From the World Heritage inscription:
Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.
George Town was designated a World Heritage site just a month before I arrived. There were still banners and signs all over the congratulating themselves on the accomplishment.
George Town was a former British trading city in Malaysia along with Melaka and Singapore. Many people have told me that George Town is what Singapore would look like today if it hadn’t become independent of Malaysia.
In addition to the European architecture, there is also a strong Chinese influence in the city, the remnant of Chinese traders who settled there.