Langkawi, the beautiful archipelago of Malaysia, is shrouded in mythological legends. Its actual history & origin has lost its course in the passage of times. According to the legends, the term 'Langkawi' is said to have connections with the kingdom of Langkasuka, which is centered in the present Kedah. The historical documentation is little; however, the Chinese Liang Dynasty record (500 AD) refers the kingdom of 'Langgasu' as being established in the 1st century AD.
Another reference of the island's name has been made in the book The
Legends of Langkawi by Tun Mohamed Zahir. It says that the term
'Langkawi' is a combination of two Sanskrit words, Langka (beauty) and
Wi (innumerable). As per the book, Langkawi means the place of immense
beauty. One more reference states that Langkawi means Eagles' Island.
According to it, the term Langkawi is a combination of two words Lang
and Kawi. Where 'Lang' is a corrupt form of Malay word 'helang' which
means eagle, 'Kawi' means marble.
Since both eagles and marble are found in abundance in Langkawi,
probably the place was named after the fact. Indeed, the Eagle Square at
the island was built to commemorate its name. About 200 years ago,
according to the folklore, a young woman, name Mahsuri, was accused of
adultery and was executed by the people in spite of her earnest
innocence. Just before her death, Mahsuri laid a curse on the island
that it will remain barren for seven generations. That's about the
mythological history of Langkawi.
As far as political history is concerned, the Sultanate of Kedah used
to rule over the island. In 1921, when Kedah was conquered by Siam,
Langkawi also passed in the ruling hands. The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of
1909 transferred the holding power to the British, who held the state
until freedom, excluding a brief period of Thai rule under the Japanese
occupation of Malaya during World War II. The Thai influence can be
still seen in the culture and food of Langkawi. In fact, Thai language
is also understood by many people on the island.