Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south. Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area after Perlis, and the eighth most populous. It is composed of two parts – Penang Island, where the seat of government is, and Seberang Perai (formerly, and occasionally Province Wellesley) on the Malay Peninsula. Highly urbanised and industrialised Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the country, as well as a thriving tourist destination. Its heterogeneous population is highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language, and confessions. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite.
The name "Penang" comes from the modern Malay name Pulau Pinang, which means island of the areca nut palm (Areca catechu, family Palmae). The name Penang may refer either to the island of Penang (Pulau Pinang) or the state of Penang (Negeri Pulau Pinang). In Malay, Penang's capital George Town was called and labelled in old maps as Tanjung Bidara (Cape Penaigre), named after the many ballnut trees (also known as Alexandrian laurels, Calophyllum inophyllum) on the coast, but now usually shortened as Tanjung (the Cape).
Penang is often known as "The Pearl of the Orient", and Pulau Pinang Pulau Mutiara (Penang, Island of Pearls). Penang is shortened as "PG" or "PP" in Malay.
Early Malays called it Pulau Ka-Satu or "First (or Single) Island" because it was the largest island encountered on the trading sea-route between Lingga and Kedah. The Siamese, then the overlord of the Kedah Sultanate, referred to the island as Koh Maak. In the 15th century, the island of Penang was referred to as Bīnláng Yù
In the navigational drawings used by Admiral Zheng He of Ming-dynasty China in his expeditions to the South Seas. Fifteenth-century