List of cities in Malaysia

This article discusses the list of cities within Malaysia. In Malaysia, cities (Malay: bandaraya) are officially designated under the governance of city councils (Malay: Majlis bandaraya), although there are several exceptions. As of 2022, 19 areas in the country are officially termed cities by law. Among them, 16 are from Peninsular Malaysia, while 3 are in East Malaysia. George Town, the capital city of Penang, was declared as a city on 1 January 1957 by Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, making it the first city in the country, and the only city declared before Malayan independence. George Town remained the sole city of Malaya until 1963, when Singapore was formally incorporated into Malaysia. However, Singapore's expulsion in 1965 meant that George Town would remain as Malaysia's only city until Kuala Lumpur's declaration as a city in 1972, by Abdul Halim of Kedah, the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. In 1988, Kuching was chartered as the first city in East Malaysia. Kuantan is the most recent municipality in the country declared a city, doing so in February 2021.

There are also highly urbanised and populated areas across the country that did not attain city status, but are sometimes referred as cities. Officially, these areas are classified as municipalities or townships.

Cities in Malaysia

Current cities

General information Administrative Notes
Name Image State Local governments Date of declaration Pop.
Flag Seal
George Town
City of Penang Island
Bandaraya Pulau Pinang
 Penang Penang Island City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang
1 January 1957
by Elizabeth II,
Queen of the United Kingdom,
as the City of George Town

31 March 2015
by Abdul Halim of Kedah,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XIV,
as the City of Penang Island
794,313 [1][2][3]
Kuala Lumpur
Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
  • Kuala Lumpur District

 Federal Territories

Kuala Lumpur City Hall
Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur
1 February 1972
by Abdul Halim of Kedah,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong V,
as the City of Kuala Lumpur
1,982,112 [4]
City of Ipoh
Bandaraya Ipoh
 Perak Ipoh City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh
27 May 1988
by Azlan Shah of Perak,
34th Sultan of Perak,
as the City of Ipoh
759,952 [5]
City of Kuching
Bandaraya Kuching
 Sarawak Commission of Kuching
North City Hall

Suruhanjaya Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara
1 August 1988
by Iskandar of Johor,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong VIII,
as the City of Kuching
349,147 [6]
Council of the City of
Kuching South

Majlis Bandaraya Kuching Selatan
Johor Bahru
City of Johor Bahru
Bandaraya Johor Bahru
 Johor Johor Bahru City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru
1 January 1994
by Iskandar of Johor,
24th Sultan of Johor,
as the City of Johor Bahru
858,118 [7]
Federal Territory of Putrajaya
Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya
 Federal Territories Putrajaya Corporation
Perbadanan Putrajaya
1 October 1995
by Ja'afar of Negeri Sembilan,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong X,
as the Federal Territory of Putrajaya
Kota Kinabalu
City of Kota Kinabalu
Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu
 Sabah Kota Kinabalu City Hall
Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu
2 February 2000
by Salahuddin of Selangor,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XI,
as the City of Kota Kinabalu
500,425 [8]
Shah Alam
City of Shah Alam
Bandaraya Shah Alam
 Selangor Shah Alam City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam
10 October 2000
by Sirajuddin of Perlis,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XII,
as the City of Shah Alam
541,306 [9]
Malacca City
City of Malacca
Bandaraya Melaka
 Malacca Malacca City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Melaka
15 April 2003
by Sirajuddin of Perlis,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XII,
as the City of Malacca
453,904 [10]
Alor Setar
City of Alor Setar
Bandaraya Alor Setar
  • Kota Setar District
Alor Setar City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Alor Setar
21 December 2003
by Sirajuddin of Perlis,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XII,
as the City of Alor Setar
423,868 [11]
City of Miri
Bandaraya Miri
  • Miri Division
Miri City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Miri
20 May 2005
by Abang Muhammad Salahuddin,
6th Governor of Sarawak,
as the City of Miri
248,877 [12][6]
Petaling Jaya
City of Petaling Jaya
Bandaraya Petaling Jaya
 Selangor Petaling Jaya City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya
20 June 2006
by Sharafuddin of Selangor,
9th Sultan of Selangor,
as the City of Petaling Jaya
613,977 [13][9]
Kuala Terengganu
City of Kuala Terengganu
Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu
 Terengganu Kuala Terengganu City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu
1 January 2008
by Tengku Muhammad Ismail,
Crown Prince of Terengganu,
as the City of Kuala Terengganu
426,500 [14][15]
Iskandar Puteri
City of Iskandar Puteri
Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri
 Johor Iskandar Puteri City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri
22 November 2017
by Ibrahim Ismail of Johor,
25th Sultan of Johor,
as the City of Iskandar Puteri
575,977 [16][7]
Seberang Perai
City of Seberang Perai
Bandaraya Seberang Perai
 Penang Seberang Perai City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai
16 September 2019
by Abdul Rahman Abbas,
7th Governor of Penang,
as the City of Seberang Perai
946,092 [17][18][3]
City of Seremban
Bandaraya Seremban
 Negeri Sembilan Seremban City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Seremban
1 January 2020
by Muhriz of Negeri Sembilan,
11th Yamtuan Besar,
as the City of Seremban
681,541 [19][20][21]
Subang Jaya
City of Subang Jaya
Bandaraya Subang Jaya
 Selangor Subang Jaya City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Subang Jaya
20 October 2020
by Sharafuddin of Selangor,
9th Sultan of Selangor,
as the City of Subang Jaya
771,687 [22][9]
Pasir Gudang
City of Pasir Gudang
Bandaraya Pasir Gudang
 Johor Pasir Gudang City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Pasir Gudang
22 November 2020
by Ibrahim Ismail of Johor,
25th Sultan of Johor,
as the City of Pasir Gudang
312,437 [23][7]
City of Kuantan
Bandaraya Kuantan
  • Kuantan District
Kuantan City Council
Majlis Bandaraya Kuantan
21 February 2021
by Abdullah of Pahang,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XVI,
as the City of Kuantan
548,014 [24][25]

