The word Langkawi has its roots in two words, “Helang”, which means eagle, and “Kawi”, which means marble.  Because the island is home to many eagles and its earth is rich with marble, the name Langkawi was given to this Malaysian island. 

            The recorded history of the island is scarce, but a few facts from the past have survived.   A few records from Chinese history dating back to 500A.D. claim that the island was originally inhabited in the first century.   The records actually refer to the Kingdom of Langgasu , which is not the same name as Langkawi, but the root word “Heland” is the same.   Historians suspect that it refers to the same place.   The statue of a giant eagle in the present day capital of Kuah supports this evidence.

            During the 18 th and early 19 th centuries, Langkawi was controlled by the Sultanate of Kedah.   Then, in 1821 Kedah was overtaken by Siam, which took control of Langkawi as well.

            Power over Langkawi was given to the British in 1909 with the Anglo-Siamese Treaty.  Until Malaysia gained independence, Langkowi was controlled by the British, except for a breif period during which Thailand controled it.  Even thought the Thai controlled period was very short, their influence is still felt in the present day culutre.