Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian pronunciation: [ˈkwalə ˈlumpʊr]), sometimes abbreviated as K.L., is the federal capital and most populous city in Malaysia. The city covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.6 million as of 2012. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 5.7 million as of 2010. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country, in terms of population and economy.
Kuala Lumpur is the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia. The city was once home to the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but they were moved to Putrajaya in early 1999. Some sections of the judiciary still remains in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The official residence of the Malaysian King, the Istana Negara, is also situated in Kuala Lumpur. Rated as an alpha world city, Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial and economic centre of Malaysia due to its position as the capital as well as being a key city. Kuala Lumpur was ranked 48th among global cities by Foreign Policy’s 2010 Global Cities Index and was ranked 67th among global cities for economic and social innovation by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index in 2010.
Kuala Lumpur is defined within the borders of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and is one of three Malaysian Federal Territories. It is an enclave within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Since the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting, political and cultural events including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One Grand Prix. In addition, Kuala Lumpur is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, which have become an iconic symbol of Malaysia’s futuristic development.
Kuala Lumpur has its origins in the 1850s, when the Malay Chief of Klang, Raja Abdullah, hired some Chinese labourers to open new and larger tin mines for tin prospectors. The miners landed at the confluence of Sungai Gombak (previously known as Sungai Lumpur, meaning “muddy river”) and Sungai Klang (Klang River) to open mines at Ampang, Pudu and Batu. These mines developed into a trading post which became a frontier town.
The tin prospectors settled in Ampang, and formed gangs within themselves. The two largest Chinese gangsters, the Hakka-dominated Hai San and the Hokkien-dominated Ghee Hin, frequently engaged in warfare to gain control of tin production in the town. The incessant warfare between the two factions brought tin mine production to a standstill, prompting the British, who ruled Selangor as one of the Federated Malay States at the time, to appoint a Chinese Kapitan (headman) to administer Kuala Lumpur. Hiu Siew, the owner of a mine in Lukut, was elected as the first Kapitan. As one of the first traders to arrive in Ampang (along with Yap Ah Sze), he sold provisions to the miners in exchange for tin.
During the early times, Kuala Lumpur had many problems, including the Selangor Civil War; it was also plagued by diseases and constant fires and floods. Around the 1870s, the third Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Loy, emerged as leader, and became responsible for the survival and subsequent systematic growth of this town. He began to develop Kuala Lumpur from a small, obscure settlement into a booming mining town. In 1880, the state capital of Selangor was moved from Klang to the more strategically advantageous Kuala Lumpur.