KL @ A Glance

Getting Around KL

Travel Tips

KL @ A Glance

Kuala Lumpur city center (KL) is renowned for its tall, futuristic skyscrapers and modern structures. Yet, to experience KL, you 're going to have to walk through its streets and roads to appreciate KL at its best. That's how you're going to be able to smell the food from the hawker stalls, appreciate the murals on the some of the older buildings. The more you walk, the more you will come to realise that KL is not just about concrete skyscrapers, but is a work of architectural art. Sauntering along the streets, you would be able to take in the sights of KL better.

KL's establishment was almost an accident. In 1857, 87 Chinese prospectors, looking for tin, arrived at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers and set up camp, naming the place Kuala Lumpur, meaning 'muddy confluence'.

History of Kuala Lumpur (KL)


Mohammed Shah becomes the third sultan of Selangor. During his reign, tin mines are opened at Ampang and the state is divided into five independently governed distriicts.


Raja Abdullah and Raja Juma'at, nephews of Abdul Samad, forth sultan of Selangor sponsor an expedition of 87 Chinese miners up the Klang River to search for more tin.


Chinese trader Hiu Siew named the first Kapitan Cina (meaning Chinese captain) of the glowing jungle settlement known as Kuala Lumpur (KL).


Kuala Lumpur grows quickly. New miners from around the world arrive here, resulting in many disputes and gang wars.


A war over the tax spoils of tin starts between Raja Abdullah, administrator of Klang, and Raja Mahadi. The war ended in 1874.


Yap Ah Loy becomes Kuala Lumpur's Chinese Kapitan and in only a few years succeeds in restoring law and order in Kuala Lumpur.


Bloomfield Douglas is appointed as the Acting Assistant Resident.


Following the tin boom of 1879 and a swelling Kuala Lumpur population, the British Resident in Selangor, Bloomfield Douglas, moves the state capital from Klang to Kuala Lumpur.


The entire town of Kuala Lumpur was burnt down. Later, in the same year, the town was severely flooded.


Frank Swettenham becomes the new British Resident in Kuala Lumpur and starts rebuilding the city in brick following devastating fires and floods in 1881.


The railway line between Klang and Kuala Lumpur initiated by Swettenham is opened.


Kuala Lumpur becomes the capital of the state of Selangor.


State Treasurer Alfred Venning begins to layout a botanical garden in the valley where a small stream is dammed to create a lake. Kuala Lumpur has its Lake Gardens in ten years.


The population grew from 4,500 (in 1894) to 20,000.


Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang became part of the Federated Malay States, with Kuala Lumpur as the capital. Sultans are losing political influence to the British Residents.


Within a month of the invasion, the Japanese took Kuala Lumpur and occupied the peninsular. Chinese people have been poorly served and the economy of the city has stagnated for almost four years.


After public opposition to the proposed Malayan Union, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) forms, signalling a rising desire for political independence from Britain.


Start of the Emergency, when the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) takes to the jungles and begins fighting a guerrilla war against the British that would last for 12 years.


Sir Henry Gurney, the British high commissioner to Malaya, is assassinated by MCP rebels, a terrorist act that alienates many moderate Chinese from the party.


Formation of Parti Perikatan (Alliance Party) between UMNO, the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and Malayan Indian Congress (MIC). Two years later it wins 80% of the vote in Malaya’s first national election.


The Department of Aboriginal Affairs Malaysia is set up to protect the Orang Asli from modern encroachment and exploitation.


Malaysia marks its independence on 31 August after 151 years of British rule. Kuala Lumpur becomes the capital of the Independent Federation of Malaya.


Following the general election, on 13 March a race riot erupts in Kuala Lumpur, killing hundreds. A national emergency is declared and parliament is suspended as Kuala Lumpur is put under curfew.


Parliament convenes and the New Economic Policy (NEP) is introduced, to put 30% of Malaysia’s corporate wealth in the hands of Malays within 20 years.


Kuala Lumpur was given city status.


After the Sultan of Selangor ceded Kuala Lumpur to the state, declaring it a federal territory, the people of Kuala Lumpur lost their representation in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly.


After the death of Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn became Malaysia 's third prime minister. His term of office is marked by efforts to promote cohesion among the diverse communities of Malaysia.


The construction of a new administrative hub, Putrajaya, as part of a Multimedia Super Corridor extending from KL to the new international airport in Sepang is announced.


After six years of planning and construction, the Petronas Towers were officially opened. The twin towers held the title of the tallest building in the world until 2004.


The federal administrative capital of Malaysia moves to Putrajaya.


Kuala Lumpur marks its 50th year of independence as the capital of Malaysia.


1. The theory that Yap Ah Loy was the founder of Kuala Lumpur is challenged with the publication of the book “Sutan Puasa, Founder of Kuala Lumpur” by Abdur-Razzaq Lubis.

2. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was named World Book Capital for the year 2020 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.


Kuala Lumpur is the World Book Capital for 2020/21.