Terengganu’s location along the main ancient sea routes attracted traders from the four corners of the world. With archipelago of islands as a shelter from vicious monsoon winds, it was little wonder that Terengganu became a trading post. Terengganu’s history predates the establishment of the Melaka Sultanate. Straddling the ancient trade routes, it was, according to records from the Chinese merchants and other seafarers from as early as sixth century, under the influence of Srivijaya and traded extensively with the Majapahit Empire, the Khmer Empire, the Arab, the Indian and of course, the Chinese. The name Terengganu was mentioned as Teng-Ya-Nu by a Chinese scholar, Coo-Cu-Fei in his book Ling-Wai-Fai-Ta in 1178AD. He mentioned a place named Foloan which was identified as Kuala Berang, the capital district of Hulu Terengganu. Another Chinese historian, Cao-Ju-Kua did not miss Teng-ya-nung when he authored Cu-Fan-Cih in 1226AD.
In the year 150 AD, Ptolemy, a renowned Greek scholar mentioned in his journal of two important trading post in the east coast region of the Golden Chersonese (Peninsular Malaya) which was identified as Kole and Perimula. Both believed to be ports of call for coastal traders. Kole was said to be in Kemaman while Perimula was believed to be Kuala Terengganu.
Terengganu was the first Malay state to accept Islam, as attested to by a stone dated 1303 AD engraved with Roman Arabic inscriptions found in Kuala Berang. The Inscripted Stone (Batu Bersurat) discovered by Sayed Hussein Ghulam Al-Bukhari in 1902 in Kampung Buluh, Kuala Berang bore the word Terenkanu inscribed in Jawi, an Arabic Romanized version.
The stone tablet or famously known as the Batu Bersurat of Terengganu constitutes the earliest evidence of Jawi writings based on Arabic alphabets in the Malay Peninsula. The stone is also the testimony that Islam as the official religion in Terengganu, earlier than the Malacca Sultanate.
The archeological findings at Bewah and Taat caves in Hulu Terengganu were carbon dated to be from the Mesolithic era circa 16,000 years ago proves one of the earliest settlements in the Malay Peninsula. Terengganu was inhabited well before the turn of the first millennium.