I've just spent a great weekend in Melaka (or Malacca), a town famous for its location in the Straits of Melaka where many ships make their passage from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.
This settlement was initially occupied by indigenous people, pre-cursors to todays Malays. Then starting in 151, they were colonized and conquered first by the Portuguese and then by the Dutch and then the British. The Europeans were attracted by Melaka's location in the pivotal strait and by the possibilities of trade. Together with Gujaratis, Arabs, Chinese, all left their imprint on the cultural landscape.