Historically, Pangkor was a refuge for local fishermen, merchants and pirates. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in an effort to control the Perak tin trade. In 1874, it was the location of a historic treaty between a contender to the Perak throne and the British government (The Pangkor Treaty), which began the British colonial domination of the Malay Peninsula.
Pangkor is famous for its fine beaches and a mix of low budget to 5 star accommodations. Teluk Nipah and Coral Bay on the north west of the island is extremely popular with travellers from Europe. The quality of sand is far more superior in the Pasir Bogak Beach as compared to elsewhere on the island. The sand is golden brown, quite similar to most leading prime beaches.
Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and to a lesser extent the West Coast of Malaysia in December 2004, there has been less local tourists visiting Pangkor.
In 2006, a biotechnology centre, a joint venture of Global Hi-Q Malaysia S/B and Hi-Q Bio-Tech International (Taiwan) Ltd has began operations with initial investments of RM100million (USD30m). Their operations include fish farming, aquaculture and the first harvest is expected in 2009.