🇲🇾 George Town is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang. George Town is Malaysia's third most populous city, while Greater Penang is the nation's second largest conurbation in the country. The historical core of George Town has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Located next to the Straits of Malacca, George Town was established as an entrepôt by Francis Light of the East India Company in 1786, as the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. It grew rapidly in the early-19 century. With the influx of immigrants from various regions in Asia, George Town's population surpassed 10,000 by the turn of the 19th century and quadrupled within 40 years. In 1826, Penang was incorporated into the Straits Settlements, along with British Singapore and Malacca, with George Town as the territories' administrative capital until 1836. The territories became a British crown colony in 1867. During the Second World War, George Town was subjugated by the Empire of Japan, before being recaptured by the British at war's end. Shortly before Malaya attained independence from the British in 1957, George Town was declared a city by Queen Elizabeth II, making it the first city in the country's modern history. In 1974, the Malaysian federal government revoked George Town's city status after the abolishment of local governments, a position that would not be altered until 2015, when its jurisdiction was reinstated and expanded to cover the entirety of Penang Island.
The port city was historically a regional centre of administration, politics, and finance. During the Napoleonic Wars, George Town was a military outpost, and later spawned the early ground-works of the Malaysian judiciary, and the Royal Malaysian Police. Its municipal council was the first elected local government in Malayan history. Despite losing its prominence to Singapore in trade by the mid-19th century, it remained as a major export hub of spices, agricultural goods, and later tin, achieving immense prosperity throughout the 19th-century. Such successes made George Town the financial centre of Malaya, home to several regional and international banks of the early-20th century, notably Standard Chartered, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Netherlands Trading Society, and Ban Hin Lee Bank. George Town also functioned as the headquarters for revolutionary activities by the Tongmenghui in Southeast Asia that eventually launched the Wuchang Uprising, a precursor towards the Xinhai Revolution in Qing China.
In the modern era, George Town is an important hub of arts, culture, manufacturing, transportation, education, healthcare, and media in Malaysia. It is still the financial centre of northern Peninsular Malaysia, and since the 1970s, the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, a high-tech manufacturing hub regarded as the "Silicon Valley of the East", became the centre of the Malaysian electronics manufacturing industry. George Town also serves as the country's primary medical tourism hub. The Penang International Airport links George Town with several major regional cities, while a ferry service, the Penang Bridge and the Second Penang Bridge connect the city with the rest of Peninsular Malaysia. Meanwhile, George Town's Swettenham Pier has emerged as the busiest port of call in Malaysia for cruise ships. George Town is also the birthplace of Malaysian print media; The Prince of Wales Island Gazette, one of Southeast Asia's oldest newspapers, was first published in George Town in 1805. Stemming from the centuries of intermingling of the various ethnicities and religions that arrived on its shores, George Town acquired its own unique architectural styles and cuisine. It has also gained a reputation as modern Malaysia's gastronomical capital for its distinct and ubiquitous street food. The preservation of these cultures contributed to the city centre's inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
History: Establishment In the 1770s, the British East India Company instructed Francis Light, a British Royal Navy captain, to form trade relations in the Malay Peninsula. Light subsequently landed in Kedah, a Siamese vassal state threatened by both Siam and Burma, as well as an internal Bugis revolt. Aware of this situation, Light formed friendly relations with the then Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II, and promised British military protection, while the Sultan reciprocally offered Penang Island, then part of Kedah.
Although Light subsequently reported on this offer to his superiors, it was only in 1786 when he was finally ordered to obtain Penang Island from Kedah. The British East India Company sought control of the island as a Royal Navy base, and as a trading post between China and India. To that end, Light negotiated with the new Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah, regarding the cession of the island to the British East India Company in exchange for British military aid. After an agreement was signed between Light and the Sultan, Light and his entourage sailed on to Penang Island, where they arrived on 17 July 1786.
