Terengganu's strategic location facing the South China Sea made it an important trade center in ancient times. Early records indicate that it had trading relations with China. Even the famous Admiral Zheng He actually stopped for freshwater & other supplies in Kuala Terengganu on his way across the globe. Terengganu has also long been an important Malay settlement with descendants coming from the Yunnan district, Indian continent and the Indonesian archipelago. Recent archaeological sites found in Bewah Cave in Kenyir Lake indicate the existence of early settlements as far back as 4,000BC. The discovery of Batu Bersurat (Inscribed Stone) in Kuala Berang marks an important historical and religious significance. The stone was inscribed with the Malay Arabic Jawi language which contains the Islamic decree proving the acceptance of Islamic teachings by King Mandalika dated 1303 AD.
The Terengganu Sultanate originated almost 300 years ago when Tun Zainal Abidin became the first Sultan (Sultan Zainal Abidin I) in 1708. The current ruler is Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the 16th Sultan, who was proclaimed ruler of the state on May 15, 1998, becoming the youngest ruler in Malaysia. Terengganu became a member of the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and a state of independent Malaya in 1957.
The state has a population of approximately 1 million of which 90% are Malays, followed by the Chinese and Indians and a very small percentage of aborigines.