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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 483 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TRENGGANU.—ThiS state on the east coast, bounded N. and N.E. by the China Sea, S. by Pahang and W. by Pahang and Kelantan, lies between parallels 4° 4' and 4° 46' N. and toe° 30' and roe 26' E. The greatest length from north to south is 12o m., and the greatest breadth from east to west 5o m. It has a coast-line of 13o m. and an estimated area of about 5000 sq. m. There are several islands off the coast, some of which are inhabited. The surface is generally mountainous. Principal rivers are the Besut, Stiu, Trengganu, Dungun and Kmamun, none of which is navigable for any distance. The climate is mild and fairly healthy. The population numbers about 180,000, almost all Malays, and mostly clusters round the mouths and lower reaches of the rivers. The capital, which is situated at the mouth of the Trengganu River, contains, with its suburbs, not less than 30,000 people. Difficulty of access by river and by land render the interior districts almost uninhabitable. Communication is maintained by boat along the coast. There are no roads and no postal 0,r telegraphic communications. The majority of the people are sailors and fishermen. Rice is grown, but not in sufficient quantities to supply local needs. Much pepper and gambier were at one time grown and exported, but about the year 1903 agriculture began to fall off owing to prevailing in-security of life and property. Not much livestock is raised, the few head of cattle exported from Besut being mostly stolen from across the neighbouring Kelantan border. A successful tin mine under European control exists in the Kmamun district, but as everything possible was done in the past to discourage all foreign enterprise, the probable mineral wealth of the country is still practically untouched. Silk-weaving, carried on entirely by the women, is a considerable industry. The silk is imported raw and is re-exported in the form of Malay clothing (sarongs) of patterns and quality which are widely celebrated. The manufacture of native weapons and of brassware was at one time brisk but is declining. The trade of Trengganu is not increasing. It is valued roughly at about one and a half million dollars a year, is chiefly with Singapore, and is to a great extent carried in Trengganu-built ships, which latter also do some carrying trade for other states on the east coast. The Trengganu sultanate is one of the most ancient in the peninsula and ranks with that of Riau. The state was feudatory to. Malacca in the 13th century and during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries its possession was frequently disputed between Malacca and Siam. The present sultan is the descendant of an ancient family, the members of which have quarrelled and fought with each other for the succession from time immemorial. The last serious disturbance was in 1837 when the grandfather of the present sultan stole the throne from his nephew. Until the acquisition of the state by Great Britain a triennial tribute of gold flowers was paid to Siam, and this with occasional letters of instructions and advice, constituted almost the only tangible evidence of Siamese suzerainty. Of government there was practically none. The sultan, having alienated most of his powers and prerogatives to his relatives, passed his life in religious seclusion and was ruler in no more than name. The revenues were devoured by the relatives, a small part of those accruing from the capital sufficing for the sultan's needs. There were no written laws, no courts and no police. All manner of crime was rampant, the peasantry was mercilessly downtrodden, but the land was full of holy men and the cries of the miserable were drowned in the noise of ostentatious prayer. In fine, Trengganu presented in the beginning of the year 1909 the type of untrammelled Malay rule which had .fortunately disappeared from every other state in the peninsula. In July of that year, however, the first British adviser or agent arrived in the state, which was shortly afterwards visited by the governor of the Straits Settlements, who discussed with the sultan the changed conditions consequent upon the Anglo-Siamese treaty and laid the foundations of future reform.
End of Article: TRENGGANU

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