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Kuala Lumpur

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Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
—  City  —
Clockwise from top left: Petronas Twin Towers, Petaling Street, Masjid Jamek and Gombak/ Klang river confluence, National Monument, National Mosque, skyline of KL. Centre: KL Tower


Nickname(s): KL, Garden City of Lights
Motto: Maju dan Makmur
(English: Progress and Prosper)
Kuala Lumpur is located in Peninsula Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
Location in Peninsular Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is located in Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
Location in Malaysia
Coordinates: 3°8′51″N 101°41′36″E
Country Malaysia
State Federal Territory
Establishment 1857
Granted city status 1 February 1972
Granted Federal Territory 1 February 1974
 •  Mayor (Datuk Bandar) Ahmad Phesal Talib
From 18 July 2012
 • City 243 km2 (94 sq mi)
 • Metro 2,243.27 km2 (866.13 sq mi)
Elevation 21.95 m (72 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 1,627,172 ( 1st)
 • Density 6,891/km2 (17,310/sq mi)
 •  Metro 13,239,871
 • Metro density 251.9/km2 (652/sq mi)
 •  Demonym KL-ite / Kuala Lumpurian
Human Development Index
 • HDI (2010) 0.795 (very high) ( 2nd)
Time zone MST ( UTC+8)
 • Summer ( DST) Not observed ( UTC+8)
Postal code 5xxxx
Mean solar time UTC + 06:46:48
National calling code 03
License plate prefix W (for all vehicles except taxis)
HW (for taxis only)
ISO 3166-2 MY-14

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian pronunciation:  [ˈkwalə ˈlumpʊ]) is the federal capital and most populous city in Malaysia. The city covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi) and has an estimated population of 1.6 million as of 2012. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the country, in terms of population and economy.

Kuala Lumpur is the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia. The city was once home to the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but they were moved to Putrajaya in early 1999. Some sections of the judiciary still remains in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The official residence of the Malaysian King, the Istana Negara, is also situated in Kuala Lumpur. Rated as an alpha world city, Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial and economic centre of Malaysia due to its position as the capital as well as being a key city. Kuala Lumpur was ranked 48th among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index and was ranked 67th among global cities for economic and social innovation by the 2thinknow Innovation Cities Index in 2010.

Kuala Lumpur is defined within the borders of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and is one of three Malaysian Federal Territories. It is an enclave within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Since the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting, political and cultural events including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One Grand Prix. In addition, Kuala Lumpur is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, which have become an iconic symbol of Malaysia's futuristic development.


Jamek Mosque at the confluence of Gombak and Klang rivers.

Kuala Lumpur has its origins in the 1850s, when the Malay Chief of Klang, Raja Abdullah, hired some Chinese labourers to open new and larger tin mines for tin prospectors. The miners landed at the confluence of Sungai Gombak (previously known as Sungai Lumpur, meaning "muddy river") and Sungai Klang ( Klang River) to open mines at Ampang, Pudu and Batu. These mines developed into a trading post which became a frontier town.

The tin prospectors settled in Ampang, and formed gangs within themselves. The two largest Chinese gangsters, the Hakka-dominated Hai San and the Hokkien-dominated Ghee Hin, frequently engaged in warfare to gain control of tin production in the town. The incessant warfare between the two factions brought tin mine production to a standstill, prompting the British, who ruled Selangor as one of the Federated Malay States at the time, to appoint a Chinese Kapitan (headman) to administer Kuala Lumpur. Hiu Siew, the owner of a mine in Lukut, was elected as the first Kapitan. As one of the first traders to arrive in Ampang (along with Yap Ah Sze), he sold provisions to the miners in exchange for tin.

During the early times, Kuala Lumpur had many problems, including the Selangor Civil War; it was also plagued by diseases and constant fires and floods. Around the 1870s, the third Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Loy, emerged as leader, and became responsible for the survival and subsequent systematic growth of this town. He began to develop Kuala Lumpur from a small, obscure settlement into a booming mining town. In 1880, the state capital of Selangor was moved from Klang to the more strategically advantageous Kuala Lumpur.

