What Is Malacca in AP World History?

Malacca, also known as Melaka, is a historical city located in the southern region of Malaysia. It was once a powerful trading port and played a significant role in the global economy during the 15th century. Malacca is an essential part of AP World History that students must learn to understand the development of trade and commerce in Southeast Asia.

The Founding of Malacca

According to historical records, Malacca was founded by Parameswara, a Sumatran prince who fled from his homeland after it was attacked by the Majapahit Empire. In 1402, he arrived at the mouth of the Malacca River and established a trading post. The strategic location of Malacca made it an ideal destination for traders from China, India, Arabia, and Europe.

The Rise of Malacca

Malacca quickly became one of the wealthiest trading cities in Southeast Asia due to its strategic location on the Strait of Malacca. Traders who passed through this strait would stop at Malacca to trade goods such as spices, textiles, porcelain, and silk. The city’s prosperity attracted attention from neighboring regions such as Siam (modern-day Thailand), Java (modern-day Indonesia), and even China.

Malaccan Sultanate

In 1405, Parameswara converted to Islam and changed his name to Iskandar Shah. He established the Malaccan Sultanate and became its first sultan. The sultanate lasted for more than a century until it fell under Portuguese control in 1511.

Impact on AP World History

The rise of Malacca had a significant impact on world history because it facilitated trade between East Asia and South Asia. The city’s location allowed traders to avoid pirates who infested other routes, making it a safe and efficient way to transport goods. The trading network that developed in Malacca was a crucial link in the global economy, connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Legacy of Malacca

Although Malacca fell under the control of the Portuguese in the 16th century, its legacy lived on. The city’s historical significance is recognized today as it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Visitors can explore the remains of historical sites such as A Famosa Fort, St. Paul’s Church, and the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum.


In conclusion, Malacca played a significant role in AP World History as it was a critical trading port that connected East Asia and South Asia. Its strategic location on the Strait of Malacca made it an ideal destination for traders from various regions, contributing to the development of global trade networks. The legacy of Malacca lives on today through its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.