The area where Light first landed, which is now the Esplanade, was originally a swamp covered in thick jungle. Once the area was cleared, a simple ceremony was held on 11 August, during which the Union Jack was raised. Penang Island was renamed the Prince of Wales Island after the heir to the British throne, while the new settlement was given the name George Town.
Light developed George Town as a free port, thus allowing merchants to trade without having to pay any form of tax or duties. The policy's intent was to entice traders from the Dutch ports in the region. The number of incoming vessels rose from 85 in 1786 to 3,569 in 1802; George Town's population had also increased to 10,000 by 1792.
A committee of assessors was established in 1800, making it the first local council to be established in British Malaya. Meanwhile, a Supreme Court was established at Fort Cornwallis in 1808.
Colonial era In the early 19th century, Penang Island became a centre of spice production within Southeast Asia. Spices such as nutmeg, clove and pepper, produced from the spice farms throughout the island, were exported via the Port of Penang in George Town. The spice trade also allowed the British East India Company to cover the administrative costs of Penang.
In 1826, George Town was made the capital of the Straits Settlements, an administrative polity that was also composed of Singapore and Malacca. However, the capital was then shifted to Singapore in 1832, as the latter had usurped George Town's position as the region's preeminent harbour.
Nonetheless, George Town retained its importance as a vital British entrepôt. Due to the opening of the Suez Canal, the advent of steam ships and a tin mining boom in the Malay Peninsula, the Port of Penang became a major tin-exporting harbour. By the end of the 19th century, as mercantile firms and banks, including Standard Chartered and HSBC, flocked into George Town, the city also evolved into a leading financial centre in Malaya.
Throughout the century, George Town's population grew rapidly in tandem with the city's economic prosperity. A cosmopolitan, multi-cultural population emerged, comprising Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan, Eurasian, Thai and other ethnicities. However, the population growth also created social problems, such as inadequate sanitation and public health facilities, as well as rampant crime. The latter culminated in the Penang Riots of 1867, during which rival Chinese triads clashed in the streets of George Town.
Also in the same year, the Straits Settlements was made a British crown colony, to be governed directly by the Colonial Office in London. For George Town, direct British rule meant better law enforcement, as the police force was vastly improved and the secret societies that had previously plagued the city were gradually outlawed. More investments were also made on the city's health care and public transportation.
With improved access to education, a greater level of participation in municipal affairs by its Asian residents and substantial press freedom, George Town was perceived as being more intellectually receptive than Singapore. The city became a magnet for well known English authors, Asian intellectuals and revolutionaries, including Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Sun Yat-sen.
World Wars At the start of World War I in 1914, the Battle of Penang occurred, during which SMS Emden, an Imperial German Navy cruiser, sank two Allied warships off the coast of George Town. 147 French and Russian sailors were killed.
World War II, on the other hand, brought unparalleled social and political upheaval to Penang. In early December 1941, Japanese warplanes indiscriminately strafed and bombed George Town, and wiped out the defending Allied air squadrons. While the British Army had earlier designated Penang Island as a fortress, Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival then ordered a withdrawal from Penang. Not only did the British abandon the Batu Maung Fort south of the city, they also covertly evacuated Penang's European population, leaving the rest of the populace to their fates. Some historians have argued that the withdrawal and the silent evacuation of the European population led to the loss of the British sense of invincibility, and that the collapse of British rule in Southeast Asia came not in Singapore, but in Penang.
George Town fell to the Imperial Japanese Army on 19 December 1941, marking the start of a brutal period of Japanese occupation. Penang Island was renamed Tojo-to, after the then Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. This period was known for the Imperial Japanese Army's massacres of Penang's Chinese populace, known as Sook Ching to the locals. Women in George Town were also coerced to work as comfort women by the Japanese.
George Town's harbour facilities were also put to use as a major U-boat base by Nazi Germany. Between 1942 and 1944, the Port of Penang was utilised by submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Kriegsmarine and the Regia Marina.
