Perlis, also known by its honorific title Perlis Indera Kayangan (Jawi: ڤرليس ايندرا كايڠن), is the smallest state in Malaysia. It lies at the northern part of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and has the Satun and Songkhla Provinces of Thailand on its northern border. It is bordered by the state of Kedah to the south. It was called Palit (Thai: ปะลิส) by the Siamese when it was under their influence. Perlis had a population of 227,025 as of 2010.
The capital of Perlis is Kangar, and the Royal capital is Arau. Another important town is Padang Besar, at the Malaysia–Thailand border and Kuala Perlis, the ferry town to Langkawi. The main port and ferry terminal is at the small village of Kuala Perlis, linking mostly to Langkawi Island. Perlis has a famous snake farm and research centre at Sungai Batu Pahat. Among the main tourist attractions are Perlis State Park and Gua Kelam.
Perlis currently has an island within its waters, Pulau Batu Layang near Perlis Power Plant, Kuala Sungai Bharu. Historically, Perlis owned another island, Pulau Brasmana just approximately 10km from Kuala Perlis. The island’s name is the origin name for Putra Brasmana Hotel. However, the island is now under Thailand administration and known as Ko Pratmana. The reason for this change is still unknown.
Sultan Dhiauddin then made Syed Harun Jamalullail, father of the future first Raja of Perlis as chieftain of Arau as a wedding gift to his marriage with his daughter, Tengku Sofiah. Syed Harun’s descendant will eventually become deputy governor (1839) and King of Perlis.
After the Siamese conquered Kedah in 1821, the British felt their interests in Perak to be threatened. This resulted in the 1826 Burney and Low Treaties formalising relations between the two Malay states and Siam, their nominal overlord. In the Burney Treaty, the exiled Kedah sultan Ahmad Tajuddin was not restored to his throne. Sultan Ahmad and his armed supporters then fought in a series of war known as Perang Musuh Bisik for his restoration over twelve years (1830–1842).
In 1842, the Sultan finally agreed to accept Siamese terms and was restored to his throne of Kedah. However, Siam separated Perlis into a separate principality directly vassal to Bangkok. The Siamese made Raja Long Krok as the Governor of Siam in Perlis while Syed (or Sayyid) Hussain Jamalullail as deputy governor. Finally, on 20 May 1843, the Siamese made Sayyid Hussain Jamalulail, the paternal grandson of a Hadhrami Arab Sayyid immigrant and maternal grandson of the Sultan of Kedah, became the first Raja of Perlis. This made Perlis as a sovereign state. His descendants still rule Perlis, but as rajas, instead of as sultans.
In 1897, Kedah led by its Prime Minister, Wan Mat Saman started effort to end the sovereignty of Perlis as what had become to the Kingdom of Kubang Pasu, which was returned to Kedah crown. After several tense occasions and disputes, Siamese King Chulalongkorn sided to Perlis. Perlis also had several disputes with the state of Setul before 1900s.
As with Kedah, the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 forced Siam to relinquish its southern Malay vassal states of Kelantan, Trengganu, and Monthon Syburi (comprising Kedah, Perlis, and Satun which remained with Thailand) to Great Britain. The British installed a Resident in the Perlis Royal capital of Arau. Perlis was returned to Siam in World War II as a reward for Siam’s alliance with Japan, but this brief annexation ended with the Japanese surrender. After World War II, Perlis returned to British rule until it became part of the Malayan Union, then the Federation of Malaya in 1957 and lastly the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
Since 2000, the Raja or hereditary monarch has been Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin. He was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia from 13 December 2001 to 12 December 2006. Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra was the Regent of Perlis during the five-year period when Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin was Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Chief Executive or Menteri Besar is Azlan Man of Barisan Nasional.
The Coat of Arms of Perlis consists of a sturdy green wreath of padi, indicating the wealth of the kingdom and the chief economic activity of the people.
The shield in the centre represents the pride of the people. Inside the shield is a ring of golden rice surrounding the name “Perlis” written in the Jawi script.