Malaysia's northern gateway, this little state is often overshadowed by its bigger brethren.
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The youngest and smallest state in Malaysia, Perlis is often overlooked as a quiet and quaint place. It is a place filled with natural beauty, suited for those who wish to enjoy an idyllic village lifestyle among a green countryside. The local culture here bears Siamese influence, as the state shares a border with Thailand.
A major attraction in Perlis would be the border town of Padang Besar, withh its famous Pekan Siam, a colourful local bazaar offering a variety of goods, including textiles, handicraft, fresh fruits and local delicacies. Locals make it a point to visit ocassionally to check out new additions, and visitors usually have a fun time hunting for bargains and souvenirs there.
Perlis has also some lovely nature attractions, most notably its State Park, which encompasses a range of limestone hills. Within these hills are several prominent caves, such as Kelam Cave and Wang Burma Cave, which are simply breathtaking. In addition, there are various museums in the state that exhibit archaeological relics and artefacts found in Perlis that shed some light on the state's obscure past.
Originally a part of the Kedah Sultanate, Perlis found itself under the competing influence of the Siamese from the north and the Achenese in Northern Sumatra in the 19th century. When Kedah finally fell to the Siamese, the British, who were at that time expanding their influence in neighbouring Perak, felt threatened and decided to ensure that the annexation would not affect them negatively. The British entered into negotiation with the Siamese and were able to come to an agreement, known as the Burney Treaty, that ensured the balance of interests between the two powers and acknowledged Siamese rule over the four northern Malay states that bordered Siam, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu.
The exiled Kedah Sultan was not party of this agreement and he launched a war to restore himself to power. He was unsuccessful and only regained his throne after agreeing to Siamese terms. During that time, the Siamese had already seperated Perlis into a separate entity under the rule of a member of Kedah royalty, Syed Hussain Jamalulail, who ruled as Raja of Perlis. To this day, the hereditary title of the ruler of Perlis is Raja, unlike the Sultans of the other Malay states.
During the 20th century, ultimate control of Perlis was handed back and forth between the British and Siamese. After the end of World War II, the British regained control over Perlis and the state remained under their rule until it became a part of the Federation of Malaya in 1957.