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Kedah (Langkawi) : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
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  The First In South East Asia
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Penang / Pulau Pinang : Northern Region Of Peninsular Malaysia - Tourist Attraction and Destination Guide
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LANGKAWI GEOPARK : The First In South East Asia

Langkawi Geopark

World's First Duty Free Geopark

The first in South East Asia & the world 52nd Geopark



Langkawi island has recently been rebranded to "LANGKAWI GEOPARK" to better reflect the island's recognition by UNESCO as a World's First Free Duty Geopark.  It encompasses all the unique facets of the islands, including the colourful lifestyle, culture, the amazing biodiversity and unique geological make-up of the landscape and terrain reflecting the geo-diversity of the islands that is deeply entrenched within the complex geological history of the area.  The spellbound mystical island is also opulent in history and myths.  Mount Mat Cincang, Kilim Geoforest Park and Pulau Tasik Dayang Bunting  truly has what it takes to make Langkawi to be the number one geo park in the world. World Geopark nowadays has become one of the latest tourist sensations across the globe.


The concept of Geopark initiated by the UNESCO in 1999 was mainly aimed to promote education, science and culture surrounding some of the world most prominent geological landscapes. Therefore, unlike some other nature conservation, the concept of Geopark is not entirely focused on conservation. As a whole, the Geopark concept is rather more concerned about the total community development, benefited from the grandeur of nature surrounding their daily live, inherited by nature. Started in more developed European nations, the Geopark concept has nowadays being well accepted in many developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. For being responsive and proactive towards the global promotion on Geopark, China has currently been well ahead of the rest of developed nation with respect to geoheritage conservation efforts. For that matter, China has enjoyed a much higher record of tourist influx to its designated geoparks.




Any areas could be designated as geopark if they possess several geoheritage features and preferably some outstanding geological landscape in which these geological and landscape features are sustainably used as the nucleus for the development of local communities through conservation and ecotourism. Essentially, a geopark should have conservation, local community and ecotourism components. In the geopark concept, local community is regarded as a central component of intereaction between various elements within the environment, and thus the geopark management authority should get them actively involved in managing geoheritage conservation and promoting sustainable geotourism.




The above mentioned development concept does not seem to contradict with the present Langkawi development agenda, particularly as Langkawi is geared towards making the so-called daylight tourism as its trademark. In adopting this kind of nature tourism, Langkawi would create its very own niche in this highly competitive industry instead of having to compete on the same basis with other neighbouring tourist destinations such as Phuket or Bali. In order to sustain nature tourism, Langkawi should go along with various initiatives of nature conservation that has a symbiotic kind of relationship with nature tourism or ecotourism. A kind of integrative and more holistic conservation concept such as that of geopark would definitely suit this necessity. At the same time, eradicating poverty and improving the quality of life of the local community which is also the main concern for the Langkawi District Council and Langkawi Development Authority, should be addressed properly. These show that the present Langkawi development and the geopark agenda could very well work hand in hand as they could supplement one another very nicely. For this matter, the local community stands to better benefit from the inception of Langkawi as a geopark.




The fact of the matter is that Langkawi undoubtedly has some of the best-exposed rock formations in Malaysia. This would be even more exaggerated during the long dry spell in early quarter of each year when most of the forest vegetation shed their leaves, making the islands as bold as ever. For its abundant fresh rock exposures, Langkawi has traditionally been chosen by the local universities as their compulsory field laboratory studies, where students do their fieldwork exercise every year. Among the highlight of Langkawi geological treasures is its well-studied Palaeozoic history. Langkawi has been dubbed as the birthplace or the fetus land of the region. It has the best-exposed and most complete Palaeozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia beginning from Cambrian to Permian period. Later during the Mesozoic, the islands underwent its major tectonic event that resulted in the emplacement of its numerous granitic igneous bodies, This incredible power generated by nature from the deep mantle beneath the earth has driven up huge blocks of older rocks and somehow placed them above a very much younger terrain.


In Langkawi geological history, much of its geological development was somewhat linked to what have happened in the old supercontinent Pangea and southern hemispheric Gondwanaland since more than 550 million years ago. It started in the deposition of Machinchang sandstone in a lacustrine environment during much of the Cambrian time, followed by the submergence of the land during Late Cambrian time (.-5OOm.y.) which sees the invasion of shallow marine fauna into the proto-Langkawi sea. The continuous subsidence of the sea floor resulted in the formation of thick limestone of Setul Formation during the Ordovician. At the end of Ordovician time(?440m.y.), the sea became too deep to eventually stop the limestone deposition temporarily. Setul limestone continued to develop during Silurian until the Middle Devonian (-370m.y.), followed by the deposition of sandstone and mudstone which sometimes are related to the rafted ice due to the global melting of Goridwana ice cap.


The black sandstone and mudstone of Singa Formation is succeeded by the limestone of Chuping Formation during the Early Permian (-280m.y.) before the sea was slowly brought up by a complicated tectonic process. The Chuping limestone is believed to have stopped depositing before the end of Permian (-245m.y.) by this tectonic event that among others brought up a large block of earth crust in the eastern part of Langkawi overlapping the much younger block in the west. The tectonic event ends up with the emplacement of granite beneath the Langkawi crust at the end of Triassic (?220m.y.).


What we have in Langkawi today is a combination result of these various processes and the prolonged weathering process that took place ever since the Langkawi land was brought to the surface around 220 million years ago. As a result of these processes we have a beautiful mountainous ranges of Machinchang sandstone at the northwestern corner of Langkawi Island, the conical Gunung Raya granite at the center and a rugged terrain of Setul Limestone in the eastern part of Langkawi. In the southwest of Langkawi islands, the Singa formation dominated while the Chuping Limestone dominates the western part of Dayang Bunting Island. Some of the landscapes are truly outstanding, particularly those of the Mat Cincang and the karstic limestone in the eastern part of Langkawi.




Based on its outstanding geological landscape and other various geological features such as sedimentary structures, fossils and erosional features Langkawi certainly has geological heritage material of high value, even much better than some of the geoparks already established within the UNESCO Global Network of National Geopark. On the geoheritage conservation required by the geopark, geoheritage of Langkawi are mainly protected under the jurisdiction of the Permanent Forest Reserve, Recreational Forest or Geoforest Park. In terms of infrastructure, Langkawi already has sufficient infrastructure for community and tourism development required by the geopark concept. However in terms of community participation, Langkawi Geopark authority and researchers should work hand in hand with the local community to encourage them to participate more actively in the conservation as well as the geotourism activities. Hopefully, with their bigger involvement, they will eventually feel that these geoheritage resources belong to them and will protect them for the future generation.

LANGKAWI GEOPARK : The First In South East Asia