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Malaysia

Malaysia

Overview
Malaysia is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329847 square kilometres (127,354.6 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

 and Malaysian Borneo
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

. Land borders are shared with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

, and maritime borders exist with Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, while Putrajaya
Putrajaya
Putrajaya is a planned city, located 25km south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to the overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur areas...

 is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population exceeded 27.5 million.

Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.
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Timeline

1786   Captain Francis Light establishes the British colony of Penang in Malaysia

1816   The Penang Free School is founded in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, by the Rev Hutchings. It is the oldest English-language school in Southeast Asia.

1923   The first Prefects Board in Southeast Asia is formed in Victoria Institution, Malaysia.

1934   SMJK Sam Tet is founded by Father Fourgs from the St. Michael Church, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

1957   The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gains its independence from the United Kingdom.

1957   Malaysia joins the United Nations.

1963   Sarawak, North Borneo and Singapore achieve technical Independance pending accension to the Federation of Malaysia

1963   Malaysia is formed from the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, British North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak. However, Singapore soon leaves this new country,

1965   Singapore is expelled from Malaysia and becomes the first and only country to date to gain independence unwillingly.

1967   The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

 
Encyclopedia
Malaysia is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329847 square kilometres (127,354.6 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

 into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

 and Malaysian Borneo
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

. Land borders are shared with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, and Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

, and maritime borders exist with Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, while Putrajaya
Putrajaya
Putrajaya is a planned city, located 25km south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to the overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur areas...

 is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population exceeded 27.5 million.

Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements
Straits Settlements
The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia.Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867...

, with the other states forming protectorates. The states on Peninsular Malaysia, then known as Malaya, were first unified as the Malayan Union
Malayan Union
The Malayan Union was a federation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government so as to simplify administration. The Malayan Union later became the independent...

 in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

 in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with Sabah
Sabah
Sabah is one of 13 member states of Malaysia. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south...

, Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

, and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 on 16 September 1963, with si being added to give the new country the name Malaysia. However, less than two years later in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation. Since independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism
Medical tourism
Medical tourism is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care...

.

The head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when the Federation of Malaya gained independence....

, an elected monarch
Elective monarchy
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected rather than hereditary monarch. The manner of election, the nature of the candidacy and the electors vary from case to case...

 chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Malaysia
The Prime Minister of Malaysia is the indirectly elected head of government of Malaysia. He is officially appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the head of state, who in HM's judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House of Representatives , the...

. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 and the legal system is based on English Common Law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural
Culture of Malaysia
The Culture of Malaysia draws on the varied cultures of the different people of Malaysia. The first people to live in the area were indigenous tribes that still remain; they were followed by the Malays, who moved there from mainland Asia in ancient times...

, factors that influence its culture and play a large role in politics. The secular constitution
Constitution of Malaysia
The Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which came into force in 1957, is the supreme law of Malaysia. The Federation was initially called the Federation of Malaya and it adopted its present name, Malaysia, when the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined the Federation...

 declared Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 the state religion while protecting freedom of religion.

Malaysia contains the southernmost point of continental Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

, Tanjung Piai
Tanjung Piai
Tanjung Piai is a cape in Johor which is the southernmost point of Peninsular Malaysia and thus the most southern point of mainland Asia. The skyline of Singapore is visible across the Johor Strait from the point...

, and is located near the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 and has a tropical
Tropics
The tropics is a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately  N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at  S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth...

 climate. It has a biodiverse
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 range of flora and fauna
Wildlife of Malaysia
The Wildlife of Malaysia are some of the most diverse on earth, with Malaysia being a Megadiverse country. The majority of the country is covered in rainforest, which hosts a huge diversity of plant and animal species. There are approximately 210 mammal species, 620 bird species, 250 reptile...

, and is considered a megadiverse country
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region...

, the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, and the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

.

Etymology


The word Melayu is thought to derive from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 term Malaiur or Malayadvipa, which can be translated as "land of mountains", the word used by ancient India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n traders when referring to the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

. Other theories propose it originates from the Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 word Malai, meaning "mountain". The term was later used as the name of the Melayu Kingdom
Melayu Kingdom
Melayu Kingdom was a classical Southeast Asian kingdom that existed between the 7th and the 13th century of the common era. It was established around present-day Dharmasraya on Sumatera, Indonesia, approximately 300 km north of Palembang...

, which existed between the 7th and the 13th centuries on Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

.

Following his 1826 expedition in Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

, French navigator Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville was a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.-Childhood:Dumont was born at Condé-sur-Noireau...

 invented the terms Malaysia, Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

and Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

, distinguishing these Pacific cultures and island groups from the already existing term Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

. In 1831, he proposed these terms to the Société de Géographie
Société de Géographie
The Société de Géographie , is the world's oldest geographical society. It was founded in 1821 . Since 1878, its headquarters has been at 184 Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris. The entrance is marked by two gigantic caryatids representing Land and Sea...

