Pinang or Penang, state (1991 pop. 1,065,075), c.400 sq mi (1,040 sq km), Malaysia, on the Strait of Malacca. It consists of Pulau Pinang (an island of 108 sq mi/280 sq km), formerly known as Georgetown; and Province Wellesley (292 sq mi/756 sq km), a strip of territory on the Malay Peninsula adjacent to Pulau Pinang. On the island is the capital, the city of Pinang, also known as Georgetown (1991 pop. 219,376); it is Malaysia's second-busiest port. It was founded in 1786 by British merchants and was ruled by Great Britain until it became part of what is now Malaysia in 1957. The island has large tin-smelting works, and large areas are devoted to rice and rubber. Well over half the inhabitants of the state are Chinese. Indians are less numerous; less than a third are Malays. Pinang Island was the first British settlement on the Malay Peninsula. It was occupied in 1786 by Francis Light of the British East India Company with the permission of the sultan of Kedah. After an unsuccessful attempt to retake the island (1791), the sultan agreed on a settlement from the British of an annual stipend, and in 1800 he also ceded Province Wellesley. Pinang, together with Province Wellesley, Malacca, and Singapore, became known as the Straits Settlements. Under the British, Pinang grew rapidly in commercial importance, although it was surpassed by Singapore. Pinang joined the Federation of Malaya (see Malaysia) in 1948.

The betel nut, seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu)

Either of two different plants that are widely used in combination for chewing purposes in southern Asia and the East Indies. The betel nut is the seed of the areca, or betel, palm (Areca catechu), family Palmae; the betel leaf is from the betel pepper, or pan plant (Piper betle), family Piperaceae. For chewing, a small piece of the areca palm's fruit is wrapped in a leaf of the betel pepper, along with a pellet of lime to cause salivation and release the stimulating alkaloids. Chewing results in a heavy flow of brick-red saliva, which may temporarily dye the mouth, lips, and gums orange-brown. Betel nuts yield an alkaloid that veterinarians use as a worming agent.

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Malay Pinang

Island (pop., 2005 est.: 1,468,800), Malaysia. It lies in the Strait of Malacca off the northwestern coast of West (Peninsular) Malaysia, part of the state of Pulau Pinang. The capital and chief port is George Town (pop., 2000: 180,573), in the northeast. British colonization began in 1786. In 1826 Penang (known until 1867 as Prince of Wales Island) combined with Malacca and Singapore to form the Straits Settlements. From the mid-19th century it was a market for tin and rubber. In 1948 it became part of the Federation of Malaya, later Malaysia. In the late 20th century it became one of Malaysia's prime tourist centres, with resort hotels mainly on the northern coast at Batu Feringgi.

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