Terengganu – is a sultanate and constitutive state of federal Malaysia

Terengganu (Malay pronunciation: [tərəŋganu]; Jawi:ترڠڬانو, Terengganu Malay: Tranung, Ganu, Teganu, Ganung, Teganung), formerly spelled Trengganu or Tringganu, is a sultanate and constitutive state of federal Malaysia. The state is also known by its Arabic honorific, Dāru l-Īmān (“Abode of Faith”). The coastal city of Kuala Terengganu which stands at the mouth of the broad Terengganu River is both the state and royal capital as well as the largest city in Terengganu. There are many islands located close to the coast of Terengganu state, such as Redang Island.


There are several theories on the origin of the name “Terengganu”. One theory attributes the name’s origin to terang ganu, Malay for ‘bright rainbow’. Another story, said to have been originally narrated by the ninth Sultan of Terengganu, Baginda Omar, tells of a party of hunters from Pahang roving and hunting in the area of what is now southern Terengganu. One of the hunters spotted a big animal fang lying on the ground. A fellow party member asked to which animal did the fang belong. The hunter, not knowing which animal, simply answered taring anu (Malay: ‘fang of something’). The party later returned to Pahang with a rich hoard of game, fur and sandalwood, which impressed their neighbours. They asked the hunters where did they source their riches, to which they replied, from the land of taring anu, which later evolved into Terengganu. Terengganu was called Trangkanu (Thai: ตรังกานู) by the Siamese when it was under their influence. Terengganuans usually pronounce Terengganu as Tranung or Ganu.


 The Terengganu Inscription Stone. The Jawi alphabet inscriptions are of local laws influenced by Sharia and thus one of the earliest proof of Islamic influence in Malaysia

Terengganu’s location by the South China Sea ensured that it was on trade routes since ancient times. The earliest written reports on the area that is now Terengganu were by Chinese merchants and seafarers in the early 6th century A.D. Like other Malay states, Terengganu practised a Hindu–Buddhist culture combined with animist traditional beliefs for hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam. Under the influence of Srivijaya, Terengganu traded extensively with the Majapahit Empire, the Khmer Empire and especially the Chinese.

Terengganu was the first Malay state to receive Islam, as attested to by the Terengganu Inscription Stone with Arabic inscriptions found in Kuala Berang, the capital of the district of Hulu Terengganu. The inscribed date which is incomplete due to damage can be read as various dates from 702 to 789 AH (1303 to 1387 CE). Terengganu became a vassal state of Malacca, but retained considerable autonomy with the emergence of Johor Sultanate.

Terengganu emerged as an independent sultanate in 1724. The first sultan was Tun Zainal Abidin, the younger brother of a former sultan of Johor, and Johor strongly influenced Terengganu politics through the 18th century. However, in the book Tuhfat al-Nafis, the author, Raja Ali Haji, mentions that in the year 1708, Tun Zainal Abidin was installed as the Sultan of Terengganu by Daeng Menampuk – also known as Raja Tua – under the rule of Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah.

In the 19th century, Terengganu became a vassal state of the Thai Rattanakosin Kingdom, and sent tribute every year called bunga mas. Under Thai rule, Terengganu prospered, and was largely left alone by the authorities in Bangkok. The period also witnessed the existence of a Terengganuan Vassal of Besut Darul Iman.

The terms of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 saw power over Terengganu transferred from Siam to Great Britain. A British advisor was appointed to the sultan in 1919, and Terengganu become one of the Unfederated Malay States. The move was highly unpopular locally, and in 1928 the British used military force to suppress a popular uprising.

During World War II, Japan occupied Terengganu and transferred sovereignty over the state back to Siam, which had been renamed Thailand in 1939, along with Kelantan, Kedah, and Perlis. After the defeat of Japan, British control over these Malay states was reestablished. Terengganu became a member of the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and a state of independent Malaya in 1957.

Following decades of rule by the Barisan Nasional coalition, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) came to power in 1999, making Terengganu the second state in Malaysia to be ruled by the Islamist party (the first being neighbouring Kelantan).Terengganu was recapture and continue to ruled by the Barisan Nasional since 2004 until 2018.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed


Dato' is a traditional Malay honorific title commonly used in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Its variant is Datuk.