Malac'ca, or Malay Peninsula, anciently the Golden Chersonese, the long strip of land extending from Indo-China S. and SE. towards Sumatra. The peninsula begins at the head of the Gulf of Siam, and thus includes part of Siam proper and Tenasserim in Burma; but it is usual to limit the name to the portion south of the river Pakshan, the frontier of Tenasserim. In the larger sense Malacca extends from 13° 30' to 1° 16' N. lat., and its area is 75,000 sq. m., of which 40,000 belong to Siam, and the remainder to the Straits Settlements and their dependencies, the protected states. The width varies from 44 miles at the isthmus of Kra to 210 at Perak. The interior consists mainly of magnificently-wooded mountain-ranges, disposed parallel to the long axis of the peninsula (Mount Riam is 8000 feet high), while along the coast there are mangrove swamps, half-a-dozen miles deep, backed by low fertile plains reaching to the mountains. A double belt of islands runs along parts of both coasts. The peninsula is the richest tin-yielding region in the world. The tin ore occurs in conjunction with gold and silver; iron and coal exist, the former in great quantity. The climate is pretty uniform all the year round. The low districts are hot and moist, and neither they nor the highlands arehealthy for Europeans. Rain falls on 190 days in the year. Pop. 1,200,000 - 800,000 in British territory and dependencies. They are mainly Siamese in the north, civilised Malays along the coast and in the south, and uncivilised Malays, mixed with aboriginal Negrito tribes, in the interior. The crops chiefly cultivated are rice, sugar-cane, cotton, tobacco, yams, batata, and cocoa and areca nuts. Politically, Siam extends as far south as 5° 30' on the west coast, and to 4° on the east coast. The southern portion embraces the British settlements Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, all treated in separate articles, and the protected states (Johore, Perak, &c). See Miss Bird's Golden Chersonese (1883), and Keane's Malay Peninsula (1887).
The Strait of Malacca separates the Malay Peninsula on the north-east from the island of Sumatra on the south-west, and connects the Indian Ocean with the Chinese Sea. It is 480 miles long, and from 30 to 115 broad.
Malacca, one of the British Straits Settlements, on the SW. coast of the Malay Peninsula, 100 miles from Singapore. It is 42 miles in length, and from 8 to 25 broad. Area, 659 sq. m.; population,100,000. The coast-lands are flat and swampy ; inland there are low hills. Besides rice, the chief products are tapioca, pepper, fruits, etc. Tin is mined. The mean annual rainfall varies from 68 to 91 inches. The town of Malacca (the capital), at the mouth of a small river, has a Eop. of 20,000, and contains the church of Our Lady del Monte, the scene of the labours of St Francis Xavier. Malacca was taken by the Portuguese in 1511; became a Dutch possession in 1641, and fell in 1795 into the hands of the British, who restored it to the Dutch in 1818; but they returned it to Britain in 1824.