Former cities

General information Administrative Notes
Name Image State Local governments Date of declaration Date of abolishment
Flag Seal
City of Singapore
Bandaraya Singapura
State of Singapore City Council of Singapore
Majlis Bandaraya Singapura
22 September 1951
by George VI,
King of the United Kingdom,
as the City of Singapore
9 August 1965
(expelled from Malaysia)



George Town became a city on 1 January 1957 by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first town in the Federation of Malaya to become a city (Singapore became a city in 1951). The royal charter stated that :

"... the said Municipality of George Town shall on the First Day of January in the year of Our Lord One thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven and forever after that be a city and shall be called and styled the CITY OF GEORGE TOWN instead of the Municipality of George Town and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a City."

However, local government elections were abolished by the federal government in 1965, and the functions of the City Council were transferred to the Chief Minister of Penang in 1966. A Municipal Council for the whole of Penang Island, the Penang Island Municipal Council, was set up between 1974 and 1976.

Although the city status of George Town was never officially revoked, George Town's existence as a corporate entity was in doubt, let alone as a city. This is similar to the position of the former city of Rochester in England, the site of England's second-oldest cathedral, which had been a city from 1211 until 1998 when it was merged with a neighbouring borough. As the new council was not granted city status, and the city, through oversight, failed to appoint charter trustees to inherit the city charter, the city ceased to exist.

Most residents disagreed with this view, who held that as George Town's city status has never been revoked, it remains a city to this day. According to lawyer Datuk Anwar Fazal, George Town "legally has been and is still a city because the City of George Town Ordinance 1957 had not been repealed".[3] As city status is a matter of law, the actual legal position will depend on an analysis of the City Council of Penang (Transfer of Functions) Order 1966 and the Local Government Act 1976.

On 1 January 2015, the Malaysian federal government upgraded the Penang Island Municipal Council into the present-day Penang Island City Council, thereby expanding the city limit of George Town to encompass the entirety of Penang Island, as well as a handful of surrounding islets.[30][2]

Subsequent cities

The royal charters for Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Shah Alam, Malacca City, Alor Setar and Miri were from the Malaysian head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, while Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Iskandar Puteri and Subang Jaya were granted by their respective state sultans.[31] Malacca City was declared a "historical city" prior to being granted city status in 2003.

Kuala Lumpur, the largest city, is the national capital and a federal territory, but as of 2012, most government ministries have relocated to the new administrative capital of Putrajaya.


