Penang is a state of Malaysia located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Strait of Malacca. It comprises two parts – Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located, and Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley in English) on the Malay Peninsula. The state of Penang is bordered by Kedah to the north and east, and Perak to the south. Highly urbanised and industrialised, Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the country, and is a thriving tourist destination. George Town, which was founded by the British in 1786, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Penang has the third-highest Human Development Index in Malaysia, after the state of Selangor and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur. Its heterogeneous population is highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language and religion. A resident of Penang is colloquially known as a Penangite (in English), Penangkaran (In Penang Tamil or a Penang Lang (in Penang Hokkien).
Visited by Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Noël Coward and Queen Elizabeth II among many others, Penang has always been a popular tourist destination, both domestically and internationally. In 2009, Penang attracted 5.96 million tourists, ranking third in tourist arrivals in Malaysia. Penang is known for its rich heritage, multicultural society and its vibrant culture, its hills, parks, and beaches, shopping, and good food. There are a variety of accommodation options from guest houses and budget hotels to four- and five-star hotels. For staying at a room for one night, guests are required to pay a bed tax around RM2 to RM3. Penang has been ranked by Yahoo! Travel as one of the "10 Islands to Explore before You Die" and listed in Patricia Schultz's best-selling 1,000 Places to See before You Die travel book.