16th century Portuguese traders from Goa, India sailing to the Far East in search of spices found a small island where they replenished their water supplies. They named it Pulo Pinaom.
In the 17th century, Penang’s location at the northern entry to the Straits of Malacca provided a sheltered harbour for Chinese, Indian, Arabian and European ships during the monsoon months; this, in turn, inevitably made it fertile hunting ground for pirates.
In 1826, Penang, along with Malacca and Singapore, became part of the Straits Settlements under the British administration in India, later coming under direct British rule in 1867 as a Crown Colony.
George Town was voted as one of the best cities in Asia by Asiaweek, ranked 6th in 1998 and 9th in 2000.
More recently, George Town has improved a notch to rank as the 9th most liveable city in Asia in a survey of 254 cities worldwide according to an international location ratings survey by Employment Conditions Abroad Limited (ECA International), an agency that develops and provides solutions for the management and assignment of employees around the world, in its annual Location Ratings Survey.
Previously it was ranked 10th in 2009 which saw the biggest improvement in scores among the 49 Asians cities surveyed by rising 11 notches in global best cities ranking from 74 to 63. A city is judged based on living standards according to categories, including climate, air quality, health services, housing and utilities, isolation, social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, personal safety and political tension.
On 7 July 2008, George Town was, together with Malacca, formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is officially recognized as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.
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