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كلنتن دار النّعيم Kelantan Darul Naim
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State Flag Coat of Arms
State Motto:
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Map showing Kelantan in

Capital Kota Bharu
Sultan Tuanku Ismail ibni al-Marhum Sultan Yahya Petra
Chief minister Tuan Guru Dato' Haji Nik Aziz Nik Mat
Area 14,922 km²

1.4 million people comprising of 95% Malay, 3% Thai, 1.9% Chinese, 0.1% Others

State anthem

Lanjutkan usia Al-Sultan kami, Sultan Kelantan Raja ikrami, Aman Sentosa Tuhan sirami, Kekal memerintah kami, Kasih dan taat setia disembahkan, Keriangan diucapkan, Segala kebesaran Allah cucurkan, Bertambah kemuliaan.

Kelantan (Jawi: كلنتن) is one of the states in Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim, ("The Beautiful Abode").

The Cradle of Malay Culture, Kelantan offers a delightful profusion of colourful traditions, charm and scenic beauty. Located in the north-eastern corner of the peninsula, Kelantan, which translates as the "Land of Lightning" is an agrarian state with lush padi fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Nature-based activities range from simple river cruises, rafting, and bird watching to jungle trekking. Caving, a goldmine, and deer park, ethno-botanical garden and aboriginal settlements are also in Kelantan.

Kelantan is positioned in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Thailand to the north, Terengganu to the south-east, Perak to the west, and Pahang to the south. The east of Kelantan is the South China Sea.

With the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) in power for many years, Kelantan is also Malaysia's most socially conservative state.



The name Kelantan is said to be a corruption of gelam hutan, i.e. the Malay name for the cajuput, or swamp tea tree (Melaleuca leucadendron). Other theories claim the name comes from the Malay word kilatan, 'shiny/glittery' or kolam tanah, 'clay pool'.

The early history of Kelantan is rather obscure, but archaelogial finds indicate traces of human settlement dating to prehistoric times. Early Kelantan had links to the Funan Kingdom, the Khmer Empire, Srivijaya and Siam. Around 1411, Raja Kumar, the ruler of Kelantan, became independent of Siam and Kelantan became an important centre of trade by the end of the 15th century. In 1499, Kelantan became a vassal state of the Malacca Sultanate. With the fall of Malacca in 1511, Kelantan was divided up and ruled by petty chieftains. With the conquest by Siam in 1603, most of these petty Kelantan chiefs became subject to Patani. Around 1760, a petty chieftain of Kubang Labu in Kelantan succeeded in unifying the territory of the present Kelantan. Soon after in 1764, Long Yunos seized the throne and proclaimed himself Raja of Kelantan. With his death, Kelantan came under the influence of neighboring Terengganu.

In 1800, Raja Muhammad declared himself as the first Sultan of Kelantan. In 1812, he broke from Terengganu's influence and became a separate tributary state of Siam. In the 1820s, Kelantan was one of the most populous and prosperous states in the Malay Peninsula, having avoided the wars and disputes which plagued the southern and western states. Siam continued to play an important role in Kelantan throughout the 19th century.

Under the terms of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, Siam surrendered its claims over Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis to Great Britain, and Kelantan thus became one of the Unfederated Malay States with a British Resident.

Kelantan was the first place in Malaya to be occupied by the Japanese, who invaded on December 8, 1941. During the Japanese occupation, Kelantan came again under control of Siam, but after the defeat of Japan in August 1945, Kelantan reverted to British rule.

Kelantan became part of the Federation of Malaya on February 1, 1948 and together with other states attained independence on August 31, 1957. On September 16, 1963, Kelantan became one of the component states of Malaysia.


Rising high on the slopes of Gunung Korbu, the second highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia, the Nengiri River flows east to merge first with the Galas, and then with the Lebir; the latter born in the wilds of Taman Negara National Park; before turning decisively northwards and emptying into the shallow waters of the South China Sea. From Kuala Kerai the conjoined streams become the Sungai Kelantan, a broad, mud-coloured stream which dominates the fertile coastal plains and defines the geography of the region. This is Kelantan River valley is a fertile rice-bowl, rich in hardwoods and rubber, lush with tropical fruits.

For centuries, Kelantan was all but separated from the rest of the country by the Main Range, a series of mountains running from north to south through the peninsula. Weeks of hard travel were required to reach Kelantan. The "easy way" to Kelantan was to sail around the peninsula, braving the sea and pirates. For this reason Kelantan's history often involves the sea, and boats. Even today, many of its people are very much tied to the sea. A discussion with many coastal residents will confirm that their ancestors as far back as they know, were "of the sea."


Kelantan is the second poorest state in Malaysia, with a chiefly agrarian economy dominated by padi, rubber and tobacco. Fishing along its 96-kilometre coastline is also an important economic activity. Cottage industries which employ traditional skills in handicraft production such as batik, woodcarving and songket weaving are also evident. In recent years, tourism has increased in importance.

Kota Bharu, the capital, is the major urban centre but there are plans to open up the southern portion of the state under an ambitious multi-million dollar development project.