Between 1944 and 1945, Allied bombers based in India repeatedly bombed George Town, seeking to destroy the naval facilities and administrative centres. Several colonial buildings were destroyed or damaged, including the Government Offices, St. Xavier's Institution, Hutchings School (now Penang State Museum) and the Penang Secretariat Building. The Penang Strait was also mined to impede Japanese shipping.
Following the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, the Penang Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, published the proclamation of surrender issued by the Emperor of Japan. Under Operation Jurist, the British Royal Marines accepted the surrender of the Japanese garrison in Penang and retook Penang Island on 3 September 1945.
Post-war After a period of military administration, the British dissolved the Straits Settlements in 1946 and proceeded to merge the Crown Colony of Penang into the Malayan Union, which was then replaced with the Federation of Malaya in 1948. However, the absorption of the British colony of Penang into Malaya alarmed Penang's population over economic and ethnic concerns. Between 1948 and 1951, the Penang Secessionist Committee was formed to avert Penang's merger with Malaya, but ultimately petered out due to British disapproval.
The British government responded to the concerns raised by the secessionists by guaranteeing George Town's free port status, as well as reintroducing municipal elections in George Town in 1951. By 1956, George Town had become the first municipality in the Malayan Federation to have a fully elected local council.
On 1 January 1957, George Town was accorded city status by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first city within the Federation of Malaya, and by extension, Malaysia.
Post-independence In the following years, George Town retained its free port status, as guaranteed by the British colonial authorities before granting independence to Malaya. This was not to last, however – in 1969, the Malaysian federal government revoked George Town's free port status, sparking massive unemployment in the city.
This also marked the start of George Town's decline, which lasted up to the early 2000s. As the Malaysian federal government continued to develop Kuala Lumpur and nearby Port Klang, Penang began to suffer considerable brain drain.
In a bid to revitalise George Town, the Komtar project was launched in 1974. Hundreds of shophouses, schools and temples, as well as whole streets, were demolished in order to make way for the construction of Penang's tallest skyscraper. However, instead of arresting George Town's decline, Komtar itself became a white elephant by the 2000s.
In 1974, the George Town City Council was merged with the Penang Island Rural District Council to form the Penang Island Municipal Council, sparking a decades-long debate over George Town's city status.
Renaissance The city's decline continued into the early 2000s. In 2001, the Rent Control Act, which had protected the low-income residents and smaller businesses within the city centre from arbitrary rental hikes, was repealed. Consequently, residents moved out of the city's historical core, leaving its colonial-era buildings in disrepair. Meanwhile, an incoherent urban planning policy and poor traffic management led to worsening traffic congestion, while decades of brain drain also took its toll as the city lacked the expertise to regulate urban development.
In response, George Town's non-governmental organisations and the national press galvanised public support and formed strategic partnerships for the conservation of the historic buildings, and to restore the city to its former glory. As a result of the widespread resentment over George Town's decline, the then federal opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan), was voted into power within Penang in the 2008 State Election.
Also in 2008, George Town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Subsequent efforts to clean up the city, and measures to improve traffic flow, cultural and environmental aspects by the new state government led to George Town being ranked Asia's 8th most liveable city by ECA International in 2010. The city's services sector has since been boosted by the private sector and an influx of foreign investors.
The Indian Ocean tsunami which struck in 2004 hit the western and northern coasts of Penang Island, including George Town, claiming 52 lives (out of 68 in Malaysia).
Whilst George Town had been declared a city by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957, the jurisdiction of the city was expanded by the Malaysian federal government to encompass the entirety of Penang Island in 2015.
Geography The jurisdiction of George Town covers an area of 305.77 km² (118.06 sq mi), encompassing the entirety of Penang Island and five of the surrounding islets, including Jerejak Island. George Town is only slightly more than a third the size of Singapore with a population density of 2,372/km2 (6,140/sq mi); thus the city has one of the highest population densities of all Malaysian cities.
