All roads away from Kuala Lumpur lead to the state of Selangor, Malaysia's most populated and prosperous state. Selangor surrounds the burgeoning capital with green suburban arms and industrial tracks, but as the city is left behind, a different, older and more natural order quickly unfolds.
To the west is the Klang Valley, whose tin mines were inextricably linked to the history and development of modern Malaysia. It was here that much of Malaysia's Civil War was played out. Continuing past the city of Klang, one eventually comes to Port Klang, where sampans come and go. Both to the north and south, Selangor is dominated by fishing villages on the coast and the Kampung inland. Heading east from KL, it is not the ocean but hills and forests that dominate. This is the beginning of the lush Malaysian heartland, and the spiritual connection to the landscape first takes hold at the extraordinary Batu Caves. Even further inland are the Genting Highlands, one of Malaysia's finest hill stations.
Any direction one takes in Selangor eventually leads to some sight that is deeply connected to Malaysia's development; a tin mine, an oil-palm or rubber plantation - for this reason, the state is often called "the heart of modern Malaysia."
Selangor, with an area of approximately 8,000 sq. km, extends along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia at the northern outlet of the Straits of Malacca. Its advantageous geographic position and rich natural resources have made Selangor the most prosperous state in Malaysia. Today it has the distinction of being the most populated state in Malaysia, with about 3.75 million inhabitants. A large proportion of Selangor's population lives around the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, though the balance is now shifting towards its new capital, Shah Alam.