. Dumont d'Urville described Malaysia as "an area commonly known as the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

". In 1850, the English ethnologist George Samuel Windsor Earl, writing in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, proposed naming the islands of Southeast Asia as Melayunesia or Indunesia, favouring the former.

In 1957, the Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

 was declared as an independent federation of the Malay states on the Malay Peninsula. The name "Malaysia" was adopted in 1963 when the existing states of the Federation of Malaya, plus Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak formed a new federation, with "si" being added to Malaya in honour of the three joining states. Prior to that, the name itself had been used to refer to the whole Malay Archipelago. Politicians in the Philippines once contemplated naming their state "Malaysia", but in 1963 Malaysia adopted the name first. At the time of the 1963 federation, other names were considered: among them was Langkasuka
Langkasuka
Langkasuka was an ancient Hindu Malay kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula...

, after the historic kingdom located at the upper section of the Malay Peninsula in the 1st millennium CE.

History



Evidence of human habitation in Malaysia dates back 40,000 years, with the first inhabitants thought to be Negritos. Traders and settlers from India and China arrived as early as the 1st century AD, establishing trading ports and towns in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This resulted in strong Indian and Chinese influence on the local cultures, and the people of the Malay Peninsula adopted the religions of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 inscriptions appear as early as the 4th or 5th century. The Kingdom of Langkasuka
Langkasuka
Langkasuka was an ancient Hindu Malay kingdom located in the Malay Peninsula...

 arose around the 2nd century in the northern area of the Malay Peninsula, lasting until about the 15th century. Between the 7th and the 13th century, much of the south of the Malay Peninsula was under the Srivijaya
Srivijaya
Srivijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. The earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6...

 empire. After the fall of Srivijaya, the Majapahit empire had influence over most of Peninsular Malaysia and the Malay Archipelago. In the early 15th century, Parameswara, a prince of the former Srivijayan empire, founded the Malacca Sultanate
Malacca Sultanate
Established by the Malay ruler Parameswara, the Sultanate of Malacca was first a Hindu kingdom in 1402 and later became Muslim following the marriage of the princess of Pasai in 1409. Centered in the modern town of Malacca, the sultanate bordered the Ayutthaya Kingdom of Siam in the north to...

, commonly considered the first independent state in the peninsula. Parameswara became a Muslim, and due to this the conversion of Malays to Islam accelerated in the 15th century. Malacca was an important commercial centre during this time, attracting trade from around the region.
In 1511 Malacca was conquered by Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, after which it was taken by the Dutch in 1641. In 1786 the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 set foot in Malaya, when the Sultan of Kedah leased Penang
Penang
Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south. Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area after Perlis, and the...

 to the British East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. The British obtained Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 in 1819, and in 1824 took control of Malacca following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty
Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824
The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London, was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in London on 17 March 1824. The treaty was to resolve disputes arising from the execution of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814...

. By 1826 the British directly controlled Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and the island of Labuan
Labuan
Labuan is a federal territory in East Malaysia. It is an island off the coast of the state of Sabah. Labuan's capital is Victoria and is best known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services via Labuan IBFC since 1990 as well as being an offshore support...

, which they established as the crown colony of the Straits Settlements
Straits Settlements
The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast Asia.Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a crown colony on 1 April 1867...

. By the 20th century, the states of Pahang
Pahang
Pahang is the third largest state in Malaysia, after Sarawak and Sabah, occupying the huge Pahang River river basin. It is bordered to the north by Kelantan, to the west by Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, to the south by Johor and to the east by Terengganu and the South China Sea.Its state...

, Selangor
Selangor
Selangor also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Ehsan, or "Abode of Sincerity") is one of the 13 states of Malaysia. It is on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and is bordered by Perak to the north, Pahang to the east, Negeri Sembilan to the south and the Strait of Malacca to the west...

, Perak
Perak
Perak , one of the 13 states of Malaysia, is the second largest state in the Peninsular Malaysia bordering Kedah and Yala Province of Thailand to the north, Penang to the northwest, Kelantan and Pahang to the east, Selangor the Strait of Malacca to the south and west.Perak means silver in Malay...

, and Negeri Sembilan
Negeri Sembilan
Negeri Sembilan, one of the 13 states that constitutes Malaysia, lies on the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia, just south of Kuala Lumpur and borders Selangor on the north, Pahang in the east, and Malacca and Johor to the south....

, known together as the Federated Malay States
Federated Malay States
The Federated Malay States was a federation of four protected states in the Malay Peninsula—Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang—established by the British government in 1895, which lasted until 1946, when they, together with the Straits Settlements and the Unfederated Malay...