The contiguous hotel and resort belts of Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong along the northern beaches of Penang Island form the north-western fringes of George Town. The central hills of Penang Island, including Penang Hill, serve as a giant green lung for George Town and an important forested catchment area. While the central hills have somewhat limited the westward urban sprawl, George Town's expansion is more evident southward along the eastern seaboard of Penang Island, creating the suburbs of Jelutong and Gelugor, the latter merging with the northward development of Bayan Lepas.
As with most island cities, land scarcity is a pressing issue in George Town. Land reclamation projects have been carried out to provide more low-lying land at high-demand areas, such as at Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong and Jelutong.
UNESCO World Heritage Site The oldest portion of the city centre has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2008. Recognised as having a "unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia", George Town contains one of the largest collections of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia.
The World Heritage Site covers nearly 260 ha (2.6 km²) of the city centre, roughly bounded by Transfer Road to the west and Prangin Road to the south. The zone includes the city's administrative precinct, which is home to the most historic landmarks like Fort Cornwallis, City Hall and the Penang State Museum, as well as the main Central Business District along Beach Street. The zone also covers various places of worship, such as St. George's Church, the Kapitan Keling Mosque and the Goddess of Mercy Temple, as well as the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
Among the restrictions in force within the zone is a ban on the construction of any structure exceeding 18 m (59 ft) in height, and that any new building which is located adjacent to a historically important structure must not exceed the height of the latter.
Street names Unlike other cities in Malaysia, George Town still retains most of its English street names. Even for roads that have been renamed in Malay, such as Jalan Masjid Negeri, Penangites in general still prefer to use the road's former colonial name, which in this particular case is Green Lane. This is partly because the new names are often unwieldy (e.g. Pitt Street vs Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Northam Road vs Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah), but also reflects a strong conservatism in the local population, who see Penang's colonial history as part of their local identity.
Since 2008, multi-lingual road signs have been in use throughout Penang Island. Each of the new road signs shows the street's official Malay name and either the street's English, Chinese, Tamil or Arabic name.
Suburbs The expansion of George Town has created suburbs to its north-west, west and south. The north-western suburbs are somewhat more affluent, given their seafront locations which attract tourists and expatriates. The southern suburbs, such as Jelutong, grew due to industrial activities. On the other hand, Air Itam and Paya Terubong emerged to the west of George Town as a result of agricultural plantations on the central hills of Penang Island.
Since the 1970s, massive industrialisation around Bayan Lepas, which created the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, led to the rapid urbanisation of the south-eastern corner of Penang Island as well. The western half of the island, where Balik Pulau forms the main population centre, remains sparsely-populated, although urbanisation has encroached into the area in recent years.
Beaches and seafronts The most popular beaches of George Town are situated along the city's north-western suburbs, specifically Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong. Several hotels and resorts have been established along these locations, including Hard Rock Hotel. Aside from these, George Town is home to popular promenades such as Gurney Drive, the Esplanade and Karpal Singh Drive. In particular, Gurney Drive forms part of the city's second Central Business District, and is a shopping haven with two upmarket shopping malls – Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon. Land reclamation is currently ongoing off Gurney Drive in a state-led effort to create a seafront public park, named Gurney Wharf.
Hills The central hills of Penang Island, situated to the west of George Town, serve as a gigantic green lung and water catchment area for the urbanised island. Rising 833 m (2,733 ft) above sea level, the peak of Penang Hill is accessible via the Penang Hill Railway from its base station off Hill Railway Road. Once a retreat used by British officials and Queen Elizabeth II, Penang Hill is one of Penang's most well-known tourist attractions.
Parks Founded in 1884 as an offshoot of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Penang Botanic Gardens is Malaysia's oldest botanical garden. Today, it serves as a major recreational area, receiving about 5,000 visitors every weekend. This botanical garden also encompasses Penang's biggest waterfall, which forms part of George Town's water supply. Meanwhile, the nearby 172-acre (70 ha) City Park was officially opened in 1972.
