George Town was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company, as base for the company in the Malay States. He rented the island of Penang from the sultan of Kedah and built Fort Cornwallis on the northeastern corner of the island. The fort became the nexus of a growing trading post and the island's population reached to 12,000 by 1804.
Due to strict rent controls, George Town retains many colonial-era shophouses to this day and is often considered an architectural gem. Most of George Town's population is of Chinese origin.
See also List of cities in Malaysia