Kelantan has a tropical climate, with temperatures from 21 deg C to 32 deg C and intermittent rain throughout the year. The wet season is the east-coast monsoon season from November to January.


The flag consists of a white emblem on a red background. The red background signifies the loyalty of the people of Kelantan. The white emblem stands for the sanctity of the office of the Ruler.
The flag consists of a white emblem on a red background. The red background signifies the loyalty of the people of Kelantan. The white emblem stands for the sanctity of the office of the Ruler.

A part of the deeply conservative Malay heartlands, Kelantan has been ruled by the opposition Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) since 1990, with re-elections in 1995, 1999 and 2004. It is currently the only Malaysian state not ruled by the Barisan Nasional coalition.

PAS and the State of Kelantan are intimately related for various reasons. Firstly, PAS is the only and the oldest Malaysian opposition Islamic Party (established in 1951) while Kelantan is the only state of the thirteen states in Malaysia which is ruled by PAS, and in fact the only one by the opposition.

Secondly, almost all PAS members are Malay Muslims, while about 95% of Kelantan's population are also of the same race and same religious belief.

Thirdly, the State of Kelantan is almost synonymous with PAS, as Kelantan has been under PAS rule for a long period, and more than once. Unlike the neighbouring Terengganu which wasruled by PAS once for a short time(1959–1962), Kelantan has been under PAS twice, each for quite a substantial period. The first rule, beginning as early as two years after independence, in 1959, was for a period of 18 years (1959–1978), and the second, which is still prevailing at the moment,(1990–present).

The interval between the two rules, viz. when the Barisan Nasional Party ruled the State, was only about twelve years (11 March 1978 to 21 October 1990). After that, for the second time, in the 1990 General Election, PAS returned with an overwhelming victory, winning all the 39 State and 13 Parliamentary seats. The victory was achieved through the PAS-led opposition coalition Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU). In the following General Election in 1995, the victory was repeated again, though this time with a lesser majority, continuing PAS rule in Kelantan until now. PAS has attempted for years to impose Islamic Law on the Kelantan, and has succeed in imposing certain social strictures (such as single-sex queues in supermarkets, separate public benches for men and women, etc.)

The hereditary Sultan of Kelantan since 1979 has been Sultan Ismail Petra. His Menteri Besar or Chief Minister is currently Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat , a religious teacher and member of PAS.


The peoples of Kelantan, peace loving and friendly by nature, are regarded as among "the most Malayan or the Malaysians. The largely rural state preserves rich Malay traditions as kite-flying contests, top-spinning contests, wayang kulit, and bird singing competitions, and traditional handicrafts such as batik, songket, and silver crafts. however, due to its closeness to Thailand and historical associations, some Thai influence can also be seen in the customs and traditions. The Kelantanese people, regardless of ethnic origin, are very proud of their state and local culture. They regard themselves as a distinct group from other Malaysians.


Kelantan Malays consider themselves a rather unique breed. Many have some Thai blood, as intermarriages between the Thais and Malays were (and still) are common. The Pattani Malays of southern Thailand are very similar in ethnicity and culture to the Malays of Kelantan.

Kelantanese Malay, heavily influenced by the Thai language, is distinct from other Malay dialects and is almost incomprehensible to outsiders. Kelantanese Malay is the only lingua franca of the state, is used in the local mass media, and is so commonly used for daily communication that some Kelantanese cannot speak the standard form of Malay, as promoted by the Federal Government. The dialect extend beyond the state borders into southern Thailand and the nothern part of Terengganu.Whilst Arab script has less influence in the other parts of Malaysia, it is still widely used in the state. Signboards in Kelantan are written in both Jawi and Rumi, and sometimes even Thai.

The population of the state is overwhelmingly Malay; therefore Islam is the most influential religion in the state.

To most Malaysians, Kelantan is synonymous with Malay arts and crafts. Kota Bahru, as the state capital, is a popular centre for such pursuits as silat martial arts and kertok drumming. Here, too, more than any other place in Malaysia, the traditional past-times of top-spinning — known as gasing — and the flying of giant, elaborately-decorated kites called wau, are still much in evidence.


The ethnic Thai inhabitants of Kelantan are mostly centered in an area around the coastal town of Tumpat, site of most of the state's twenty or so Buddhist temples, and noteworthy for its number of confident and relatively well-off Siamese villages.

The dialect of the Thai language spoken in Kelantan is called "Tak Bai", after the southernmost coastal town in Narathiwat, just across the Kolok River from Malaysia. Tak Bai dialect differs substantially from standard southern Thai and other regional Thai dialects, and it seems certain that the Kelantan Thais are the descendants of an original enclave of Narathiwat settlers established in sparsely-populated Malay territory as long as four centuries ago.

Buddhism is also visible where hundreds of Thai wats can be found throughout the state. The local Muslims are strangely ambivalent in their attitude towards Thai Buddhism, which is seen as a relatively prestigious religion, certainly preferable to atheism, and more obviously an organised community faith than that of the Kelantan Chinese. The Malays definitely approve of the Thais as a religious people, and are generally impressed by the architecture and style of the Buddhist temples, which are recognised as a cultural asset of the region.


