KELANTAN. This state on the east coast, bounded N. and N.E. by the China Sea, E. by Trengganu, S. by Pahang and W. by Perak and Ra-nge, lies between 4 48' and 6 20' N. and 101 33' and 102 45' E. The greatest length from north to south is 115 m. and the greatest breadth from east to west 60 m. The area is about 5000 sq. m. The northern part of the state is flat and fertile, but the southern district which comprises more than half the total area, is mountainous and uncultivated.
Next to the Pahang, the Kelantan River is the largest on the east coast. It is 120 miles long and is navigable for shallow-draft launches and big country boats for about 80 miles, and for vessels of 8 ft. draft for about six miles. Its principal tributaries are the Galasj Pergau and Lebir. The Golok and Semarak rivers water the west and east parts of the state, falling into the sea a few miles on either side of the mouth of the Kelantan River. The climate of Kelantan is mild and singularly healthy in the open cultivated regions. The population is about 300,000 of which 10,000 are aboriginal tribes (Sakeisand Jakuns), 10,000 Siamese and Chinese and the rest Malays. The Chinese are increasing and natives of different parts of India are resorting to the state for purposes of trade. Kota Bharu (pop. 10,000) is the only town in the state. It lies on the right bank of the river, about six miles from the sea. Since 1904 it has been laid out with metalled roads and many public and private buildings have been erected. The town is the commercial as well as the administrative centre of the state. Tumpat and Tabar on the coast, with population 4000 and 3000 respectively, are the places next in importance after Kota Bharu. A net work of creeks render communication easy in the northern districts, the river and its tributaries afford means of access to all parts of the south ; 20 miles of road have been made in the neighbourhood of Kota Bharu. Kelantan is connected by telegraph with Bangkok and Singapore, and maintains regular postal communication with those places. Rice cultivation is the principal industry and is increasing rapidly. Coco-nut and betel-nut growing are also largely practised. Much livestock is raised. About 400,000 acres of land are under cultivation. Though reputed rich in minerals, past misrule prevented mining enterprise in Kelantan until, in 1900, a large concession was given to an Englishman and the country was opened to foreigners. In 1909 three mining syndicates were at work, and several others were in process of formation. gold, tin and galena have been found in several localities and during the years 1906-1909 28,000 ounces of gold were dredged from the Kelantan River. The Kelantanese are expert fishermen, some 30,000 finding employment in fishing and fish-drying. Silk- weaving is a growing industry. Foreign trade, which in 1909 reached the value of two and a half million dollars, is chiefly with Singapore. Principal exports are copra, rice, fish, cattle and gold ; chief imports are cotton goods, hardware and specie. The currency is the Straits Settlements dollar and small silver coin, supplemented by a locally made tin coin of low value.
By virtue of a mutual agreement made in 1902 Siam appointed a resident commissioner to Kelantan and consented, so long as the advice of that officer should be followed, to leave internal affairs to be conducted locally. Under this arrangement a council of state was appointed, departments of government were organized, penal, civil and revenue laws were passed and enforced, courts were established and a police force was raised. Though formerly of an evil reputation, the people were found to be naturally peaceful and lawabiding, and serious crime is rare. The state revenue, which was practically nothing in 1902, amounted to $320,000 in 1907. Islamism was adopted about 300 years ago but the old animistic superstitions are still strong. The state is divided into mukim or parishes, but the imam no longer exercise temporal authority. There are three schools at Kota Bharu, education in the interior being in the hands of the imam assisted with government grants.
No historical records of Kelantan exist, and the state was not noticed by the European merchants of the 16th and 17th centuries. Consequently little is known of its early history beyond what is to be gathered from brief references in the Malay annals and the old chronicles of Siam. The sites of ancient towns and the remains of former gold diggings are visible here and there, but all knowledge of the men who made these marks has been lost. The present ruling family dates from about 1790. Siam was frequently called upon to maintain internal peace and in 1892 a royal prince was sent to reside in Kelantan as commissioner. Complications brought about by the incapacity of the ruler led to the making of the agreement of 1902 above mentioned, to the fixing of a regular tribute in money to Siam, and ultimately to the merging of the state from chaotic lawlessness into the path of reform. On the 15th of July 1909 the state came under British suzerainty and the commissioner of Siam was replaced by a British adviser, from which date the liability to payment of tribute ceased, though in all other respects the administrative arrangements of Siam ^remained unaltered.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)