The city is also home to the world's smallest national park – the Penang National Park. Covering 2,562 ha (25.62 km²) of the north-western tip of Penang Island, it contains mangrove swamps, rainforest interspersed with hiking trails and tranquil beaches. Other notable natural attractions nearby include the Tropical Spice Garden and the Entopia Butterfly Farm, the latter of which was Malaysia's first butterfly sanctuary.
Economy As the capital city of Penang, one of the most urbanised states in Malaysia, George Town is one of the top contributors of Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and tax income. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the city contributed US$12,044, or nearly 8%, of Malaysia's personal disposable income in 2015, second only to Kuala Lumpur. In 2016, George Town was ranked Malaysia's most attractive destination for commercial property investment by Knight Frank, surpassing even Kuala Lumpur. By 2017, Penang's GDP per capita, already the highest among Malaysian states, rose to RM49,873, thereby surpassing the World Bank's threshold to be considered a high-income economy. George Town's popularity amongst foreign investors has contributed to Penang gaining the largest share of Malaysia's foreign direct investments within the same year.
Originally established as an entrepôt by the British, George Town's economy is now dominated by other tertiary sub-sectors ranging from manufacturing to finance, whilst newer industries, including entrepreneurial startups, are taking root within the city as well. In addition, George Town serves as the economic pole of northern Malaysia, with relatively wide logistical connectivity. The Penang International Airport is one of the nation's busiest, whilst Swettenham Pier has cemented the city's reputation as a popular destination for cruise shipping.
Manufacturing Since the 1970s, manufacturing formed the backbone of Penang's economy, generating 44.8% of the state's GDP as of 2017 and attracting about 3,000 firms to set up operations within the state. The Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, dubbed the Silicon Valley of the East, is the main electronics manufacturing hub within Malaysia. Located at the south-eastern corner of Penang Island, the zone is home to various high-tech multinational firms, including Dell, Intel, AMD, Motorola, Agilent, Renesas, Osram, Bosch, Sony and Seagate.
Finance George Town was the centre of banking in Malaysia at a time when Kuala Lumpur was still a small outpost. The oldest bank in Malaysia, Standard Chartered, opened its main branch in George Town in 1875 to cater to the financial requirements of early European traders. This was followed by HSBC in 1885 and the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1888.
Today, George Town remains the banking hub of northern Malaysia, with branches of major international banks such as Standard Chartered, HSBC, Citibank, UOB, OCBC, Bank of China and Bank Negara Malaysia (Malaysian central bank). Most of the foreign banks still maintain their Penang headquarters at Beach Street, which serves as the city's main Central Business District.
Since the 1990s, Northam Road, along with Gurney Drive, has evolved into George Town's second Central Business District. Northam Road is now home to a cluster of financial services, with a number of accounting, auditing and insurance firms based along this coastal road. In addition to these, the Employees Provident Fund, run by the Malaysian federal government, operates an office at the road as well.
The financial sector and its related industries, such as insurance, auditing and real estate transactions, accounted for over 8% of Penang's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of 2017.
Tourist Industry George Town has always been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia. Throughout history, the city has even welcomed some of the most influential personalities, including Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Noël Coward, Lee Kuan Yew and Queen Elizabeth II.
In recent years, George Town has received numerous international accolades, further putting the city on the world stage. The city has been listed by various publications, including the Lonely Planet, Forbes and Time, as one of the top travel destinations in Asia. These are in addition to George Town's reputation as a gastronomic haven, with the CNN placing the city as one of Asia's best street food cities.
Unlike most other Malaysian cities, George Town does not rely only on air transportation for tourist arrivals. Aside from the Penang International Airport, Swettenham Pier, conveniently located within the city centre, also serves as one of the major tourist entry points into Penang. As of 2017, Penang attracted almost 8.6 million tourists, with the airport posting a record 7.2 million passenger arrivals and the pier registering another 1.35 million tourist arrivals. Within the same year, Penang became the third largest contributor of Malaysia's tourism tax revenue after Kuala Lumpur and Sabah.
