The state of Kedah spans approximately 9, 425 sq. km in the northern part of the Peninsular and together with Perlis, Perak and Kelantan, shares a common border with neighbouring Thailand. It is a fairly small state. Its population is about one million primarily Malay, though significant Chinese and Indian minorities can be seen. It is known as the “Rice Bowl of Malaysia” where its rice plains together with Perlis produce more than half of the country’s home grown rice supply. Its state capital is Alor Setar.
Kedah’s early history can be traced from the prehistoric period to the archeological site of Bujang Valley, the early Maritime trade of India, Persia, Arabs to the written works of the early Chinese pilgrims and early Chinese records, the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa or known as the Kedah Annals to the Al-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah. Kedah was also known as Kedaram, Kidaram, Kalagam and Kataha by the Tamils. It was known as Kalah or Kalaha by the Persians. Kedah possess numerous islands, legends, historical relics, hill stations and scenic waterfalls.
The legendary and famous island Langkawi is just off Kedah’s western shore. It has Bujang Valley, where evidence of the existence of an early civilisation dating back to the 6th century was found with other archeological discoveries. Not to mention its vast paddy fields spans across the backdrop of rolling hills which provides serenity and breathtaking views. In the 7th and 8th centuries, the region was dominated by Sri Vijaya. It followed by the Siamese until the 15th century, when the Malay sultanate of Melaka came to power. During this period, the Melakan influences were introduced while the dominant aspects of Kedah’s ancient civilisation began to wane.
In the 17th century, Kedah was attacked by the Portuguese when it conquered various parts of Malaysia. In 1821, Kedah fell into the hands of the Siamese and remained under their control until British took over when the Anglo-Siamese Treaty was signed in 1909. Kedah established independence along with the rest of Malaysia in 1957. As Kedah is quite close to Thailand, some of its cultural traditions, songs and dances have Thai influences in them. Apart from that, even Kedah’s people often bear signs of Thai or Archinese ancestry looks.