People and Places


West Coast Malay Peninsula: The case of the
Kingdom of Melaka


Malacca is an example of kingdom based on trade, not agriculture. Students will discover how living in coastal areas encouraged commercial interactions and brought different groups of people together despite differences in language and religion.

Subject History / Social Studies
Topic West Coast Malay Peninsula: Malacca in the 15th to 16th Centuries
Key idea Across time, people respond to the varied natural environment of a region in multiple ways which shapes
their worldviews and way of life.
Key concepts Environment, highlands, lowlands, coastlands
People, worldviews, way of life
Commonalities and diversities
Level Lower secondary
No. of periods / lessons 1 period (1 period is approximately 50 minutes)
Facilities needed Sources and handouts for distribution
Prerequisite knowledge: No prerequisite knowledge required

Learning objectives
By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to:

  1. Define what coastlands are and identify key
    attributes of coastlands.
  2. Explain the rationale for the location of early
    port cities developing along the coasts.
  3. Describe the way location in coastlands has shaped agricultural activities in these areas.

  1. Analyse images to draw out attributes of a
    place and communities.

  2. Examine artefacts to recognize the
    interaction that came to these port cities
    via trade.
  1. Demonstrate awareness that people respond
    in multiple ways to the environment, which
    can influence their way of life.
  2. Cooperate in groups to complete task


Download the lesson plan for details on the talks and activities suggested below.

1. Introduction to topic

Comparing photographs of various coastland areas in Southeast Asia, students discuss the commonalities and diversities among these communities.

2. Source (map) analysis

Students look at a map of the region and discuss why people settled on the coasts and what they did for living.

3. Teacher talk

The kingdom of Melaka is an example of entrepôt. It developed as a major trading center during the 15th – 16th century. The population was ethnically and culturally diverse.


4. Group work: Source (image/artefact) study

In small groups, students observe  a picture of an artefact that was found in Melaka and guess where the artefact came from.  The artefacts reveal that goods and people came to Melaka from all parts of the world via global trade networks

5. Reflection

Students reflect and write about what they would do if they moved to live in a coastland.