The state government launched its ten-year Penang Tourism Master Plan in February 2019 with the goal of ensuring sustainable development and making Penang a hub for tourism, heritage, culture and arts in the region. George Town World Heritage Incorporated – the state government's independent heritage agency responsible for managing the George Town World Heritage Site – has produced a Sustainable Tourism Strategy action plan.
Services With nearly 3⁄5 of Penang's workforce employed in services-related fields, the services sector has marginally overtaken manufacturing as Penang's biggest economic sector, contributing 49.3% of Penang's total GDP in 2017. The largest share of employment was recorded in the retail, accommodation, and food and beverages (F&B) sub-sectors, clearly depicting the influence of tourist arrivals on service-related industries. Since the inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an emerging trend is the acquisition of heritage shophouses within the zone by foreign investors, especially from Singapore and Hong Kong.
In addition, a startup community has been growing in the city, which include the likes of Piktochart and DeliverEat. Attracted by the city's cheaper living costs and the presence of several multinational technology firms in Penang, the city's startups are also being actively encouraged by the Penang state government and the private sector, with initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship and promote the Internet of Things (IoT).
This services sector has also been boosted by firms seeking to establish shared services outsourcing (SSO) operations within or around George Town, including AirAsia, Citigroup, Dell, Jabil and Temasek Holdings. Consequently, Penang has emerged as the second most important Global Business Services (GBS) hub within Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpur.
Medical tourism An integral part of Penang's services sector is medical tourism, which has made George Town the medical tourism hub of Malaysia. The city has attracted approximately half of Malaysia's medical tourist arrivals in 2013 and generated about 70% of the nation's medical tourism revenue. About 1,000 patients arrive in George Town daily, mostly from Asian countries such as Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.
The success of George Town's medical tourism industry is mainly due to the specialised medical treatments offered at more affordable costs by the city's numerous private hospitals, coupled with well-trained professionals and advanced equipment. Indirect factors that were cited include the relatively low cost of living and the ease of travel facilitated by the well-developed logistical infrastructure.
Economy: Retail As many as 24% of Penang's workforce are employed in the retail sub-sector, the largest of all economic sub-sectors in Penang. Due to the numerous shopping malls and hypermarkets in George Town, the city is the main shopping hub of northern Malaysia. Since 2001, shopping complexes in George Town registered the biggest increases in Malaysia. Among the more well-known shopping malls within the city are Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon, 1st Avenue and Queensbay Mall.
While shopping malls now dominate the retail scene in George Town, many centuries-old shophouses are still operating alongside the city's flea markets and wet markets, such as Chowrasta Market. These traditional retail establishments cater more to locally made products, including spices, nutmegs and tau sar pneah, a famous Penang delicacy.
Museums The Penang State Museum and Art Gallery houses relics, photographs, maps, and other artifacts that document the history and culture of Penang. Other museums within the city focus on religious and cultural aspects, as well as famous personalities, including the Penang Islamic Museum, Sun Yat-sen Museum, P. Ramlee's House, Batik Painting Museum, and Universiti Sains Malaysia Museum and Gallery.
In recent years, private-run museums have sprung up all over the city, such as the Camera Museum and the Penang Toy Museum. A handful of newer visual museums have also been launched, such as the Made-in-Penang Interactive Museum and the Penang Time Tunnel.
Festivals George Town's cultural melting pot of various races and religions means that there are a great many celebrations and festivities in any given year. The major cultural and religious festivities in George Town include, but not limited to, the Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Meh, Songkran, Wesak Day, Seventh Month Festival, Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Eid ul-Fitri, Deepavali, Thaipusam, Vaisakhi and Christmas.
The city's expatriates have introduced a host of other celebrations as well. Bon Odori is celebrated yearly at the Esplanade by the Japanese, while St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest, traditionally celebrated by the Irish and the Germans respectively, have also been gaining popularity amongst the locals.
