Melaka History

Overview
a-famosa

It was in the fourteenth century that the fishing village of Melaka gained the attention a Hindu prince named Parameswara from Sumatra. He was the last ruler of ancient Singapore who was of Malay origin. The ruler decided to make this place a permanent settlement and named it ‘Melaka’ after a tree. A special position is occupied by Melaka Sultanate when it comes to history of Malaysia. The discovery of this new place led to the emergence of new Malayan Empire. Melaka served as the perfect platform on which the Dutch, Portuguese and English played their roles towards shaping the history of this beautiful place. The industrious nature of Parameswara along with chiefs made this place a powerful maritime trading destination attracting traders from different parts. Muslim traders from India and West Asia shifted their attention towards Melaka from other trading places. The strategic location of Melaka made it a popular trading centre with merchants and ships arriving from India, Japan, China, South Africa and Arab.

In the year 1511, Melaka was captured by the Portuguese which soon shifted to the hands on the Dutch in the year 1641. It was in the year, 1795 the British took control of Melaka to prevent French occupancy. However, after treaty of Vienna came into effect, Melaka was again handed over to the Dutch. Following the year 1826, British East India Company together with Penang and Singapore started to govern the place. The place was ruled by the Dutch for more than a century which is prominent from the fine buildings that exist still today. The red Christ Church which is a prominent feature of Melaka city was built with pink bricks that were imported from Holland. Local red lacerite was then used to give the structure that red appearance. The European presence is constantly reminded by some of the famous structures like the St. Paul’s Church and A Famosa.


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Straits of Malacca – The longest Strait in the world

Straits of Malacca is a funnel-shaped narrow waterway of 800 km long that connects the South China Sea and Andaman Sea. The Strait of Malacca is running between Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand and Sumatra (Indonesia). The name of the strait came from Malacca Sultanate that ruled the group of islands between 1400 and 1511. The port of Malacca played an important role in trade during 16th and 17th centuries.

The depth of water in the southern side of the street does not exceed 120 feet. Usually, the depth of water is around 90 feet. However, the depth of the water deepens gradually towards the northwestern side and reaches the depth of about 650 feet because the strait join with Andaman Basin.

History of Straits of Malacca

Malacca was an important city situated along the Strait of Malacca during past centuries. Malacca was the major trading port, where sailing vessels loaded with spices from all parts of the world used to come to the harbor. The port was also popular for trading various things such as silk, porcelain, textiles, camphor, sandalwood, mace, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, tin, and gold from various parts of the world. Malacca used to be the safe place as the wind was blowing always towards the right position, so that the sailors can reach the shore safely.

During the 7th century, the Srivijaya Empire based in Sumatra came into power and the empire expanded its power to Java and Malay Peninsula. The Srivijaya Empire gained control in the Strait of Malacca, Sunda Strait and Southeast Asia. The Srivijaya Empire gained military and economic domination along the Strait of Malacca for around 700 years.


Srivijaya enjoyed great benefits through spice trade between Indian, Arab and Chinese merchants. Straits of Malacca helped to establish a sea route for trade between China and India. It continued in later centuries also even after the Malacca Sultanate came into power during the 15th century.

Malacca had faced several conquerors such as English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese during the past centuries. The city of Malacca became prominent for everyone who wanted to rule the Straits of Malacca as the Strait was an important route for spice trading. Hence, Malacca faced so many conquerors from 1400, so that they can reap economic benefits through spice trading.

In the year 1511, Portuguese under the leadership of Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca. However, the Portuguese could not retain the prosperity of Malacca because of the wars, competition and restrictive policies. They ruled Malacca till the year 1641 because the Dutch East India Company conquered the fort “A Famosa” built by the Portuguese during their reign.

After conquering Malacca, the Dutch rebuilt the fort and also built new buildings. Even though the Dutch constructed new buildings, the trade in Malacca declined during their regime. The Dutch conquered Malacca to eliminate the competitors and ensure safe trade in the spice-route. When the Netherlands was conquered by French in 1795, Malacca was given to the British in order to elude French from conquering the city.

In 1808, the British returned Malacca to Dutch, but the city was soon handed over to the British East India Company again. English East India Company ruled the city since 1826. In 1957, anti-colonial protest culminated and independence was proclaimed by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.


Importance of Straits of Malacca

Strait of Malacca is one of the important shipping channels of the world even now. Strait of Malacca became the shortest sea channel between Persian Gulf traders and Asian traders. Oil containers from the Middle East is transported to the Pacific Rim, South Korea, Japan, and China through the Strait of Malacca. It is the main oil transport checkpoint in Asia as 35% of the all oil containers are passing through the Strait of Malacca. Approximately around 15.2 million barrels of oil are transported through this waterway. Around 90% of the oil transportation consists of crude oil transportation and rest constitutes petroleum products. Every year, more than 60,000 ships pass through the Strait of Malacca.

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