In the 1850's, Raja Abdullah, a member of
the Selangor royal family, opened up the Klang Valley to tin
prospectors. Then a jungle, the Ampang area in Kuala Lumpur
became a thriving tin mine. As a result, merchants and tin
prospectors established a trading post at the confluence of
the Klang and Gombak rivers, hence its name which means
'muddy estuary' in Malay.
Rival factions and royalty disputing over tin led to bloody
feuds and wars. However, under the able leadership of
Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, the third leader of the Chinese
community appointed by the British, the sleepy mining town
boomed into an important commercial hub.
The town's success led the British Resident Sir Frank
Sweettenham to elevate it to be the state capital of
Selangor in 1880. The following year, Kuala Lumpur was burnt
down in yet another feud and rebuilt using brick and tile to
replace the hazardous attap or wooden houses. The completion
of a railway connecting the town to Port Klang in 1886
further fuelled Kuala Lumpur's growth.
In 1896, when the Federated Malay States were incorporated,
Kuala Lumpur was made the capital. On 1 February 1972, it
was conferred city status. Two years after that, in 1974, it
was declared a Federal Territory.