Redevelopment of Modern Kuala Lumpur

Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, founder of modern Kuala Lumpur

In 1881, a flood swept through the town, following a fire that had engulfed it earlier. These successive problems destroyed the town's structures of wood and atap ( thatching). As a response, Frank Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor, required that buildings be constructed of brick and tile. Hence, Kapitan Yap Ah Loy bought a sprawling piece of real estate for the setting up of a brick industry which would spur the rebuilding of Kuala Lumpur. This place is the eponymous Brickfields. Hence, destroyed atap buildings were replaced with brick and tiled ones. He restructured the building layout of the city. Many of the new brick buildings mirrored those of shop houses in southern China, characterised by " five foot ways" as well as skilled Chinese carpentry work. This resulted in a distinct eclectic shop house architecture typical to this region. A railway line increased accessibility into the growing town. Development intensified in the 1890s, leading to the creation of a Sanitary Board. Kapitan Yap Ah Loy spent a sum of $20,000 to expand road access in the city significantly, linking up tin mines with the city, these roads include the main arterial roads of Ampang Road, Pudu Road and Petaling Street.

As Chinese Kapitan, he was vested with wide powers on par with Malay community leaders. He implemented law reforms and introduced new legal measures. He would also preside over a small claims court. With a police force amounting only 6, he was able to uphold to rule of law. He built a prison which could accommodate 60 prisoners at any time. Kapitan Yap Ah Loy also built Kuala Lumpur's first school and a major tapioca mill in Petaling Street of which the Selangor's Sultan Abdul Samad had an interest.

In 1896, Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States. A mixture of different communities settled in various sections of Kuala Lumpur. The Chinese mainly settled around the commercial centre of Market Square, east of the Klang River, and towards Chinatown. The Malays, Indian Chettiars, and Indian Muslims resided along Java Street (now Jalan Tun Perak). The Padang, now known as Merdeka Square, was the centre of the British administrative offices.

World War II

A scene during World War II on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The scene depicts Japanese troops clearing up High Street (now Jalan Tun H S Lee).

During World War II, Kuala Lumpur was captured by the Imperial Japanese Army on January 11, 1942. They occupied the city until August 15, 1945, when the commander in chief of the Japanese Seventh Area Army in Singapore and Malaya, Seishirō Itagaki, surrendered to the British administration following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kuala Lumpur grew through the war, the rubber and tin commodity crashes and the Malayan Emergency, during which Malaya was preoccupied with the communist insurgency. In 1957, the Federation of Malaya gained its independence from British rule. Kuala Lumpur remained the capital through the formation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963.

May 13, 1969 Race riots and beyond

The Majestic Theatre on Pudu Road was an early pioneer in Kuala Lumpur's cinema scene

On 13 May 1969, the worst race riots on record in Malaysia took place in Kuala Lumpur. The so-called May 13 incident refers to the occurrence of violence between members of the Malay and the Chinese communities, with the former apparently dissatisfied with their socio-political status at that time. The riots resulted in the deaths of 196 people, and led to major changes in the country's economic policy to promote and prioritise Malay economic development over that of the other ethnicities.

Kuala Lumpur later achieved city status in 1972, becoming the first settlement in Malaysia to be granted the status after independence. Later, on February 1, 1974, Kuala Lumpur became a Federal Territory. Kuala Lumpur ceased to be the capital of Selangor in 1978 after the city of Shah Alam was declared the new state capital. On 14 May 1990, Kuala Lumpur celebrated 100 years of local authority. The new federal territory Kuala Lumpur flag and anthem were introduced.

On February 1, 2001, Putrajaya was declared a Federal Territory, as well as the seat of the federal government. The administrative and judicial functions of the government were shifted from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya. Kuala Lumpur however still retained its legislative function, and remained the home of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Constitutional King).


A satellite view of Kuala Lumpur

The geography of Kuala Lumpur is characterized by a huge valley known as Klang Valley. The valley is bordered by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east, several minor ranges in the north and the south and the Strait of Malacca in the west. Kuala Lumpur is a Malay term which translates to "muddy confluence" as it is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers.

Located in the centre of Selangor state, Kuala Lumpur was previously under the rule of Selangor State Government. In 1974, Kuala Lumpur was separated from Selangor to form the first Federal Territory governed directly by the Malaysian Federal Government. Its location on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which has wider flat land than the east coast, has contributed to its faster development relative to other cities in Malaysia. The municipality of the city covers an area of 243 km2 (94 sq mi), with an average elevation of 21.95 m (72.0 ft).

Climate and weather

Protected by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east and Indonesia's Sumatra Island in the west, Kuala Lumpur has a tropical rainforest climate ( Köppen climate classification Af) which is warm and sunny, along with abundant rainfall, especially during the northeast monsoon season from October to March. Temperatures tend to remain constant. Maximums hover between 31 and 33 °C (88 and 91 °F) and have never exceeded 39.3 °C (102.7 °F), while minimums hover between 22 and 23.5 °C (72 and 74 °F) and have never fallen below 14.4 °C (57.9 °F). Kuala Lumpur typically receives minimum 2,600 mm (100 in) of rain annually; June and July are relatively dry, but even then rainfall typically exceeds 127 millimetres (5.0 in) per month.

