An early topographical drawing in The Introduction Room introduces visitors to the immigration patterns of the various peoples here – Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minority groups. An overall picture of the heterogeneous composition of the population of the island emerges.
When Light first arrived, the local population consisted of a small and rudimentary residue of old indigenous trading and fishing communities. However, by the turn of the nineteenth century, the burgeoning trading centre at George Town had begun to attract immigrants of various ethnicity, paving the way to the formation of the present cosmopolitan township.
One of the most striking characteristics of Penang is the harmonious coexistence of the various communities. While the three major ethnic groups – Malays, Chinese and Indians – make up more than ninety per cent of the population, the minority communities find their especial niche.