The Chinese assimilation is manifested as: "Malay behaviour as frontstage and Chinese behaviour as backstage". "Frontstage" or public behaviour includes speaking Kelantanese Malay even when among themselves, adopting Malay-style clothing, not eating pork, as well as observing Malay customs and holidays. "Backstage" or private behaviour includes maintaining certain traditional Chinese beliefs and customs confined only to the home.

There is also a minority of Chinese Muslims, but most Chinese follow the beliefs of traditional Chinese religion.


The Kelantanese cuisine, heavily influenced by Thai cuisine, is quite popular among otherMalaysians. In fact, many visitors come to Kelantan just to taste the special delicacies that cannot be found elsewhere. The use of sugar is a must in every Kelantanese cuisine and thus most Kelantanese dishes are sweet.

Kelantanese food makes more use of coconut milk than elsewhere in the country. Curries are richer, creamier, and more influenced by the tastes of nearby Thailand. Perhaps the most characteristic Kelantanese is 'kaeng matsaman'—a mouth-watering beef curry cooked with peanuts, potatoes and chopped red onions in a thick coconut milk sauce. Other Kelantanse specialities include: 'kaeng phanaeng kai'—savoury chicken and coconut curry. 'Kaeng som nom mai dong'—hot and sour fish ragout with pickled bamboo. 'Pla see siad haeng thawt'—deep fried semi-dried pla see fish. 'Khao yam pak tai'—an intriguing breakfast salad. The presentation is exquisite. A small pile of fragrant boiled rice, accompanied by finely chopped heaps of lemon grass, peanuts, bean sprouts, green beans, sour mango and chopped makrut or kaffir lime is served with spicy chilli pepper, fresh lime and a piquant sweet-sour sauce. It's unusual, elegant, and very typical of Kelantan. Kelantanse dishes, like central Thai, are usually accompanied by generous helpings of 'khao suay', or "beautiful rice"—the best of which, 'khao hawm mali', or jasmine-fragrance rice, is steamed until each grain is tender but separate.


Apart from delicacies imported from Thailand, there are delicacies which are invented by the Kelantanese themselves such as:

  • Nasi Dagang

this sort of rice which is cooked with oil and some spice and curry, so it's recommended that you take only a small portion, because it's extremely filling. It's really tasty and goes really, really well with fish curry plus sour salad and hard boiled eggs and curry chicken.

  • Nasi Kerabu

Nasi Kerabu literally means 'salad rice'. Nasi Kerabu is dyed blue and served with local herbs and vegetables. Apart from that it also served with fried fish, fish crackers, salted egg, 'solok lada' (coconut stuffed in chilles), and pickled garlics.

  • Nasi Tumpang

Rice packed in a cone-shaped banana leaf. A pack of Nasi Tumpang consists of omelette, meat floss, chicken curry and sweet gravy. It is traditionally meant for travellers.

  • Ayam Golek

Roasted chicken dressed with sweet coconut gravy. Ayam Golek is eaten with 'cholek' (Thai chilli sauce).

  • Nasi Berlauk

Most Kelantanese have Nasi Berlauk as their breakfast. Nasi Berlauk is rice served with fish and vegetables cooked with the sweet yellow gravy.


  • Cholek

Cholek is the most popular dipping sauce in Kelantan. The cholek is different from other chilli sauces because cholek is very thin and very sweet. This dipping sauce is used for any kind of chicken, but also goes well with shrimp, fish cake, spring roll, sausage etc. The most popular brand is "Mae Pranom" from Thailand.

  • Budu

Budu is a fish sauce eaten with rice, grilled fish and vegetables. It has a salty taste.

Government structure of Kelantan


In actual fact, the direct translation of Tanah Jajahan in Malay to English is 'Occupied Territories'. Kelantan was a divided feudal state, a common situation in the Malay Peninsula, with separate petty local rulers. However, a strong one managed to rise and conquer all these small petty territories. In the end, Kelantan became united under one Sultan.

Number in brackets represent population in that particular district.

State Anthem

The Goanese Bandmaster of the Kelantan Police Band, Haji Mohamed bin Mohamed Sa'id (1888–1939) was ordered to compose a song (only tunes) to be played to the then-Sultan of Kelantan, Ismail, on July 5, 1927. Subsequently, the words were composed by Mahmood bin Hamzah (1893–1971), who was the State secretary at that time.

Original Malay version

Lanjutkan usia Al-Sultan kami
Sultan Kelantan raja ikrami
Aman sentosa Tuhan sirami

Kekal memerintah kami
Kasih dan taat setia disembahkan
Keriangan diucapkan
Segala kebesaran Allah cucurkan
Bertambah kemuliaan

Translated English version

Extend the life of our Sultan,
The divine Sultan of Kelantan,
Peaceful with God's bless,

Forever rule us,
Love and loyalty we provide,
Happiness is wished upon
All of His blessings He gives,
Forever honoured

External links


fr:Kelantan id:Kelantan ja:クランタン州 ms:Kelantan zh:吉兰丹


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