, had British Residents
Resident (title)
A Resident, or in full Resident Minister, is a government official required to take up permanent residence in another country. A representative of his government, he officially has diplomatic functions which are often seen as a form of indirect rule....

 appointed to advise the Malay rulers, to whom the rulers were bound to defer by treaty. The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States
Unfederated Malay States
The term Unfederated Malay States was the collective name given to five British protected states in the Malay peninsula in the first half of the twentieth century. These states were Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu...

, while not directly under British rule, also accepted British advisers around the turn of the 20th century. Development on the Peninsula and Borneo were generally separate until the 19th century. Sabah was governed as the crown colony of British North Borneo
North Borneo
North Borneo was a British protectorate under the sovereign North Borneo Chartered Company from 1882 to 1946. After the war it became a crown colony of Great Britain from 1946 to 1963, known in this time as British North Borneo. It is located on the northeastern end of the island of Borneo. It is...

 after it was leased from the Sultanate of Sulu in 1878. In 1842, Sarawak was ceded by the Sultan of Brunei to James Brooke
James Brooke
James, Rajah of Sarawak, KCB was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. His father, Thomas Brooke, was an English Judge Court of Appeal at Bareilly, British India; his mother, Anna Maria, born in Hertfordshire, was the illegitimate daughter of Scottish peer Colonel William Stuart, 9th Lord Blantyre,...

, whose successors ruled as the White Rajahs
White Rajahs
White Rajahs refers to a dynasty that founded and ruled the Kingdom of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946, namely the Brookes, who came originally from England. A Rajah is a monarch in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.-Rulers:...

 over an independent kingdom
Kingdom of Sarawak
The Kingdom of Sarawak was a state in Borneo established by Sir James Brooke in 1842 by receiving independent kingdom status from the Sultanate of Brunei as a reward for helping fight piracy and insurgency...

 until 1946, when it became a British colony.

In the Second World War the Japanese army invaded
Japanese Invasion of Malaya
The Japanese Invasion of Malaya, or Battle of Kota Bharu, began just after midnight on 8 December 1941 before the attack on Pearl Harbor...

 and subsequently occupied Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore for over three years. During this time, ethnic tensions were raised and nationalism grew. Popular support for independence increased after Malaya was reconquered by Allied Forces. Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union
Malayan Union
The Malayan Union was a federation of the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. It was the successor to British Malaya and was conceived to unify the Malay Peninsula under a single government so as to simplify administration. The Malayan Union later became the independent...

 met with strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the weakening of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese
Malaysian Chinese
Malaysian Chinese is a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Most are descendants of Chinese who arrived between the fifteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. Within Malaysia, they are usually simply referred to as "Chinese" in all languages. The term Chinese Malaysian is also sometimes used to refer to...

. The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in the Malay Peninsula with the exception of Singapore, was quickly dissolved and replaced by the Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection. During this time, rebels under the leadership of the Malayan Communist Party
Malayan Communist Party
The Malayan Communist Party , officially known as the Communist Party of Malaya , was founded in 1930 and laid down its arms in 1989. It is most famous for its role in the Malayan Emergency.-Formation:...

 launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

 lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 troops in Malaya. In 1963 Malaya, along with the then British crown colonies of Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore, federated to form Malaysia. The proposed date of federation was 31 August 1963, however, the date was delayed until 16 September 1963 due to opposition from Indonesia's Sukarno
Sukarno
Sukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo was the first President of Indonesia.Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and was Indonesia's first President from 1945 to 1967...

 and the Sarawak United Peoples' Party.


Independence brought heightened tensions including a conflict with Indonesia
Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation during 1962–1966 was Indonesia’s political and armed opposition to the creation of Malaysia. It is also known by its Indonesian/Malay name Konfrontasi...

 over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore's eventual exit in 1965, and racial strife which caused the 13 May race riots in 1969. After the riots, the controversial New Economic Policy
Malaysian New Economic Policy
The Malaysian New Economic Policy , was an ambitious and controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the Malaysian government in 1971 under the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. The NEP ended in 1990, and was succeeded by the National Development Policy in...

 was launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, trying to increase the share of the economy held by the bumiputra. The country has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, with a system of government that has attempted to combine overall economic development with political and economic policies that promote equitable participation of all races.

Under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad there was a period of rapid economic growth and urbanisation beginning in the 1980s. This period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry. The physical landscape of the country changed with the emergence of numerous mega-projects, such as the Petronas Towers, the North-South Expressway, the Multimedia Super Corridor
MSC Malaysia
MSC Malaysia . The Multimedia Super Corridor program was launched by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia , circa 1996...

, and the new federal administrative capital of Putrajaya
Putrajaya
Putrajaya is a planned city, located 25km south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to the overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur areas...