Flooding is a frequent occurrence in Kuala Lumpur whenever there is a heavy downpour, especially in the city centre and downstream areas. Dust particles from forest fires from nearby Sumatra sometimes cast a haze over the region. It is a major source of pollution in the city together with open burning, emission from motor vehicles and construction work.

Climate data for Subang Jaya (Approximation 8 km distance from Kuala Lumpur City Centre)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36
Average high °C (°F) 32.1
Average low °C (°F) 22.5
Record low °C (°F) 18
Rainfall mm (inches) 169.5
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11 12 14 16 13 9 10 11 13 16 18 15 158
 % humidity 79 79 78 80 82 80 79 79 80 81 82 79 80
Mean monthly sunshine hours 186.0 194.9 207.7 198.0 207.7 195.0 201.5 189.1 165.0 170.5 153.0 161.2 2,229.6
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (normals 1971-2000), Hong Kong Observatory (sun only 1961-1990)
Source #2: BBC Weather (records)


The Kuala Lumpur City Hall

Kuala Lumpur was administered by a corporation sole called the Federal Capital Commissioner from April 1, 1961, until it was awarded city status in 1972, after which executive power was transferred to the Lord Mayor (Datuk Bandar). Nine mayors have been appointed since then. The current mayor is Ahmad Phesal Talib, who has been in office since July 18, 2012.

Local government

The local administration is carried out by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, an agency under the Federal Territories Ministry of Malaysia. It is responsible for public health and sanitation, waste removal and management, town planning, environmental protection and building control, social and economic development, and general maintenance functions of urban infrastructure. Executive power lies with the mayor in the city hall, who is appointed for three years by the Federal Territories Minister. This system of appointing the mayor has been in place ever since the local government elections were suspended in 1970.


Kuala Lumpur's eleven districts serve as administrative subdivisions under the Kuala Lumpur City Hall authority. Two districts lie to the west is Segambut and Lembah Pantai, while (Kepong,Batu and Wangsa Maju) to the north, (Setiawangsa,Titiwangsa and Cheras) to east, Seputeh and Bandar Tun Razak for the south and Bukit Bintang in centralised Kuala Lumpur.

  1. Segambut
  2. Lembah Pantai
  3. Kepong
  4. Batu
  5. Wangsa Maju
  6. Setiawangsa
  1. Titiwangsa
  2. Cheras
  3. Seputeh
  4. Bandar Tun Razak
  5. Bukit Bintang


Kuala Lumpur is home to the Parliament of Malaysia. The hierarchy of authority in Malaysia, in accordance with the Federal Constitution, has stipulated the three branches, of the Malaysian government as consisting of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative branches. Whereas, the Parliament, which consists of the Dewan Negara (Upper House / House of Senate) and Dewan Rakyat (Lower House / House of Representatives).

The city of Kuala Lumpur is represented in the Lower House by eleven Members of Parliament (MPs), who are elected to five-year terms. The 2008 General Elections witnessed the first time opposition parties gained majority in the Federal Territory's parliamentary constituencies. The People's Coalition pact, comprising the Democratic Action Party (DAP), People's Justice Party (PKR), and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), swept five seats, four seats and one seat respectively, whereas the ruling National Front (Barisan Nasional) controls only one.


A street view of the Old Market Square (Medan Pasar)
A pedestrian mall by KL's central market

Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding urban areas form the most industrialized and economically, the fastest growing region in Malaysia. Despite the relocation of federal government administration to Putrajaya, certain government institutions such as Bank Negara Malaysia (National Bank of Malaysia), Companies Commission of Malaysia and Securities Commission as well as most embassies and diplomatic missions have remained in the city.

The city remains as the economic and business centre of the country. Kuala Lumpur is a centre for finance, insurance, real estate, media and the arts of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is rated as an alpha world city, and is the only global city in Malaysia, according to the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). The infrastructure development in the surrounding areas such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang, the creation of the Multimedia Super Corridor and the expansion of Port Klang further reinforce the economic significance of the city.

