The Naming of Kuala Lumpur

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The Mystery of Kuala Lumpur's name!

How Kuala Lumpur got its name is a mystery that is still unsolved today. We can only speculate how this name was derived.

There are 3 theories on how Kuala Lumpur got her name.

The first is that Kuala Lumpur got its name from the Hakka word "Lampang" which means "muddy uncleared forest". Kuala Lumpur was first established when the swampy land beside the Gombak and Klang river junctions was cleared, and it became known as Kuala Lampa, and later as Kuala Lumpur.

The second version is explained by Kuala Lumpur's location at the junction between Sungei Gombak and Sungei Klang. 

In the Malay language, Kuala means a junction between 2 rivers, and Lumpur means muddy. Hence, Kuala Lumpur literally means "muddy river junction." 

In accordance with the Malay language, the point at which a smaller stream joins a large one is usually called the Kuala of the smaller stream. If that is so, Kuala Lumpur should rightfully be named Kuala Gombak.

J. C. Pascal stated that there was a Sungai Lumpur joining Sungai Klang a mile upstream from the Sungei Gombak junction. If Pascal was correct and the first settlement was at the Gombak junction, why should Kuala Lumpur be be named after a junction (now not identifiable) a mile away?

The third version is that the place was originally called Pengkalen Lumpur or the "muddy jetty." Klang was originally known as Pengkalen Batu or stone jetty, and the upstream jetty was named Pengkalen Lumpur to differentiate between the two jetties. The explanation assumed that the Chinese then shortened the original name to Kalen Lumpur and then into Kuala Lumpur.


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This page was last modified on September 12, 2000