Kelantan is positioned in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Narathiwat Province of Thailand to the north, Terengganu to the south-east, Perak to the west, and Pahang to the south. To the north-east of Kelantan is the South China Sea. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim, ("The Blissful Abode").
Kelantan, which is said to translate as the "Land of Lightning", is an agrarian state with lush paddy fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Kelantan is home to some of the most ancient archaeological discoveries in Malaysia, including several prehistoric aboriginal settlements.
Due to Kelantan's relative isolation and largely rural lifestyle, Kelantanese culture differs somewhat from Malay culture in the rest of the peninsula; this is reflected in the cuisine, arts, and the peculiar Kelantanese Malay dialect, which is unintelligible even for some speakers of standard Malay.