Together with Perlis, Perak, and Kelantan, this northwest state shares a common border with Thailand in the north. Known as the "Rice Bowl of Malaysia", the Kedah-Perlis rice plains produce more than half of the country's home grown rice supply. It is a land of unique natural beauty, surrounded by much greenery. The terrain of Kedah is considered 'flat' with "kampungs" (villages) scattered over "padi" (rice) fields. One will be able to feast their eyes on lush green padi fields enhanced by traditional Malay houses, coconut palms, local fruit trees, and rolling hills. The people of Kedah are generally padi planters with most living in kampungs next to their fields. As one of the oldest states in Malaysia, Kedah has a population of approximately 1 million people, which is made up of various races. Kedah is very much a Malay state although traces of Thai or Achinese ancestry can still be seen. It has different business hours than most of the other states. Banks and government offices are closed on Friday. Saturday is a half-day and Sunday is a working day. Although Kedah is Malaysia's "rice bowl", the state is currently undertaking new fields, mainly industrial and tourism. Industrial estates have sprung up in Alor Setar, Kuala Kedah, and Sungai Petani while the government has started developing and promoting tourist facilities.
Modern Kedah begins with the Hindu-Buddhist era in the 5th Century. Even the current royal family's past can be traced to that century. Other findings also show that Kedah was the cradle of Hindu-Buddhist civilization in the Peninsula and one of the first places to come into contact with Indian traders. These archeological findings show that the state was once a prosperous center for trade. However, the history of Kedah is marked by successive periods of foreign influence due to its vulnerable position - it was located on one of the main transit routes across the Peninsula on the great east-west trade route. It first came under the influence of the Sriwijaya Empire of Sumatra during the 7th and 8th Century. Later, it fell under the influence of the Thais until the 15th Century when the rise of Melaka led to the Islamization of the area. The Portuguese later attacked Kedah in the 17th Century. The British held power in the 18th Century and the Siamese again in the 19th Century. Kedah remained under the Siamese control until early 20th Century when they were passed to the British. It finally became part of the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
By Road : The north-south expressway has made it easy for any traveler to drive up to Kedah. Roads are accessible from major towns and cities in the Peninsula. It is a 7-8 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. From major towns, such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, air-conditioned express buses are also available. They service almost all towns in Kedah.
From Alor Setar, the capital city of Kedah, one can even take the bus up to the border of Thailand.
By Rail : The Malaysian railway (KTM) services major towns in Kedah.
By Air : The airport is located approximately 11km north of Alor Setar. Malaysia Airlines flies daily to and from Alor Setar from Kuala Lumpur via either Penang or Kota Bharu.
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