Culture History Language Weirdness

Why do we call it Negeri Sembilan if there are only 7 districts?

Khairy Jamaluddin’s hometown of Negeri Sembilan is one of the more unique states on the Malay peninsula; not only do they not have a Sultan (they have a Yang di-Pertuan Besar), they’ve also got a matrilineal (inheritance favors the female line) social custom, known as Adat Perpatih. Oh, and of course, they make some pretty good masak lemak dishes, heavily influenced by Minangkabau culture.

Selero Nogoghi is best selero. Image from: Rileklah

And when it comes to Negeri Sembilan, as its name implies, 9 is the magic number.


The name ‘Negeri Sembilan’ comes from the 9 chiefdoms that made up the original state

Originally home to various Orang Asli tribes, Negeri Sembilan received an influx of Sumatran Minangkabau settlers from Sumatra in the 15th century. When Raja Melewar took the throne from the then-monarch Raja Khatib, Negeri Sembilan was simply a loose confederation of nine luaks (chiefdoms), namely Sungai Ujong, Jelebu, Rembau, Johol, Jelai, Ulu Pahang, Naning, Segamat, and Klang. These were united as one under the reign of Raja Melewar in 1773, giving the state the name Negeri Sembilan.

negeri sembilan

Old (left) vs. new (right). Maps by Derkommander0916 and NS Official Portal.

Eventually, four of those chiefdoms were annexed into neighbouring states: Naning to Melaka, Ulu Pahang to Bera in Pahang, Segamat to Johor, and Klang to Kuala Langat in Selangor. Negeri Sembilan as we know it today is now a much smaller version with 7 districts, despite retaining the name. And that’s their (heavily simplified) origin story.

From being disowned to cycling 150km before work. How 5 Malaysians became cycling legends

If you want to discover more interesting origins of our states’ names, pick one from the list below!

Kedah | Terengganu | Kelantan | Perlis | Johor

Selangor | Penang | Perak | Pahang | Malacca

Negeri Sembilan | Sabah | Sarawak | Federal Territories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Here at CILISOS, we believe that the only way to consume information is with a serious dose of flavour. Our aim is to make mundane things like news and current events entertaining, and informative, hopefully in equal measure. Read More

The Serious Legal Stuff


Cilisos Media Sdn. Bhd. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

To Top
Send this to a friend