Bursa Malaysia or the Malaysia Exchange is based in the city and forms one of its core economic activities. As of 20 November 2007, the market capitalisation stood at US$318.65 billion.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Kuala Lumpur is estimated at RM73,536 million in 2008 with an average annual growth rate of 5.9 percent. The per capita GDP for Kuala Lumpur in 2008 is RM48,556 with an average annual growth rate of 5.9 percent. The total employment in Kuala Lumpur is estimated at around 838,400. The service sector comprising finance, insurance, real estate, business services, wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, transport, storage and communication, utilities, personal services and government services form the largest component of employment representing about 83.0 percent of the total. The remaining 17 percent comes from manufacturing and construction.

The average monthly household income for Kuala Lumpur was RM4,105 (USD 1,324) in 1999, up from RM3,371 (USD 1,087) four years prior, making it 66% higher than the national average. In terms of household income distribution, 23.5% of households in the city earned more than RM5,000 (USD 1,613) per month compared to 9.8% for the entire country, while 8.1% earned less than RM1,000 (USD 323) a month.

Pre-war terraced houses refurbished into restaurants and bars along Tengkat Tong Shin in Bukit Bintang

The large service sector is evident in the number of local and foreign banks and insurance companies operating in the city. Kuala Lumpur is poised to become the global Islamic Financing hub with an increasing number of financial institutions providing Islamic Financing and the strong presence of Gulf's financial institutions such as the world's largest Islamic bank, Al-Rajhi Bank and Kuwait Finance House. Apart from that, the Dow Jones & Company is keen to work with Bursa Malaysia to set up Islamic Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs), which would help raise Malaysia's profile in the Gulf. The city has a large number of foreign corporations and is also host to many multi national companies’ regional offices or support centres, particularly for finance and accounting, and information technology functions. Most of the countries’ largest companies have their headquarters based here and as of December 2007 and excluding Petronas, there are 14 companies that are listed in Forbes 2000 based in Kuala Lumpur.

Other important economic activities in the city are education and health services. Kuala Lumpur also has advantages stemming from the high concentration of educational institutions located within its boundaries, providing a wide range of courses. There are numerous public and private medical specialist centres and hospitals in the city which offer general health services and a wide range of specialist surgery and treatment catering to locals and tourists.

There has been growing emphasis to expand the economic scope of the city into other service activities such as research and development which supports the rest of the economy of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur has been home for years to important research centres such as the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia and the Institute of Medical Research and more research centres are expected to be established in the coming years.


Jamek Mosque built in 1907
Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur's bustling Chinatown

Tourism plays an important role in the city’s service-driven economy. Many large worldwide hotel chains have a presence in the city. Kuala Lumpur is the sixth most visited city in the world, with 8.9 million tourist per year. Tourism here is driven by the city's cultural diversity, relatively low costs and wide gastronomic and shopping variety. MICE tourism which mainly encompasses conventions— has expanded in recent years to become a vital component of the industry, and is expected to grow further once the Malaysian government's Economic Transformation Programme kicks in, and with the completion of a new 93,000m2-size MATRADE Centre in 2014. Another notable trend is the increased presence of budget hotels in the city.

The major tourist destinations in Kuala Lumpur include the Merdeka Square, the House of Parliament, the Petaling Street, the National Palace (Istana Negara), the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the National Museum, the Central Market, the National Monument,and religious sites such as the Jamek Mosque and Batu Caves. Kuala Lumpur plays host to many cultural festivals such as the Thaipusam procession at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Every year during the Thaipusam celebration, a silver chariot carrying the statue of Lord Muruga together with his consort Valli and Teivayanni would be paraded through the city beginning at the temple all the way to the Batu Caves.

The entertainment hub of the city is mainly centred in the Golden Triangle encompassing Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Ampang Road. Trendy nightclubs, bars and lounges, such as the Beach Club, Espanda, the Hakka Republic Wine Bar & Restaurant, Hard Rock Cafe, the Luna Bar, Nuovo, Rum Jungle, the Thai Club, Zouk, and many others are located here.


Suria KLCC
Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur retail cluster

Kuala Lumpur alone has 66 shopping malls and is the retail and fashion hub for Malaysia. Shopping in Malaysia contributed RM7.7 billion (USD 2.26 billion) or 20.8 percent of the RM31.9 billion tourism receipts in 2006. and Kuala Lumpur plays a big role in attracting consumers.

Suria KLCC is one of Malaysia's premier shopping destinations due to its location beneath the Petronas Twin Towers.

