Straits of Malacca is a funnel-shaped narrow waterway of 800 km long that connects the South China Sea and Andaman Sea. The Strait of Malacca is running between Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand and Sumatra (Indonesia). The name of the strait came from Malacca Sultanate that ruled the group of islands between 1400 and 1511. The port of Malacca played an important role in trade during 16th and 17th centuries.
The depth of water in the southern side of the street does not exceed 120 feet. Usually, the depth of water is around 90 feet. However, the depth of the water deepens gradually towards the northwestern side and reaches the depth of about 650 feet because the strait join with Andaman Basin.
History of Straits of Malacca
Malacca was an important city situated along the Strait of Malacca during past centuries. Malacca was the major trading port, where sailing vessels loaded with spices from all parts of the world used to come to the harbor. The port was also popular for trading various things such as silk, porcelain, textiles, camphor, sandalwood, mace, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, tin, and gold from various parts of the world. Malacca used to be the safe place as the wind was blowing always towards the right position, so that the sailors can reach the shore safely.
During the 7th century, the Srivijaya Empire based in Sumatra came into power and the empire expanded its power to Java and Malay Peninsula. The Srivijaya Empire gained control in the Strait of Malacca, Sunda Strait and Southeast Asia. The Srivijaya Empire gained military and economic domination along the Strait of Malacca for around 700 years.
Srivijaya enjoyed great benefits through spice trade between Indian, Arab and Chinese merchants. Straits of Malacca helped to establish a sea route for trade between China and India. It continued in later centuries also even after the Malacca Sultanate came into power during the 15th century.
Malacca had faced several conquerors such as English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese during the past centuries. The city of Malacca became prominent for everyone who wanted to rule the Straits of Malacca as the Strait was an important route for spice trading. Hence, Malacca faced so many conquerors from 1400, so that they can reap economic benefits through spice trading.
In the year 1511, Portuguese under the leadership of Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca. However, the Portuguese could not retain the prosperity of Malacca because of the wars, competition and restrictive policies. They ruled Malacca till the year 1641 because the Dutch East India Company conquered the fort “A Famosa” built by the Portuguese during their reign.
After conquering Malacca, the Dutch rebuilt the fort and also built new buildings. Even though the Dutch constructed new buildings, the trade in Malacca declined during their regime. The Dutch conquered Malacca to eliminate the competitors and ensure safe trade in the spice-route. When the Netherlands was conquered by French in 1795, Malacca was given to the British in order to elude French from conquering the city.
In 1808, the British returned Malacca to Dutch, but the city was soon handed over to the British East India Company again. English East India Company ruled the city since 1826. In 1957, anti-colonial protest culminated and independence was proclaimed by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.
Importance of Straits of Malacca
Strait of Malacca is one of the important shipping channels of the world even now. Strait of Malacca became the shortest sea channel between Persian Gulf traders and Asian traders. Oil containers from the Middle East is transported to the Pacific Rim, South Korea, Japan, and China through the Strait of Malacca. It is the main oil transport checkpoint in Asia as 35% of the all oil containers are passing through the Strait of Malacca. Approximately around 15.2 million barrels of oil are transported through this waterway. Around 90% of the oil transportation consists of crude oil transportation and rest constitutes petroleum products. Every year, more than 60,000 ships pass through the Strait of Malacca.