British in 1824, in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra. There are many notable ruins of fortifications constructed by the ancient Malay kings, and many of their tombs; also ruins of monasteries, churches, and fortifications constructed by Albuquerque, including those of the monastery of Madre de Dios, on a hill in the rear of the town, which contained the remains of St. Francis Xavier till they were transferred to Goa.