Apart from Suria KLCC, Bukit Bintang district has the highest concentration of shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. It houses various cafes, alfresco dining outlets and retail malls. The Bangsar district also has a few shopping complexes, including Bangsar Village, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens. The Damansara subdivision north-west of Kuala Lumpur, though not in the city-proper, is the home of the only IKEA outlet in the country, and a cluster of locally operated malls like Cathay Multi Screen Cinemas, The Curve, Ikano Power Centre and One Utama.

Apart from shopping complexes, Kuala Lumpur has designated numerous zones in the city to market locally manufactured products such as textiles, fabrics and handicrafts. The Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur, commonly known as Petaling Street, is one of them. Chinatown features many pre-independence buildings with Straits Chinese and colonial architectural influences. Kuala Lumpur's Central Market (Pasar Seni), which was once the city's wet market, offers an assortment of arts and craft merchandise, varying from antiques and paintings to souvenirs and clothing.

In 2000, the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism introduced the mega sale event for shopping in Malaysia. The mega sale event is held thrice a year — in March, May and December — during which all shopping malls are encouraged to participate to boost Kuala Lumpur as a leading shopping destination. The city was ranked number 4th in the world's top ten best cities to shop in.


Ethnicities of Kuala Lumpur - 2010 Census
ethnic group percent
Other Bumiputera and others
Religion in Kuala Lumpur - 2010 Census
religion percent
Chinese Ethnic Religion
No religion

Kuala Lumpur is the most populous city in Malaysia, with a population of 1.6 million in the city proper as of 2010. It has a population density of 6,696 inhabitants per square kilometre (17,340 /sq mi), and is the most densely populated administrative district in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is a primate city as it has an estimated metropolitan population of 6.9 million as of 2007. Residents of the city are colloquially known as KLites.

The Masjid Negara the modern mosque was built in 1965.

Kuala Lumpur has a heterogeneous populace which includes the country's three major ethnic groups: the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians, although the city also has a mix of different cultures including Eurasians, as well as Kadazans, Ibans and other indigenous races from East Malaysia and Peninsula Malaysia. According to the 2010 census by the Department of Statistics, the percentage of the Bumiputera population in Kuala Lumpur was around 44.2%, while the Chinese population comprised 43.2% and Indians 10.3%. A notable phenomenon has been the increase in the presence of foreign residents in Kuala Lumpur, who now constitute about 9% of the city’s population.

St. John's Cathedral was built in 1883.

Birth rates in Kuala Lumpur have declined and resulted in the lower proportion of young people falling below 15 years old category from 33% in 1980 to slightly less than 27% in 2000. On the other hand, the working age group of 15–59 increased from 63% in 1980 to 67% in 2000. The elderly age group, 60 years old and above has increased from 4% in 1980 and 1991 to 6% in 2000.

Kuala Lumpur's rapid development has triggered a huge influx of low-skilled foreign workers from Indonesia, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Vietnam into Malaysia, many of whom enter the country illegally or without proper permits.

The elaborate Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur's oldest Hindu temple.

Kuala Lumpur is plural and religiously diverse. The city has many places of worship catering to the multi-religious population. Islam is practiced primarily by the Malays and the Indian Muslim communities. Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are practiced mainly among the Chinese. Indians traditionally adhere to Hinduism. Some Chinese and Indians also subscribe to Christianity.

As of 2010 Census the population of Kuala Lumpur is 46.4% Muslim, 35.7% Buddhist, 8.5% Hindu, 5.8% Christian, 1.1% Taoist or Chinese religion adherent, 2.0% follower of other religions, and 0.5% non-religious.

Bahasa Malaysia is the principal language in Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur residents are generally literate in English, with a large proportion adopting it as their first language. It has a strong presence, especially in business and is a compulsory language taught in schools. Cantonese and Mandarin are prominent as they are spoken by the local majority Chinese population. Another major dialect spoken is Hakka. While Tamil is dominant amongst the local Indian population, other Indian languages spoken include Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi and Punjabi.


Panorama of city with mixture of five- to ten-story buildings
Panorama image taken from observation deck


The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station(right) contrasts with a Keretapi Tanah Melayu(left) Administration Building darker, similarly Moorish-styled building across the road.

The architecture of Kuala Lumpur is a blend of old colonial influences, Asian traditions, Malay Islamic inspirations, modern, and postmodern architecture mix. Being a relatively young city compared with other Southeast Asian capitals such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, most of Kuala Lumpur's colonial buildings were built toward the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings have Moorish, Tudor, Neo-Gothic or Grecian-Spanish style or architecture. Most of the styling has been modified to use local resources and acclimatised to the local climate, which is hot and humid all year around

Prior to the Second World War, many shophouses, usually two stories with functional shops on the ground floor and separate residential spaces upstairs, were built around the old city centre. These shop-houses drew inspiration from Straits Chinese and European traditions. Some of these shophouses have made way for new developments but there are still many standing today around Medan Pasar (Old Market Square), Chinatown, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Doraisamy, Bukit Bintang and Tengkat Tong Shin areas.

