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