The administrative centre of the state of Pahang was officially relocated to Kuantan on 27 August 1955 from Kuala Lipis and was officiated by HRH Sultan Abu Bakar Ri'ayatuddin Al Muadzam Shah, the Sultan of Pahang.
The National Physical Plan 2005 identified Kuantan as one of the future growth centres and a hub for trade, commerce, transportation and tourism. Kuantan is considered the social, economic and commercial hub for the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, due to its strategic location. Rapid development has transformed and modernised Kuantan. The recent introduction of Malaysia's first Special Economic Zone at Kuantan is designed to boost the regional economy, tourism and growth.
Kuantan in the first century was a part of Chih-Tu empire. In the 11th century, this piece of land was conquered by another small empire called Pheng-Kheng before being taken over by the Siamese during the 12th century. During the 15th century, Kuantan was ruled by the Malacca Empire.
Kuantan is said to have been founded in the 1850s. The word "Kuantan" was mentioned by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir (Munshi Abdullah) circa 1851/2 as below:
...On Thursday night came a boat from Kuantan. Then they told the ship's crew there's a pirate ship at Tanjung Tujuh, forty of them and at Pulau Kapas, and as well at Pulau Redang; it was spotted by two Kuantan boats and they set off...
In its early days, it was known as Kampung Teruntum (Teruntum Village). The village was situated at the mouth of Teruntum River which is in front of the current hospital and it was established by Haji Senik and his followers in the 1850s. Early primary economic activities included fishing and small businesses. The main evidence of the establishment of the village is the cemetery that is situated near Taman Esplanade in front of the current Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan.
Towards the late 19th century, arrival of Chinese miners and traders saw the establishment of a township in Kuantan and nearby tin mining areas such as Gambang and Sungai Lembing. Similar to what occurred in other states in Peninsular Malaysia, rubber plantations attracted Indian settlers as well.
The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse took place off the coast of Kuantan on 10 December 1941.
The Pahang state government shifted the administrative centre of Pahang from Kuala Lipis to Kuantan in 1955.
Kuantan District is divided into 6 mukims, which are:
The urban area of Kuantan city is located mostly in the mukims of Kuala Kuantan and Beserah.
Kuantan will see many new developments including:
Kuantan features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification. Usually, the area experiences two seasons per year, i.e., the "Dry" and Hot season and the Rainy season. The "Dry" and Hot Season (a relative term as the city does not truly have a dry season) occurs when seasonal south-west winds blow from Sumatra toward the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia but are blocked by the Titiwangsa Mountain Range. The temperature may reach 40 degrees Celsius. The Rainy season usually occurs between October to March. During this season, the north-east winds bring rain to Kuantan. It can get very cloudy with a large amount of rainfall. Floods may also occur. Areas subject to possible flooding include the road to Sungai Lembing and also a few areas along the Kuantan River.
In 2006, Kuantan experienced significant air pollution that affected visibility because of the haze blowing in from Sumatra and the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Kuantan's population is approximately 427,515. The population is composed of 78.5% Malay, 17.9% Chinese, 3.3% Indian and 0.3% other races. According to the World Gazetteer, a calculation indicates that the annual population growth of Kuantan is the greatest among the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which is 3.88 in general.
The following is based on Department of Statistics Malaysia 2010 census.
One of its major economic activities is tourism. Domestically, it is famous for the production of handicrafts, batik, keropok (dried fish crackers) and salted fish. Kuantan serves as the administrative and commercial capital of Pahang. Trade and commerce are important in the economy of the town. The timber industry, ice cream and the fishing industry also play major roles in the local economy.
There are petrochemical industries, mostly in Gebeng, an industrial area about 25 km north of Kuantan. Among the major companies operating in Kuantan are BASF PETRONAS Chemicals, MTBE/Polypropylene (M) Sdn Bhd, BP Chemicals, MTBE, Flexsys, Bredero Shaw Eastman Chemical, Kaneka, Polyplastics, Mieco, KNM, JiKang, W.R. Grace, Cryovac, Wasco Pipeline Coatings, AMC, etc.
Kuantan is being identified as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The launch of SEZ in 2009 by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is one of the first of its kind in Malaysia. The SEZ is located inside East Coast Economic Region (ECER) of Greater Kuantan which stretches from the district of Kertih, Terengganu to the district of Pekan, Pahang. It is now one of the largest SEZs in Asia, covering 390,000 hectares. ECER SEZ serves as a catalyst to fast-track the economic development in the east coast. ECER SEZ aims to generate RM90 billion of investments and provide over 90,000 new jobs by 2020. At the centre of southeast Asia with four seaports (Kuantan Port as the main gateway) and two airports, ECER SEZ will serve good transportation link between Indochina, India and China.