In addition, the city hosts several major festivals in any given year. The George Town Festival, first held in 2010, has evolved into one of the top arts events in Southeast Asia, while the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta attracts close to 200,000 visitors from all over the world.
Sport George Town has a relatively well-developed sporting infrastructure. The City Stadium is Penang Island's main football stadium, with a capacity of about 25,000. It is the home ground of Penang FA, and was where Penang footballer Mohd Faiz Subri scored the goal that won him the 2016 FIFA Puskás Award. The SPICE Arena at Bayan Baru consists of an indoor stadium, an aquatics centre and a convention centre, while the Nicol David International Squash Centre at Gelugor is a major squash training facility. In addition, the Penang Turf Club, established in 1864, is Malaysia's oldest horse racing and equestrian centre.
The Penang Bridge International Marathon is a popular annual event. The full marathon route starts from near Queensbay Mall, then on to the 13.5 km (8.4 mi) length of the Penang Bridge, and finally back to the starting point for the finish.
The national and international sporting events that were held in George Town include the 2001 Southeast Asian Games and the 2013 Women's World Open Squash Championship. In addition, George Town will host the Asia Pacific Masters Games in 2018, the first Malaysian city to be selected to host this regional multi-sports tournament.
Tertiary education Universiti Sains Malaysia, situated at Gelugor, is one of the premier Malaysian public universities. Established in 1969 as Malaysia's second university, it was originally named Universiti Pulau Pinang (University of Penang). As of 2018, it was ranked 207th in the QS World University Rankings, the fourth highest in Malaysia.
Several private universities and colleges have also been set up across George Town, including Wawasan Open University, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin Malaysia Campus, Han Chiang University College of Communication, DISTED College, SEGi College, Sentral College, Lam Wah Ee Nursing College, Adventist College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Equator Academy of Arts and KDU University College.
Libraries George Town contains a total of 30 libraries. Among the libraries in the city are the Penang State Library at Scotland Road and the Penang Digital Library at Green Lane. The latter, which was opened by the Penang state government in 2016, is Malaysia's first digital library and houses a digitalised collection of over 3,000 publications.
Health care The numerous public and private hospitals in George Town has helped the city to emerge as the centre of medical tourism in Malaysia. The Penang General Hospital, administered and funded by the Ministry of Health, is the main public hospital in George Town and serves as the tertiary referral hospital within northern Malaysia. It is complemented by the Balik Pulau Hospital, which is also managed by the country's Ministry of Health.
There are also 54 government-run clinics throughout George Town, supported by 11 private hospitals and 352 private clinics. The private hospitals within George Town include Penang Adventist Hospital, Island Hospital, Gleneagles Medical Centre, Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre, Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Pantai Hospital.
George Town became the first Malaysian city to install public automated external defibrillators (AEDs), with the launch of the first device in Komtar in 2015. Since then, AEDs have been installed at several public locations throughout the city.
Media: Print George Town was once the centre of Malaysia's print media. The country's first newspaper – the Prince of Wales Island Gazette – was established in the city in 1806. One of Malaysia's top dailies currently in circulation, The Star, was founded in George Town in the 1970s, while the country's oldest Chinese newspaper, Kwong Wah Yit Poh, was also founded in the city in 1910.
In 2011, the then Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, officiated the launch of the Penang edition of Time Out. This version of the international listings magazine is currently published in three versions – an annual guide, a website and a mobile app.
The Penang state government also publishes its own multi-lingual newspaper, Buletin Mutiara, which is circulated for free every fortnight. The Penang-centric newspaper focuses on the current issues affecting Penang.
