Perak (pāˈrăk) [key], state (1991 pop. 1,880,016), 8,030 sq mi (20,798 sq km), Malaysia, central Malay Peninsula, on the Strait of Malacca. Perak is bordered on the N by Thailand. The capital is Ipoh; Taiping is also important. The state is drained by the Perak River (c.200 mi/320 km long), which empties into the Strait of Malacca. In Perak, one of the most populous states of the federation, is the Kinta valley, an important tin-mining district. Chinese, originally employed in the mines, constitute nearly half the population of the state; Malays, including the aboriginal Sakai, and Indians constitute the remainder. Rubber, coconut, and rice are the chief products. Fishing is a major industry.
Before the 16th cent., Perak was the vassal state of the powers that in turn dominated the Malay Peninsula. After the fall of Malacca (1511), it was for a time dominated by the sultan of Aceh in Sumatra; in the 19th cent. it was invaded by Kedah at Siam's instigation. Civil war, augmented by disorders among the Chinese tin miners, plunged Perak in the 19th cent. into anarchy, and it became a British protectorate (1874). In 1896, Perak became one of the Federated Malay States, and in 1948 it became part of the Federation of Malaya. See Malaysia.
See J. F. McNair, Perak and the Malays (1878, repr. 1973).