Kuala Lumpur

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur (kwä´lə lŏŏm´pŏŏr), city (1990 est. pop. 1,750,000), capital of Malaysia, S Malay Peninsula, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, within the Federal Territory. Malaysia's chief inland city, Kuala Lumpur is the country's commercial and transportation hub. An industrial center in a tin-mining and rubber-growing district, it experienced huge growth in the 1980s and 90s. The city is the home of the Univ. of Malaya, as well as many hospitals, museums, a symphony orchestra, and the national zoo. Among the notable sights are the Petronas Towers (1997), twin structures that are among the world's tallest buildings; and the modern parliament building in Moorish style. The population is about two-thirds Chinese.

The city was founded in 1857 by Chinese tin miners and superseded Klang. In 1880 the British government transferred their headquarters from Klang to Kuala Lumpur, and in 1896 it became the capital of the Federated Malay States (see Malaysia). Under the leadership of Sir Frank Swettenham, streets were enlarged, modern building materials were used to build offices and new structures, and construction began on the Klang–Kuala Lumpur Railway. In 1957, British rule ended, and Kuala Lumpur became the capital of the independent Federation of Malaya. The city became the capital of Malaysia in 1963 and it and the surrounding area were designated a federal territory in 1974. The new administrative capital, Putrajaya, is south of Kuala Lumpur. In 1999 several government offices, including that of the prime minister, moved there, and in 2001 Putrajaya became a federal territory. The new city is part of a projected Malaysia Multimedia Supercorridor, a high-tech business zone intended to stretch from the Petronas Towers to the international airport.

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