Media: Television Due to its well-preserved heritage cityscape, George Town served as the filming location for a number of movies, such as Anna and the King, Lust, Caution and You Mean the World to Me, the latter of which is the first movie to be filmed entirely in Penang Hokkien. Singaporean drama series, The Little Nyonya and The Journey: Our Homeland, were also shot within the UNESCO zone. In addition, the city was one of the pit-stops of The Amazing Race 16, The Amazing Race Asia 4 and The Amazing Race Asia 5.
Media: Radio The available FM radio stations in George Town, both government (including Penang-based Mutiara FM) and commercial, are as listed below.
George Town has a population of over 708,127 people. George Town also forms part of the Greater Penang metropolitan area which has a population of over 2,412,616 people. George Town is ranked #349 for startups with a score of 0.695.
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Twin Towns, Sister Cities George Town has links with:🇦🇺 Adelaide, Australia 🇮🇩 Ambon, Indonesia 🇫🇷 Arles, France 🇹🇭 Bangkok, Thailand 🇰🇷 Busan, South Korea 🇰🇷 Changwon, South Korea 🇮🇩 Denpasar, Indonesia 🇦🇺 Grange, Australia 🇨🇳 Haikou, China 🇹🇼 Kaohsiung, Taiwan 🇮🇩 Medan, Indonesia 🇹🇭 Phuket City, Thailand 🇨🇳 Sanya, China 🇨🇳 Siming District, China 🇹🇼 Taipei, Taiwan 🇨🇳 Xi'an, China 🇨🇳 Xiamen, China 🇯🇵 Yokohama, Japan 🇨🇳 Zhongshan, China
🇫🇷 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 5.499
🇬🇫 Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni 5.499
🇮🇩 Banda Aceh 5.55
🇲🇾 Sungai Petani 5.641
🇲🇾 Seberang Perai 5.4
🇲🇾 Penang Island 5.384
🇲🇾 Kuala Terengganu 5.331
🇲🇾 Kampung Sungai Ara 5.317
🇲🇾 Bayan Lepas 5.283
🇹🇭 Phichit town 100.333
🇹🇭 Bang Bua Thong 100.4
🇹🇭 Sao Thong Hin 100.417
🇱🇦 Ban Houayxay 100.423
🇮🇩 Padang Panjang 100.429
🇹🇭 Samut Sakhon 100.283
🇲🇾 Kampung Sungai Ara 100.267
🇲🇾 Bayan Lepas 100.267
🇹🇭 Phitsanulok 100.252
🇲🇾 Penang Island 100.251
🇹🇭 Nakhon Sawan 100.138
🇹🇭 Suphan Buri 100.117
🇹🇭 Nakhon Pathom 100.05
Locations Near: George Town 100.329,5.41565
🇲🇾 Penang Island 100.251,5.384 d: 9.3
🇲🇾 Kampung Sungai Ara 100.267,5.317 d: 13
🇲🇾 Seberang Perai 100.467,5.4 d: 15.4
🇲🇾 Penang 100.457,5.354 d: 15.7
🇲🇾 Bayan Lepas 100.267,5.283 d: 16.2
🇲🇾 Kulim 100.583,5.333 d: 29.6
🇲🇾 Sungai Petani 100.491,5.641 d: 30.8
🇲🇾 Alor Setar 100.659,5.924 d: 67.3
🇲🇾 Jitra 100.435,6.129 d: 80.1
Antipodal to: George Town -79.671,-5.416
🇵🇪 Piura -80.633,-5.2 d: 19905.9
🇵🇪 Chiclayo -79.844,-6.764 d: 19863.9
🇪🇨 Loja -79.2,-3.983 d: 19847.5
🇵🇪 Chachapoyas -77.873,-6.229 d: 19796.5
🇵🇪 Cajamarca -78.517,-7.157 d: 19783.3
🇪🇨 Machala -79.967,-3.267 d: 19773.9
🇪🇨 Cuenca -78.983,-2.883 d: 19723.4
🇵🇪 Trujillo -79.034,-8.103 d: 19708.1
🇪🇨 Guayaquil -79.883,-2.183 d: 19654.9