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  • 7/9/2003


Kuala Lumpur (or "K. L.," as it's known to locals) is the center and symbol ofMalaysia's rapid rise as an economic powerhouse. There are enchanting temples and mosques, small white-washed colonial churches and British Tudor-style clubhouses in the city. At night, markets and lantern-lit streets ring with the sound of Malay, Chinese and Indian hawkers selling tantalizing dishes. While running hard toward the future, K. L. still offers a glimpse of its colorful heritage and a taste of traditional, exoticAsia.


Kuala Lumpur is situated midway along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, at the Confluence of the Klang and Gombek rivers. It is approximately 35 km from the coast and sits at the centre of the Peninsula's extensive and modern transportation network.Kuala Lumpur is easily the largest city in the nation, possessing a population of over one and a half million people drawn from all of Malaysia's many ethnic groups.


Sultan Abdul Samad building

This beautiful monument marks the traditional center ofKuala Lumpur. It is a wonderful blend of Victorian and Moorish architecture, typical of the colonial buildings that give the city much of its character. Designed by the British architect AC Norman and built between 1894 and 1897, the Sultan Abdul Samad building was formerly the Secretariat building for the British administration and now houses the Supreme Court. It is topped by a 43-metre-high clock tower.

Masjid Jamek Mosque

 Masjid Jamek

Mosque or 'Friday Mosque', the most delightful of all KL's mosques, is at the confluence of the Kelang and Gombak rivers and lies behind the Sultan Abdul Samad building. This was the place where KL's founders first set foot in the town and where supplies were landed for the tin mines. Set in a grove of palm trees, the mosque is a picturesque structure with onion domes and minarets striped in red and white.

Bird Park

TheBird Park is one of the highlights of the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, with a large variety of South-East Asian and other birds. Particularly interesting are the rare Rhinoceros hornbills fromBorneo. TheLake Garden district lies at the edge of the central city area.

Petronas Twin Towers

They are Twin stainless, steel, clad skyscrapers, which are linked by a sky bridge. With 88 stories and a height of 1,483 ft (452 m), a figure that includes the pinnacle atop each tower, the towers are considered the world's tallest buildings (though, when measured by the roof line, theSears Tower is higher). Designed by Cesar Pelli (b.1926), the circular, step-tapered towers, completed in 1996, house the headquarters ofMalaysia's national petroleum company. Their structural frames consist of high-strength, steel-reinforced concrete.

National Museum

The National Museum, located atop a hill, provides an interesting introduction to the history and culture of Malaysia. Built in the style of a Malay palace, its impressive facade of two large murals depicts scenes of the country's colorful past. The museum houses various galleries, each with its own theme. The Historical Gallery traces the different periods in the history of Peninsular Malaysia. The Cultural Gallery is a collection of various aspects of the Malaysian culture, from common everyday pastimes to important ceremonial customs. Included in the exhibits are a Malay wedding scene, a royal circumcision ceremony, and a presentation on the heritage of the Straits-born Chinese. The Metalwork and Musical Instruments Gallery showcases various objects and utensils from kitchenware and ceremonial ornaments to weapons and traditional instruments of Malaysian music. Other galleries include the National Sports Gallery and the Natural History Gallery.


Kuala Lumpur had its share of setbacks before it evolved into one ofAsia’s richest capitals. For instance, many of the original miners died of malaria and, as other prospectors (looking to get rich) filtered in, the town was overrun by rampant lawlessness. It was the Malay Civil War, however, that was most devastating. Before the British intervened to quell the uprising, the city was completely destroyed by fire. The Malay Civil War involved local sultans fighting for the throne of Perak; the state to the north of where KL was in the state of Selangor. Swept up in conflict, KL burnt to the ground. The merchants of theStraits Settlements, concerned that the war would ruin their prosperity, asked Britain to intervene. Fearing the loss of its tin interests, the British sent Governor Andrew Clarke to appraise the situation. Clarke gathered the feuding princes and convinced them to sign the Pangkor Agreement in 1874. The Agreement ended the war, established a new Sultan of Perak, and - most significantly - called for the presence of a British Resident "who must be asked and acted upon on all questions other than those touching Malay religion and custom." This was the beginning of a dramatically increased British involvement in Malaya, one that would eventually place Kuala Lumpur at the center of history.

The city became a classic center of British colonialism. Sharply uniformed officers and bureaucrats administered the FMS from beneath the distinctive copper domes of theSultan Abdul Samad Building. In the off-hours, they played cricket on the field of the Padang and sought liquid comfort in the Selangor Club, where only whites were allowed. Unsurprisingly, the club became a symbol of British imperialism and oppression and fueled the ever-growing dreams of independence. At midnight onAugust 30, 1957, amidst a crowd of tens of thousands, British soldiers finally lowered the Union Jack for the last time in front of the Selangor Club. Interestingly, the old British watering hole would become the meeting place of the new Malaysian elite.

With independence, KL was poised for its greatest transformation ever. One of the city's darkest days came in 1969, when civil unrest - spawned by racial tensions -- swept through the city, sparking a state of emergency that would last for two years. Bolstered by a growing economy and a sincere desire for cooperation between Malaysia's ethnic groups, the tensions subsided, and in 1974 the city was given the status of Federal Territory. The last 10 years have seenKuala Lumpur undergo phenomenal growth, with a population explosion of almost 50 percent, not to mention development on a monumental scale. The world's tallest buildings now rise above the city of 2 million. If those 87 Chinese miners could have poled their way 140 years up the river of time, they probably wouldn't recognize the legacy that began where the two muddy rivers met.

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