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The island was renamed the Prince of Wales Island after the heir to the British throne, while the new settlement of George Town was established in honour of King George III.
Thus, George Town became the first British settlement in Southeast Asia and a springboard for future British territorial expansion in the region, while its establishment by the British East India Company marked the start of a period of British imperialism in the Malay Peninsula.
The Cherok Tok Kun megalith in Bukit Mertajam, discovered in 1845, contains Pali inscriptions, indicating that an early Hindu-Buddhist political entity in what is now Kedah had established control over parts of Seberang Perai sometime between the 5th and 6th centuries.
Meanwhile, Penang Island was first documented by Chinese sailors of the Ming dynasty in the 15th century.
Human remains, dating back to about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, have been found at the site south of the Muda River, along with seashells, pottery and hunting tools.
At the time, Ming Emperor Yongle was in the midst of launching naval expeditions that would eventually reach all the way to eastern Africa.
The island, known as Bīnláng Yù (simplified Chinese: ), was mapped by Admiral Zheng He's fleet in the 'Nautical Charts of Zheng He'.
During World War II, Penang was conquered and occupied by the Japanese Empire from 1941 to 1945.
At the end of the war, Penang was also the first state in the Malay Peninsula to be liberated by the British, under Operation Jurist.