02 October 2009


A Line that Brought Prosperity to the Jungle

THE lines of the Federated Malay States, Straits Settlements, and Johore State Railways have a special interest of their own. They have played a major part in the opening up of a valuable part of the British Empire which, not long ago, was the stronghold of pirates and warrior tribes. The modern history of the country is, in itself, a romance, due to the enterprise of British pioneers and scientists. British Malaya is not "a white man's country," but because of the enterprise, knowledge, and applied science of the white man it has become of vital importance in the history of modern transport.

British Malaya is a peninsula extending from Singapore, which is a degree and a quarter north of the equator, to the borders of Siam, nearly seven degrees north. With Sumatra on its west and Borneo on its east, it consists of a narrow tongue of land, 464 miles long, and nowhere more than 216 miles broad, forming the most southerly extremity of the continent of Asia. The surface is mountainous, the highest peak being Gunong Tahan, 7,186 ft. ; the longest rives is the Pahang, upwards of 330 miles in length. Except in the areas which have been mined or cultivated, a tropical forest covers the whole country, including the hills.

The country is divided up between the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, and the Unfederated Malay States. There are four Straits Settlements—Singapore, Penang, and their dependencies, and Malacca and Labuan (an island off the coast of Borneo). The Federated Malay States, comprising Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang, are sovereign sultanates in treaty relations with the British Government. They are administered under the advice of a Chief Secretary, subject to the control of the Governor of the Straits Settlements in his capacity as High Commissioner. The Unfederated Malay States of Johore, Kedah. Perils, Kelantan and Trengganu, are also in treaty relations with Great Britain, but they are outside the federation.

Areas and populations are : Straits Settlements, 1,508 square miles, and 1,038,800 ; Federated Malay States, 27,506 square miles and 1,597,800 ; Unfederated Malay States, 23,486 square miles and 1,550,300. The total area—52,500 square miles—is slightly larger than that of England without Wales.

Read More at http://mikes.railhistory.railfan.net/r178.html

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