MALAYSIA AT A GLANCE
Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a federation of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. The first several years of the country’s history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore’s secession from the federation in 1965.
The Federation of Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
Located between 2 and 7 degrees north of the Equator, Peninsula Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. To the north of Peninsula Malaysia is Thailand while its southern neighbour is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.
329,758 sq km. POPULATION 22 million. CAPITAL Kuala Lumpur.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE::
Malaysia has a combined population of over 25 million people. Because of its central location, between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Malaysia has traditionally been a meeting point for traders and travelers from both the East and West. As a result, Malaysia has a multicultural and multiracial population consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and numerous indigenous peoples. Although Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in business, and the English language is a compulsory subject in all schools. With such a varying ethnic composition, it is no surprise that a great diversity of religions is prevalent throughout Malaysia. Although the official religion is Islam, freedom of worship is practiced. As a result, it is a common to see temples, mosques and churches within the same area.
Ethnic Groups: 59% Malay and other indigenous, 32% Chinese and 9% Indian.
Languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Mandarin, Hakka dialects, Cantonese, Tamil and numerous tribal languages.
Religion: Muslim (primarily Malays), Buddhism (Chinese), Hindu (Indian), Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism and tribal religions.
Such a diversity of ethnic groups inevitably features a large number of spoken languages. The official local language is Bahasa Melayu, but then English is widely spoken as are a number of Chinese dialects. Various other languages are spoken and East Malaysia features several other indigenous languages.
With such obvious diversity it is remarkable that racial tension is not a constant problem but clearly the gentleness and tolerance of the local population contributes to a real spirit of peace and harmony.
Islam is the official religion but all other religions are practised freely.
Parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislative system. The Head of State is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister.
Tropical climate with warm weather all year round. Temperatures range from 21 °C to 32°C. Annual rainfall varies from 2000mm to 2500mm.
HISTORY AND CULTURE::
There is a strong interlink between the country’s multi-racial and multicultural make-up and its history. Besides the local Malays and the native groups, immigrants from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world have all contributed to the multiracial composition of its population. Its interesting cultural diversity can be largely attributed to the country’s long and on-going interaction with the outside world and colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Consequently the evolution of the country into a cultural melting pot is evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural activities and traditions, dressing, languages and food.
The country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as the Federation of Malaya and subsequently with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, Malaysia was formed
Manufacturing constitutes the largest single component of Malaysia’s economy. Tourism and primary commodities such as petroleum, palm oil, natural rubber and timber are major contributors to its economy.
Official name: Malaysia
Area: 330,252 km²
Geographical situation: The country of Malaysia consists of the Peninsular Malaysia, which is part of mainland Southeast Asia, and the states of Sabah and Sarawak (east Malaysia) on the northern edges of the island of Borneo.
Principal natural resources: Tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite.
Population: 31,190,000 inhabitants (as of 22 July 2016)
Density: 95 inhabitants/ km²
Population groups: 50.1% of the population are Malay, 22.6% are Chinese, 11.8% are indigenous Bumiputra groups other than the Malays, 6.7% are Indian, and other groups account for 0.7%. Non-citizens account for 8.2% of Malaysia’s resident population.
Capital: Kuala Lumpur (7,200,000)
Main cities: George Town of Penang (2,412,616); Ipoh (657,892); Johor Bahru (497,067); Malacca City (484,855); Kota Kinabalu (452,058)
Religions: Islam – 61.3%; Buddhism – 19.8%; Christianity – 9.2%; Hindu – 6.3%; Confucianism, Taoism & other tradition Chinese religion – 1.3%; other religion – 0.4%
Languages: Malay (the official language); other main languages: Chinese (Min Nan, Hakka, Mandarin and Min Dong), English, Tamil, Iban (in Sarawak), Banjar (in Sabah). There are 140 languages spoken in Malaysia (peninsular Malaysia 40, Sabah 54, Sarawak 46)
Entry requirements: Every person entering Malaysia must possess a valid national Passport or internationally recognised Travel Document valid for travelling to Malaysia. Any person not in possession of a Passport or Travel Document which is recognised by the Malaysian Government must obtain a Document in lieu of Passport. For more information: http://www.imi.gov.my/index.php/en/entry-requirements-into-malaysia.html
Administrative Division: 13 States, 146 Districts, 3 Federal Territory, 1 Federal State