Local governments or local authorities in Malaysia (Malay: pihak berkuasa tempatan, abbreviated PBT) are placed under the jurisdiction of their respective state governments. On the other hand, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Malay: Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan, abbreviated as KPKT) handles the classification and standardisation of local governments while providing them with consultations services (i.e. technical consultancy and federal funding).[32] For the Federal Territories, their respective local governments are monitored by the Ministry of Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing (Malay: Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan, abbreviated KWP).[33] The National Council of Local Governments (Malay: Majlis Negara Kerajaan Tempatan, abbreviated as MNKT), formed in 1960 by the federal government, is tasked on handling policies and laws related to local governments.[34][35]

KPKT formally classifies local governments in three different categories: city councils, municipal councils, and district councils, with exceptions equivalent to the three respective categories.[36] These categories are separated by certain requirements related to urban population, finances, and infrastructural developments. The 60th meeting of the MNKT, held on 3 June 2008, approved updated criterion on the selection process for the granting of city status on a local government:[37]

  1. The local government must administer a region that is an administrative centre of a state;
  2. The region must have a population of more than 500-thousand people;
  3. The local government must be financially sustainable, with an annual income of not less than 100-million ringgit, and has the ability to afford stable administrative expenditures;
  4. The local government must have an efficient bureaucratic structure, while maintaining public services at the highest-level, e.g. tax collection, development approvals, legal enforcement, and other necessary functions;
  5. Urban developments planned by the local government should be sustainable;
  6. The local government should give further emphasis on resolving social issues, i.e. squatting, pollution, safety, affordable housing, and environmental conservation. Studies conducted by the Malaysian Urban Indicators Network (MURNInet) would also be taken account of.
  7. The local government must promote an urban image that is applicable towards the national identity as a representation of the country's heritage, and preserve any local objects or places of historical, cultural, or artistic significance;
  8. The region must contain adequate resources and institutions of finance and industry to easily facilitate trade and foreign investments;
  9. The region must be a local hub of education, complete with universities, colleges, museums and public libraries;
  10. The region must be a centre of culture, sports, and recreation;
  11. The local government should have the ability to host conventions of national and international level;
  12. The infrastructure of the region should be complete, with sufficient public utilities (e.g. disabled-persons friendly-public parks, public transportation, traffic management systems, road networks, computer services), and;
  13. The region must achieve nationwide or international recognition equivalent to those of other cities worldwide.[36]

Locations of cities


Kuala Lumpur is by far the largest urban area as well as the largest metropolitan area in Malaysia. George Town, the capital city of Penang, is the second-largest city in Malaysia and the heart of Malaysia's second-largest conurbation. To the south, the twin cities of Johor Bahru and Iskandar Puteri form the core of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. Other metropolitan areas with a population of more than 500,000 include Ipoh, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu.

The following table shows the largest cities by population in Malaysia.

Largest cities and municipalities in Malaysia
Department of Statistics, Malaysia (2020)
Rank Name State Pop. Rank Name State Pop.

Kuala Lumpur

1Kuala LumpurFederal Territories1,982,11211IpohPerak759,952
Seberang Perai

Subang Jaya
2KajangSelangor1,047,35612SerembanNegeri Sembilan681,541
3Seberang PeraiPenang946,09213Iskandar PuteriJohor575,977
4Subang JayaSelangor902,08614KuantanPahang548,014
5KlangSelangor902,02515Sungai PetaniKedah545,053
6Johor BahruJohor858,11816Ampang JayaSelangor531,904
7Shah AlamSelangor812,32717Kota KinabaluSabah500,425
8George TownPenang794,31318Malacca CityMalacca453,904
9Petaling JayaSelangor771,68719SandakanSabah439,050
10SelayangSelangor764,32720Alor SetarKedah423,868

See also



Government documents and announcements

  • "Law of the State of Johor, Enactment 12: Iskandar Puteri City Council Enactment 2017". Written at Johor. Government of Johor Gazette (PDF) (in Malay and English). Malaysia: State Government of Johor. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  • "Criteria Status for Local Authority". Local Government Department of the Malaysian Ministry of Housing and Local Government. 30 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  • "The Ceremony of the Seremban City Council Declaration". Official Portal of the Seremban City Council. Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia: Seremban City Council. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  • "Frequently Asked Questions". Laman Portal Rasmi Majlis Perbandaran Sepang (Official Web Portal of the Municipal Council of Sepang). Retrieved 18 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  • "List of MNKT". (in Malay). Local Government Department of the Malaysian Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Retrieved 18 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  • "Malaysia - Country Profiles 2017-2018" (PDF). Commonwealth Local Government Handbook. London: Commonwealth Local Government Forum. April 2018. pp. 124–128. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  • "Category of Local Authority". Local Government Department of the Malaysian Ministry of Housing and Local Government. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  • "Kategori PBT". (in Malay). Kuala Lumpur: Local Government Department of the Malaysian Ministry of Housing and Local Government. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2022.

Government-published statistics

Articles from magazines, newspapers and websites

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