Independence coupled with the rapid economic growth from the 1970s to the 1990s and with Islam being the official religion in the country, has resulted in the construction of buildings with a more local and Islamic flavour arise around the city. Many of these buildings derive their design from traditional Malay items such as the songkok and the keris. Some of these buildings have Islamic geometric motifs integrated with the designs of the building, signifying Islamic restriction on imitating nature through drawings. Examples of these buildings are Menara Telekom, Menara Maybank, Dayabumi Complex, and the Islamic Centre. Some buildings such as the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia and National Planetarium have been built to masquerade as a place of worship, complete with dome and minaret, when in fact it is a place of science and knowledge. The 452-metre (1,483 ft) tall Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin buildings in the world. They were designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art.

Late modern and postmodern architecture began to appear in the late-1990s and early-2000s. With the economic development, old buildings such as Bok House have been razed to make way for new ones. Buildings with all-glass shells exist throughout the city, with the most prominent examples being the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. As of. September 2010  Kuala Lumpur's central business district today has shifted around the Kuala Lumpur city centre (KLCC) where many new and tall buildings with modern and postmodern architecture fill the skyline. According to the World Tallest 50 Urban Agglomeration 2010 Projection by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Kuala Lumpur was ranked 10th among cities to have most buildings above 100 meters with a combined height of 34035 meters from its 244 high rise buildings.


Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park

The Lake Gardens, a 92-hectare (230-acre) manicured garden near the Malaysian Parliament building, was once home to a British colonial official. The park includes a Butterfly Park, Deer Park, Orchid Garden, Hibiscus Garden and the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Southeast Asia's largest bird park. Other parks in the city include the ASEAN Sculpture Garden, KLCC Park, Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, Metropolitan Lake Gardens in Kepong, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Taman Tasik Permaisuri (Queen’s Lake Gardens), Bukit Kiara Botanical Gardens, Equestrian Park and West Valley Park near TTDI, and Bukit Jalil International Park.

There are three forest reserves within the city namely the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve in the city centre, the oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country 10.52 ha/26.0 acres, Bukit Sungai Putih Forest Reserve (7.41 ha/18.3 acres) and Bukit Sungai Besi Forest Reserve (42.11 ha/104.1 acres). Bukit Nanas, in the heart of the city centre, is one of the oldest virgin forests in the world within a city. These residual forest areas are home to a number of fauna species particularly monkeys, treeshrews, pygmy goats, budgerigars, squirrels and birds.

There is another park in the close vicinity to Kuala Lumpur i.e. Templer Park initiated and opened by Sir Gerald Templer in 1954 during the "Emergency" time.


According to government statistics, Kuala Lumpur has a literacy rate of 97.5% in 2000, the highest rate in any state or territory in Malaysia. In Malaysia, Malay is the language of instruction for most subjects while English is a compulsory subject and is used as the language of instruction for mathematics and the natural sciences. There are also schools which provide Mandarin and Tamil as languages of instruction for certain subjects.

University of Malaya main gate. The oldest university that established in 1949.

In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are 13 tertiary education institutions, 79 high schools, 155 elementary schools and 136 kindergartens.

There are several notable institutions located in the city which have existed for more than 100 years, such as Bukit Bintang Girls' School (1893–2000, when shifted to Taman Shamelin Perkasa in Cheras and renamed SMK Seri Bintang Utara), Victoria Institution (1893); Methodist Girls' School (1896); Methodist Boys' School (1897); Convent Bukit Nanas (1899) and St. John's Institution (1904).

Kuala Lumpur is home to the University of Malaya. Established in 1949, it is the oldest university in Malaysia, and one of the oldest in the region. It is also the most prestigious tertiary institution in Malaysia, having been ranked first among the universities in Malaysia in the 2004 Times Higher Education (THES) international rankings. In recent years, the number of international students at University of Malaya has risen, a result of increasing efforts made to attract more international students.