The development master plan will offer special incentives to attract investors. Include tax exemptions, import and export duties exemptions and 100 per cent investment tax allowance.
Kuantan's main sightseeing attraction is the beach at Teluk Cempedak. There are scenic beaches popular among vacationers in the city's vicinity, such as Batu Hitam, Balok, Chenor, Pantai Sepat, Beserah, and Cherating. Near Cherating (Club Med is located here) there are turtle sanctuaries. A few kilometres away from Cherating is Pulau Ular (Snake Island). There is a legend connected with this island.
Kuantan is known to tourists for its waterfalls. The most well-known is the Sungai Pandan Waterfall. Two others are the Sungai Berkelah Waterfall and the Jerangkang Waterfall.
There are four parks in the city, the Gelora Park, Teruntum Mini Zoo, Gambang Safari Park and Agriculture Park at Indera Mahkota. A small park across the main road (and next to the river) in front of the Hospital is named the Esplanade Park or Downtown Kuantan. Here, it is possible to go on a river cruise from the small jetty. The Kuantan area also produces handicrafts and batik. Other tourist attractions include the State Mosque (Masjid Negeri).
Sungai Lembing is located about 26 km northwest of Kuantan. It used to contain the world's deepest underground tin mines. There is an interesting Tin Museum in the former mining town of Sungai Lembing. Just north of the Tin Museum is a "hanging bridge" (jambatan bergantung). Access is via a narrow, winding road at the base of the entrance to the Tin Museum. There is another hanging bridge on the outskirts of Sungai Lembing town (visible from the main road, on the right side). There is a Panorama Hill which provides an impressive pre-dawn view. On the Kuantan-Sungai Lembing road at the hamlet of Pancing, there is a limestone mountain which houses a large reclining Buddha in one of its caves, Charah Cave. The highest peak, Gunung Tapis, also can be accessed from here.
Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) is one of the largest water theme park resorts in Malaysia, spanning 547 acres and offering a 17.1-acre lake, and a 24,000 square feet wave pool. Bukit Gambang Safari Park, the biggest safari in east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The 5-star hotels in Kuantan are The Zenith Hotel and Mangala Resort and Spa, while the 4-star hotels include Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort, Swiss-Garden Beach Resort, Vistana Hotel Kuantan, MS Garden Hotel, Samsuria Beach Resort & Residence and The Legend Resort.
Main shopping malls in Kuantan:
Other shopping complexes are Kuantan Plaza and the Pasar Besar. There are also many supermarkets from the local retailers that spread over the municipality of Kuantan.
Kuantan is famous among locals and tourists for its delicious fish crackers (called keropok in Malay) and salted fish, where the fish are marinated mainly with salt and left out to dry in the sun for days and sold at the market, Serambi Teruntum in Tanjung Lumpur. Fresh grilled fish or "ikan bakar" can be purchased at Tanjung Lumpur and Beserah area mostly located near fishermen's village.
Many types of local food can be found at the town centre.
Very popular and sold by street vendors (especially at the night markets) are varieties of satay which consists of grilled meat on a stick which is dipped into peanut sauce and roti canai, a thick chapati-like bread dipped in a unique curry style sauce.
Typical ethnic Indian dishes include the naan and tandoori chicken.
Kuantan is connected to Kuala Lumpur via the East Coast Expressway and Karak Expressway. Kuantan is now more accessible by road transportation than before, primarily because of the opening of East Coast Expressway. The East Coast Expressway, which begins in Gombak, Selangor and ends near Kuala Terengganu, also links Kuantan to other major towns in Pahang.
Besides Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu, the other two capitals of the east coast, the scenic coastal road (highway ) also runs southward through Pekan, Kuala Rompin, Mersing before terminating in Johor Bahru just before the interchange to Singapore. This route winds through verdant forests and small coastal towns, and a stretch of beautiful quiet beaches at Rompin and Lanjut. Alternatively, Tun Razak Highway that runs from the town of Segamat, Johor to Gambang and proceeding to Gambang-Kuantan Highway also connects Kuantan with Johor Bahru.
Kuantan Bypass is a highway that runs from Kuantan Port to Kuantan Airport. Interchange are available at Bandar Indera Mahkota, Bandar Damansara Kuantan, East Coast Expressway, Jerangau Highway, Semambu and major roads.
Alternatively, express buses to Kuantan depart from Kuala Lumpur. Tickets for these buses are available from Hentian Pekeliling or Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) in Kuala Lumpur. These express buses will stop at the Terminal Kuantan Sentral at Bandar Indera Mahkota. There's local bus services stationed at the bus stop in Kuantan General Market near the Darul Makmur Stadium. This station provides services to Cherating, Pekan and nearby destinations.
