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George town

George Town is the capital of the Malaysian state of Penang and the core city of the George Town Conurbation, Malaysia's second largest metropolitan area with a population of 2.84 million. The city proper covers an area of 306 km2 (118 sq mi) and was home to a population of 794,313 as of 2020. Initially established as an entrepôt by Francis Light in 1786, George Town now serves as the economic hub for northern Malaysia. Rated a 'Gamma' level global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network in 2020, it exhibits the highest potential in Malaysia for revenue growth and contributed nearly 8% of the country's personal disposable income, second only to Kuala Lumpur. George Town remains the financial centre of northern Malaysia, while the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, a high-tech manufacturing hub in the city's south, has become the nucleus of Malaysia's electronics industry. Its strong manufacturing sector, anchored by hundreds of multinational companies, has made George Town the top exporter among Malaysian cities. It is also the primary medical tourism hub in the country. The Penang International Airport links George Town with several major regional cities, while a ferry service and two road bridges connect the city with the rest of Peninsular Malaysia. In recent years, Swettenham Pier has emerged as the busiest port of call in Malaysia for cruise shipping. George Town was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia and its proximity to maritime routes along the Strait of Malacca attracted an influx of immigrants from various parts of Asia in the early 19th century. Following rapid growth in its early years, it became the capital of the Straits Settlements in 1826, only to lose its administrative status to Singapore in 1832. The Straits Settlements became a British crown colony in 1867. George Town was subjugated by the Empire of Japan in December 1941, before being retaken by the British at the end of World War II. Shortly before Malaya attained independence from Britain 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, a position that would not be altered until 2015, when its jurisdiction was reinstated and expanded to cover the entirety of Penang Island and the surrounding islets in 2015. The city is renowned for its unique architectural styles, which have been shaped by centuries of intermingling of various ethnicities and religions. It has also gained a reputation as modern Malaysia's gastronomical capital for its distinct and ubiquitous street cuisine. The preservation of these cultures contributed to the city centre's designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. George Town was named in honour of King George III, the ruler of Great Britain and Ireland between 1760 and 1820. Prior to the arrival of the British, the area had been known as 'Tanjung Penaga', due to the abundance of penaga laut trees (Calophyllum inophyllum) found at the cape (tanjung) of the city. It is often mistakenly spelled as 'Georgetown', which was never the city's official name. This misspelling may be due to confusion with other places worldwide that share the same name. In common parlance, the city of George Town is also erroneously called 'Penang', which in actual fact is the name of the entire state that includes mainland Seberang Perai.


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