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Perak

PerakPerak, the fourth largest of Malaysia's fourteen states after Sarawak, Sabah and Pahang, is situated on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Its capital is the town of Ipoh (population: half a million).

Legends tell of a Hindu-Malay kingdom called Gangga Negara in the northwest of Perak. Archaeological discoveries indicate that Perak has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

The modern history of Perak began with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate. The eldest son of the last Sultan of Melaka (Sultan Mahmud Shah), Raja Muzaffar Shah, fleeing the Portuguese conquest of 1511, established his own dynasty on the banks of the Sungai Perak (Perak River) in 1528. As the Perak area was extremely rich in tin, it was under almost continuous threat from outsiders.

Perak means silver in Bahasa Malaysia. The name comes most probably from the silvery colour of tin. In the 1890s, Perak, with the richest alluvial deposits of tin in the world was one of the jewels in the crown of the British Empire. However, some say the name comes from the "glimmer of fish in the water" that sparkled like silver. The Arab honorific of the State is Darul Ridzuan, the Land of Grace.

There are several tourist destinations of moderate interest within the state, but the main tourist destination would probably be Pangkor Island, about 85km from Ipoh, and Ipoh itself because of its great food.

Pangkor - Pulau Pangkor is an island off the coast of Perak in north-west peninsular Malaysia, reached by ferry from Lumut (a small coastal town that links to Ipoh or from Sitiawan). It has a land area of only 8 square kilometres, and a population of approximately 25,000 islanders. It is heavily promoted as a low-key tourist destination by the Malaysian government, but fishing and fish products remain major industries.

Ipoh - Ipoh is the capital city of the Perak state, known for its great food, tin mines and limestone mountains and caves. The name Ipoh originated from a local tree known as the pokok Ipoh. This particular plant is known for its tree sap, which is poisonous and was traditionally used by the Orang Asli (aboriginal people) in their blow darts.

Taiping - Taiping is a quiet pensioner's paradise with century-old trees lining its roads. Attractions include a large park around the famous Taiping Lake and the nearby Taiping Zoo. The name Taiping is made up of two Chinese characters 太 (tai - 'great') and 平 (ping - 'peace').

Teluk Intan - Teluk Intan, a town famous for its pagoda-style leaning tower and unique steamed Chinese rice rolls (chee cheong fun). It is home to a derelict palace that used to house the Raja Dihilir of Perak. Rumours abound about the palace being haunted, especially since it is in the vicinity of Muslim and Chinese cemeteries and is located right next to a Christian burial ground.

Kuala Kangsar - Kuala Kangsar is the official royal town of Perak; it is home to the Raja Muda and Sultan of Perak (as of 2006). It was here that the first rubber tree was planted in the then Malaya, by the English botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley.

Pasir Salak - A small but historic town in Perak which houses a museum detailing the struggle against colonialists in Perak.

Lumut - A town by the sea home to the famous Outward Bound School. It is close to the town of Sitiawan, famous for its fresh and cheap seafood and Chinese-Foochow cuisine and also Teluk Batik, a beach on the coast of the Malacca Strait.

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