Kedah (kĕˈdə, kāˈdä) [key], state (1991 pop. 1,304,800), 3,660 sq mi (9,479 sq km), central Malay Peninsula, Malaysia, on the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered on the N and NE by Thailand. The capital and chief city is Alor Setar; Sungai Patani is an important town. Along the coast are wide alluvial plains where rice is grown. S Kedah has rubber plantations, and tin is mined in the hills of the interior. Generally level, Kedah has on its east border a mountain range that rises to 6,600 ft (2,012 m). Several islands are also included in the state; Langkawi off the northwest coast is the largest. The majority of the inhabitants of Kedah are Malays; there are also many Chinese, Indians working on the rubber plantations, and small groups of aborigines. Kedah was the center of the early Hinduized kingdom of Langkasuka, according to Arab and Chinese reports of the 6th–8th cent. During the Sri Vijaya domination of the Malay Peninsula (8th–13th cent.) it was an important naval and trade center. During the 15th cent. it fell under the domination of Malacca (see Melaka) but maintained substantial independence and a profitable trade with India and Indonesia. At this time most of the inhabitants were converted to Islam. After the fall of Malacca (1511), Kedah was fought over by the Portuguese, Dutch, Bugis, Minangkabau, and Siamese. By ceding Pinang (1786) and Province Wellesley (1800) to the British, the sultan of Kedah embittered his relations with the Siamese court, which was not appeased by his subsequent conquest of Perak for Siam. A bloody Siamese invasion (1821) drove him into exile until 1842; upon his return Perlis was created as a separate state. In 1909, Siam transferred sovereignty over Kedah to Great Britain. Before the establishment of the Federation of Malaya (1948), Kedah was classed as one of the Unfederated Malay States. See Malaysia.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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