Langkawi remained as a quiet backwater until 1986, when the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform it into a major tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands buildings himself.Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands separated from mainland Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca, is a district of the state of Kedah in northern Malaysia and lies approximately 51 km west of Kedah.
Standard Malay is the official language and is used in formal occasions.
English is widely spoken and understood by the locals.
The island's oldest geological formation, the Machinchang Formation, was the first part of Southeast Asia to rise from the seabed in the Cambrian more than half a billion years ago.
The oldest part of the formation is observable at Teluk Datai to the north-west of the island, where the exposed outcrop consists of mainly sandstone (quartzite) in the upper parts and shale and mudstone in the lower parts of the sequence.
Legend tells of a great snake ular besar, the custodian of the Langkawi Islands, to which a new king of Kedah must sacrifice a virgin daughter whenever he first ascended the throne, or when a war was declared with another state., Lóngyájiāoyǐ, in his map.
In the 15th century, it was known to the Acehnese as Pulau Lada "Pepper Island" as they came over to plant pepper.
On 15 July 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah consented to the change of name to Langkawi Permata Kedah in conjunction with his golden jubilee celebration.
By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous (Pulau Langkawi), with a population of some 64,792; the only other inhabited island being nearby Tuba Island.
In 1909, the islands came under British rule under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909.
The middle of the channel between Tarutao National Park and Langkawi would become the Siamese border, and Tarutao would be part of Siam while all the Langkawi islands to the south would come under British rule.