Other universities located in Kuala Lumpur include International Islamic University Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman University, UCSI University, International Medical University, Open University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur University, Wawasan Open University and the branch campus of the National University of Malaysia and University of Technology Malaysia. In the metropolitan state of Selangor which surrounds KL to form Greater Kuala Lumpur, there are also various universities, most notably the branch campuses of University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus located in Semenyih and Monash University Malaysia Campus in Sunway. The National Defence University of Malaysia is located at Sungai Besi Army Base, at the southern part of central Kuala Lumpur. It was established to be a major centre for military and defence technology studies. This institution covers studies in the field of army, navy, and air force.



Frieze depicting Malaysian history at the National Museum

Kuala Lumpur is a hub for cultural activities and events in Malaysia. Among the centres is the National Museum which is situated along the Mahameru Highway. Its collection comprises artifacts and paintings collected throughout the country. Kuala Lumpur also has an Islamic Arts Museum which houses more than seven thousand Islamic artefacts including rare exhibits as well as a library of Islamic art books. However, the museum's collection not only concentrate on works from the Middle East, but also includes work from elsewhere in Asia, such as China and Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur has a Cultural Craft Complex coupled with a museum that displays a variety of textile, ceramic, metal craft and weaved products. All the information of the production process are portrayed in diorama format complete with historical facts, technique and traditionally engineered equipment. Among the processes shown are pottery making, intricate wood carving, silver-smithing, weaving songket cloth, stamping batik patterns on cloth and boat making. Royal Selangor has an ultra modern visitor's centre, which allows tours to be conducted through its pewter museum, gallery and its factory. In its pewtersmithing workshop, "The School of Hard Knocks," participants are taught to create their own pewter dish using traditional tools and methods.

The premier performing arts venue is the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. The resident orchestra is the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), consisting of musicians from all over the world and features regular concerts, chamber concerts and traditional cultural performances. The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in Sentul West is one of the most established centres for the performing arts, notably theatre, music, and film screening, in the country. It has housed many local productions and has been a supporter of local and regional independent performance artists. One of the highlights in 2006 was the KL Sing Song 2006 music fest which featured Malaysian singer-songwriters of various cultural backgrounds, from both West and East Malaysia, through two days of performances and workshops.

The National Art Gallery of Malaysia is located on Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak on a 5.67-hectare (14.0-acre) site neighbouring the National Theatre ( Istana Budaya) and National Library. The architecture of the gallery incorporates elements of traditional Malay architecture, as well as contemporary modern architecture. The National Art Gallery serves as a centre of excellence and trustee of the national art heritage. The Petronas Art Gallery, another centre for fine art, is situated in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). The Galeri Tangsi near Dataran Merdeka houses exhibitions of works by local and foreign artists.

Kuala Lumpur holds the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival annually. Another event hosted annually by the city is the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, which includes international brands as well as local designers.

Kuala Lumpur also is becoming the centre for new media, innovation and creative industry development in the region and hosts the international creative industry event, Kreative.Asia. Kreative.Asia gathers local, regional and international experts in the creative industry who are involved in the creation, development and delivery of interactive content, arts, community and applications. Kuala Lumpur is at the forefront of the convergence of media, art, culture and communications.

Sports and recreation

The National Stadium at Bukit Jalil

Kuala Lumpur has numerous parks, gardens and open spaces for recreational purposes. Total open space for recreational and sport facilities land use in the city has increased significantly by 169.6 percent from 5.86 square kilometres (1,450 acres) in 1984 to 15.8 square kilometres (3,900 acres) in 2000.

Kuala Lumpur is one of the host cities for the Formula One World Championship, the open-wheel auto racing A1 Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Grand Prix with races being held at Sepang International Circuit in the neighbouring state of Selangor, next to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Formula One event contributes significantly to tourist arrivals and tourism income to Kuala Lumpur. This was evident during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. Despite cities around Asia suffering declining tourist arrivals, Kuala Lumpur tourist arrivals increased from 6,210,900 in 1997 to 10,221,600 in 2000, or 64.6% increase in tourist arrivals.

Sepang Cicuit.
Formula One race being held at Sepang International Circuit.

KL Grand Prix CSI 5*, a five-star international showjumping equestrian event is held annually in the city. This annual event draws the world’s top riders and their prized horses to Malaysia.

Other annual sport events hosted by the city include the KL Tower Run, the KL Tower International BASE Jump Merdeka Circuit and the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon. Kuala Lumpur is also one of the stages of the Tour de Langkawi cycling race.

