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One of Malaysia's most sought after destinations, the small city-state of Melaka lures droves of visitors to this historic port city, where they are quickly steeped in an intoxicating multicultural world of heritage architecture and the alluring aromas of distinctive local cooking. It's sometimes said that this is where you'll glimpse the soul of the nation.

To date no historian has been able up to now to pin-point the year Malaka was founded. Going by the State government's celebration of the 600th anniversary of the founding in August 1990, it could be deduced that Malacca was founded in 1390. However, some historians have placed the founding at between 1376 and 1400. That a Sumatran prince, named Parameswara, was credited with the founding of the city and naming it Melaka is not disputed.

A popular account puts the Prince as out hunting one day and while resting under a tree, one of his dogs cornered a mouse-deer. The mouse-deer in its defence attacked the dog and even forced it into the river-water. Parameswara was so taken up by the courage of the mouse-deer that he decided on the spot to found a city on the ground he was sitting on. Thus, Melaka or Malacca was born. Many claimed that the prince took this name from the 'Melaka' tree that was shading him.

As time went on, Melaka grew bigger and bigger and became more and more prosperous. The prince known as Iskandar Shah died in 1424. During his rule, Melaka progressed into a booming international trading post, luring over Javanese, Indian, Arab and Chinese sea-merchants.

Under Sultan Mansur Shah (1456 - 1477), Melaka's fame and wealth not long after caught the attention of the expansionist Europeans with the Portuguese becoming the first to arrive and eventually going on to conquer the land. They were led by Alfonso d'Albuquerque.

The Portuguese occupiers stayed on far 130 years and their King benefited immensely from this. After the Dutch captured Melaka from the Portuguese in 1641, they continued to use Batavia, now Jakarta, as their head quarters.

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