Pahang (Malay pronunciation: [paˈhaŋ]; Jawi: ڤهڠ), officially Pahang Darul Makmur with the Arabic honorific Darul Makmur (Jawi: دار المعمور, “The Abode of Tranquility”) is a sultanate and a federal state of Malaysia. With an area of 35,840 square kilometres, it is the third largest Malaysian state and the largest in Peninsular Malaysia. Its territory comprises roughly 11% of the total land area of Malaysia. With 1.63 million inhabitants, it is Malaysia’s ninth most-populous state. Pahang’s capital and largest city, Kuantan, is the eight largest urban agglomerations by population in Malaysia.
The state occupies the Pahang River basin. It is bordered to the north by Kelantan, to the west by Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, to the south by Johor and to the east by Terengganu and the South China Sea. The royal capital and the official seat of the Sultan of Pahang is located at Pekan. Other major towns include Temerloh, Bentong and its hills resorts of Genting Highlands and Bukit Tinggi. The other important districts are Jerantut, Kuala Lipis, and the hill resorts of Cameron Highlands and Fraser’s Hill in Raub.
The Old Pahang Kingdom dates back to the 5th century. In the 15th century, the Pahang Sultanate became an autonomous kingdom within the Melaka Sultanate. Pahang entered into a dynastic union with Johor Empire in the early 17th century and later emerged as an autonomous kingdom in the late 18th century. It was eventually restored as a Sultanate in 1881 and later became a British protectorate in 1895. After the Second World War, it re-organised itself as one of the federal states of Malaya.
Modern Pahang is an economically important state with main activities in services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. As part of ECER, it is a key region for the manufacturing sector, with the local logistics support network serving as a hub for the entire east coast region of Peninsular Malaysia.
Pahang Sultanate 1470–1623
Old Johor Sultanate 1623–1770
Pahang Kingdom 1770–1881
Federated Malay States 1895–1941
Empire of Japan 1942–1945
Malayan Union 1946–1948
Federation of Malaya 1948–1963
Archaeological evidences revealed the existence of human habitation in the area that is today Pahang from as early as the paleolithic age. At Gunung Senyum have been found relics of mesolithic civilisation using pleolithic implements. At Sungai Lembing, Kuantan, have been discovered paleolithic artefacts chipped and without trace of polishing, the remains of a 6,000 years old civilisation. Traces of Hoabinhian culture is represented by a number of limestone cave sites. Late neolithic relics are abundant, including polished tools, quoit discs, stone ear pendants, stone bracelets and cross-hatched bark pounders. By around 400 BC, the development of bronze casting led to the flourishing of the Đông Sơn culture, notably for its elaborate bronze war drums.
The early iron civilisation in Pahang that began around the beginning of Common Era is associated by prehistorians with the late neolithic culture. Relics from this era, found along the rivers are particularly numerous in Tembeling Valley, which served as the old main northern highway of communication. Ancient gold workings in Pahang are thought to date back to this early iron age as well.
The Kra Isthmus region of the Malay peninsula and its peripheries are recognised by historians as the cradle of Malayic civilisations. Primordial Malayic kingdoms are described as tributaries to Funan by the 2nd century Chinese sources. Ancient settlements in Pahang can be traced from Tembeling to as far south as Merchong. Their tracks can also be found in deep hinterland of Jelai, along the Chini Lake, and up to the head-waters of the Rompin. One such settlement was identified as Koli in Geographia or Kiu-Li, centred on the estuary of Pahang River south of Langkasuka, that flourished in the 3rd Century CE. It possessed an important international port, where many foreign ships stopped to barter and resupply. In common with most of the states in the Malay Peninsula during that time, Kiu-Li was in contact with Funan. The Chinese records mention that an embassy sent to Funan by the Indian King Murunda sailed from Kiu-Li’s port (between 240-245 CE). Murunda presented tot the Funanese King Fan Chang four horses from the Yuetshi (Kushan) stud farms.
By the middle of the 5th century, a polity suggestive as ancient Pahang, was described in the Book of Song as Pohuang or Panhuang (婆皇). The king of Pohuang, She-li- Po-luo-ba-mo (‘Sri Bhadravarman’) was recorded to have sent an envoy to the Liu Song court in 449-450. In 456-457, another envoy of the same country arrived at the Chinese capital, Jiankang. This ancient Pahang is believed to had been established later as a mueang to the mandala of Langkasuka-Kedah centred in modern-day Patani region that rose to prominence with the regression of Funan from the 6th century. By the beginning of the 8th century, Langkasuka-Kedah was in turn came under the military and political hegemony of Srivijaya. In the 11th century, the power vacuum left by the collapse of Srivijaya was filled by the rise of Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom, commonly known in Malay tradition as ‘Ligor’. During this period, Pahang, designated as Muaeng Pahang was established as one of the twelve naksat city states of Ligor.
In the 14th century, Pahang began consolidating its influence in the southern part of the Malay peninsula. The kingdom, described by Portuguese historian, Manuel Godinho de Erédia as Pam, was one of the two kingdoms of Malayos in the peninsula, in succession to Pattani, that flourished before the establishment of Melaka. The Pahang ruler then, titled Maharaja, was also the overlord of countries of Ujong Tanah (‘land’s end’), the southerly part of the peninsula including Temasek. The Majapahit chronicle, Nagarakretagama even used the name Pahang to designate the Malay peninsula, an indication of the importance of this kingdom. The History of Ming records several envoy missions from Pahang to the Ming court in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the year 1378, Maharaja Tajau sent envoys with a letter on a gold leaf and bringing as tribute six foreign slaves and products of the country. In the year 1411, during the reign of Maharaja Pa-la-mi-so-la-ta-lo-si-ni (transliterated by historian as ‘Parameswara Teluk Chini’), he also sent envoys carrying tributes.