Urbanisation is not a process that people in Penang think about.
This is not strange, since British George Town came into being in 1786 for trading and strategic reasons. And although Singapore would surpass it in many ways over the following century, Penang identity has always presumed a basic urbanity, with the accompanying sense of being locked in by an extensive hinterland beyond its cityscapes.
The island’s population did grow very quickly, going from 1,000 one year after Francis Light landed to 12,000 by 1804. Being an entrepot port, it could not but become a hotchpotch, ethnically and religion-wise.
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