Kuantan city has improved its public transportation system. RapidKuantan buses are accessible to most places in Kuantan even from Pekan, the neighbouring town and from Kemaman in Terengganu. The main stop centre of RapidKuantan is near the General Market (Pasar Besar) and the Darul Makmur Stadium.
Kuantan is served by Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport. This is the only airport in Pahang State that is controlled by Malaysia Airport Bhd. Currently, the airlines that fly to Kuantan: Malaysia Airline System (MAS), Firefly, Malindo and China Airlines. Firefly has scheduled direct flights to Singapore and Penang. In 2009, the airport handled 226,912 passengers on 3,110 flights, though the airport is able to handle over one million passengers annually. In 2008, Taiwan and Tourism Malaysia had co-operated that there were 23 charter flights directly from Taipei to Kuantan Airport, this condition had made Kuantan Sultan Ahmad Shah Airport the first airport in East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia that received international flights. Passengers have to walk from the plane to the arrival hall.
Planes from Kuantan fly directly to KLIA, Subang Airport, Singapore Changi Airport and Penang International Airport. Seasonal flights to Taipei are operated by China Airlines.
The same runway is used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force, which operates MIG-29s from the nearby Kuantan Royal Malaysian Air Force base.
Kuantan Port, an all-weather port is a multi-cargo seaport facing South China Sea. New Deep Water Terminal (NDWT) is currently being developed adjacent to the port. Upon completion, Kuantan Port is envisaged to be the main gateway to China and the Far East.
Medical needs are served by several hospitals and clinics. The main hospital is Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital, which is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as a CT scanner and MRI.
In Indera Mahkota, there are the International Islamic University Medical Center International Islamic University Malaysia and the Kuantan Medical Centre.
There are several private medical centres operate in town: KPJ Pahang Specialist Hospital, Hospital Pakar PRK Muip, KCDC Hospital and Darul Makmur Medical Center.
A Community Health Centre serves suburbs such as Beserah, while smaller clinics are in smaller suburbs such as Bandar Indera Mahkota.
There are many institutes of higher learning in Kuantan. They are categorised as Institut Pengajian Tinggi Awam (IPTA); public university or Institut Pengajian Tinggi Swasta (IPTS); private university. One of the public institutes in Kuantan is Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Polytechnic (POLISAS). Established in 1976, the second oldest polytechnic in Malaysia and the first institutes in Kuantan. POLISAS is able to accommodate 7,800 students. Sitting on 105 hectare site, POLISAS is one of the largest polytechnics in Malaysia with academic departments of Engineering (Civil, Land Surveying, Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, Computer), Information Technology, Secretarial, Accounting, Food Technology and Data Processing.
The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), which is a branch from the main campus in Gombak. There are two IIUM campuses in Kuantan. The Jalan Hospital campus (JHC) campus that opened on year 1997 and the 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) Indera Mahkota campus on year 2004. IIUM Kuantan focuses on medical related degree programmes offered through several faculties or Kulliyyahs such as: Kulliyyah of Medicine, Kulliyyah of Pharmacy, Kulliyyah of Allied Health Sciences (Radiography, Optometry, Dietetics, Audiology, Physiology and Biomedical Science), Kulliyyah of Nursing, and Kulliyyah of Science (Biotechnology, Computational and Theoritical Sciences (CTS), Applied Chemistry, Physics, Marine Science, Plant Science, and Applied Plant Science), Kulliyyah of Dentistry.
The Jalan Hospital campus (JHC) campus houses the notable IIUM Breast Centre, a centre devoted to the research and diagnosis of breast cancer.
Kolej Komuniti Kuantan was founded in 2001 and currently operating at a permanent campus in Bandar Indera Mahkota.
The Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) was founded in 2002 and located in Gambang. UMP offers undergraduates and postgraduates education mainly in engineering and technical fields through its 7 faculties and centre. UMP has a newly built main campus in Pekan.
Secondary school (high school) education is provided by Sekolah Kebangsaan (National School) (e.g., Tengku Panglima Perang Tengku Muhammad (SMKTPPTM) Primary and Secondary school), Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (National-type School) Chinese primary schools and Religious schools (e.g., SMA Al-Ihsan). All follow the syllabus and curriculum provided and regulated by the Malaysian Ministry of Education (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia).
Alternatives to national education are provided by international schools which do not follow the Malaysian education curriculum. These include the Garden International School (preschool to grade 6) and the International School of Kuantan (grades 6 to 12).