The annual Malaysia Open Super Series badminton tournament is held in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur has a considerable array of sports facilities of international class after hosting the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Many of these facilities including the main stadium (with running track and a football field), hockey stadium and swimming pools are located in the National Sports Complex at Bukit Jalil while a velodrome and more swimming pools are located in Bandar Tun Razak, next to the Taman Tasik Permaisuri Lake Gardens. There are also soccer fields, local sports complexes, swimming pools and tennis courts scattered around the suburbs. Badminton and ‘ takraw’ courts are usually included in community halls. The AFC House which is the current headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation is built on a 4-acre (16,000 m2) complex in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Bukit Jalil.

Kuala Lumpur has several golf courses including the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) and the Malaysia Civil Service Golf Club in Kiara and the Berjaya Golf Course at Bukit Jalil. The city also has numerous large private fitness centres run by Celebrity Fitness, Fitness First, True Fitness and major five-star hotels.

Kuala Lumpur is also the birthplace of Hashing which began in December 1938 when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or "Hare and Hounds".

Kuala Lumpur will host the 127th IOC Session in 2015 where the IOC will vote to elect the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics.


The old Moorish-influenced KL train station was completed in 1910.
The busy Jalan Ampang at night leading straight to the Petronas Towers
Citybus Scania operated by Rapid KL.

Unlike most other Asian cities, driving is the main mode of commuting in Kuala Lumpur. Hence, every part of the city is well connected by highways. As capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has a comprehensive road network that leads to the rest of Peninsular Malaysia.

In terms of air connectivity, Kuala Lumpur is served by two airports. The main airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang, Selangor, which is also the aviation hub of Malaysia, is located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of city. The other airport is Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, also known as Subang Skypark and served as the main international gateway to Kuala Lumpur from 1965 until KLIA opened in 1998. KLIA connects the city with direct flights to destinations in six continents around the world, and is the main hub for the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines and low-cost carrier, AirAsia. KLIA can be reached using the KLIA Ekspres high-speed train service from KL Sentral which takes twenty-eight minutes, while travelling by car or bus via highway will take about an hour. Air Asia flights do not fly out of KLIA main terminal but from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), which is served by buses from KL Sentral, and is a 20–30 minute taxi ride from the main terminal. As of 2007, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport is only used for chartered and turboprop flights by airlines such as Firefly and Berjaya Air.

Platform of the KLCC LRT station along the Kelana Jaya Line (Putra LRT) in Kuala Lumpur
KL Sentral at night

Public transport in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the Klang Valley covers a variety of transport modes such as bus, rail and taxi. Despite efforts to promote usage of public transportation, utilisation rates are low as only 16 percent of the population used public transportation in 2006. Rail transport in Kuala Lumpur encompasses light rail, rapid transit, monorail and commuter rail. Kuala Lumpur is served by three separate rail systems which meet in the city and extend towards other parts of the Klang Valley, namely RapidKL Light Rail Transit, KL Monorail, and KTM Komuter. These lines have underground, elevated or at-grade stations around the city. The main rapid transit hub is KL Sentral which facilitates as an interchange station for the rail systems. KL Sentral is also a hub for intercity railway operated by KTM Intercity. It provides rail services to as far as Singapore in the south, and Hat Yai, Thailand, in the north.

The largest public transportation operator in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley is RapidKL. Since the take over from Intrakota Komposit Sdn Bhd, RapidKL has redrawn the entire bus network of Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley metropolitan area to increase ridership and improve Kuala Lumpur's public transportation system. The management of RapidKL has adopted the hub and spoke system to provide greater connectivity, and cut down the need of more buses. RapidKL is also the operator of two light rail lines in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, namely Ampang Line and Kelana Jaya Line. By 2016, the Sungai Buloh – Kajang Line will be completed providing a faster efficient ride to the city centre.

In Kuala Lumpur, most taxis have distinctive white and red liveries. Kuala Lumpur is one of the major ASEAN city with taxis extensively running on natural gas. Taxis can be hailed from taxi stands or from the streets. Nevertheless, taxis are known to charge high rates for foreigners.

Kuala Lumpur is served by Port Klang, located about 64 km (40 mi) southwest of the city. The port is the largest and busiest in the country handling about 6.3 million  twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of cargo in 2006.

International relations

Isfahan street in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has established formal twinning arrangements and diplomatic partnerships with several cities around the world.

Country City Partnership status Citation(s)
 India Chennai Sister City
 India Delhi Sister city
 Iran Isfahan Sister city
 Iran Mashhad Sister city
 Japan Osaka Business partner city
 Malaysia Malacca Town Sister city
 Morocco Casablanca Sister city
 Turkey Ankara Sister city
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