. In the late 1990s, the Asian financial crisis almost caused the collapse of the currency and the stock and property markets. Political unrest was caused by the dismissal of the deputy prime minister Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim
Anwar Ibrahim
Anwar bin Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician who served as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998. Early in his career, Anwar was a close ally of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of Mahathir's government.In 1999, he was sentenced...

. In November 2007 two anti-government rallies occurred, precipitated by allegations of corruption and discrepancies in the election system that heavily favoured the ruling political party, National Front, which had been in power since Malaya achieved independence.

Governance




Malaysia is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 constitutional
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 elective monarchy
Elective monarchy
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected rather than hereditary monarch. The manner of election, the nature of the candidacy and the electors vary from case to case...

. The system of government is closely modelled on that of the Westminster
Westminster System
The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government modelled after the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

 parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. The head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the king. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected to a five-year term by and from among the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay states; the other four states, which have titular Governors, do not participate in the selection. By informal agreement the position is systematically rotated among the nine, and has been held by Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu since 2007. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's role has been mostly ceremonial since changes to the constitution
Constitution of Malaysia
The Federal Constitution of Malaysia, which came into force in 1957, is the supreme law of Malaysia. The Federation was initially called the Federation of Malaya and it adopted its present name, Malaysia, when the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined the Federation...

 in 1994.

Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. The bicameral federal parliament
Parliament of Malaysia
The Parliament of Malaysia is the national legislature of Malaysia, based on the Westminster system. The bicameral parliament consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The King as the Head of State is the third component of Parliament....

 consists of the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, the House of Representatives and the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

, the Senate. The 222-member House of Representatives is elected for a maximum term of five years from single-member constituencies, which are determined based on population. All 70 senators sit for three-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, and the remaining 44 are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong upon the Prime Minister's recommendation. The parliament follows a multi-party system and the government is elected through a first-past-the-post
First-past-the-post
First-past-the-post voting refers to an election won by the candidate with the most votes. The winning potato candidate does not necessarily receive an absolute majority of all votes cast.-Overview:...

 system. Since independence Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition known as the Barisan Nasional
Barisan Nasional
Barisan Nasional is a major political coalition in Malaysia, formed in 1973 as the successor to the Alliance . Along with its predecessor, it has been Malaysia's federal ruling political force since independence...

.

Each state has a unicameral State Legislative Assembly whose members are elected from single-member constituencies. State governments are led by Chief Ministers, who are state assembly members from the majority party in the assembly. In each of the states with a hereditary ruler, the Chief Minister is required to be a Malay, appointed by the ruler upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections
Elections in Malaysia
Elections in Malaysia exist at two levels: national level and state level. National level elections are those for membership in the Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of Parliament, while state level elections are for membership in the various State Legislative Assemblies...

 are held at least once every five years, the most recent of which took place in March 2008. Registered voters of age 21 and above may vote for the members of the House of Representatives and, in most of the states, for the state legislative chamber. Voting is not mandatory. Except for elections in Sarawak, all state elections are held concurrently with the federal election.


Executive power is vested in the Cabinet
Cabinet of Malaysia
The Cabinet of Malaysia is the executive branch of Malaysia's government. Led by the Prime Minister, the cabinet is a council of ministers who are accountable collectively to the Parliament. According to the Article 43 of the Constitution, members of the Cabinet can only be selected from members...

, led by the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Malaysia
The Prime Minister of Malaysia is the indirectly elected head of government of Malaysia. He is officially appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the head of state, who in HM's judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House of Representatives , the...

. The prime minister must be a member of the house of representatives, in the opinion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commands a majority in parliament. The cabinet is chosen from members of both houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister is both the head of cabinet and the head of government. The incumbent, Najib Razak, appointed in 2009, and is the sixth prime minister since independence.

Malaysia's legal system
Law of Malaysia
The law of Malaysia is mainly based on the common law legal system. This was a direct result of the colonization of Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo by Britain between the early 19th century to 1960s. The supreme law of the land—the Constitution of Malaysia—sets out the legal framework...

 is based on English Common Law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

. Although the judiciary is theoretically independent, supporters of the government hold many judicial positions. The highest court in the judicial system is the Federal Court
Federal Court of Malaysia
The Federal Court of Malaysia is the highest court and the final appellate court in Malaysia. It is housed in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya...

, followed by the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal of Malaysia
The Court of Appeal is an appellate court of the judiciary system in Malaysia. It is the second highest court in the hierarchy below the Federal Court. This court was created in 1994 as part of reforms made to the judiciary to create a second tier appellate court after the Privy Council appeals...

 and two high courts
High Courts of Malaysia
The High Courts in Malaysia are the third-highest courts in the hierarchy of courts, after the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal. Article 121 of the Constitution of Malaysia provides that there shall be two High Courts of coordinate jurisdiction—the High Court in Malaya and the High Court...

, one for Peninsular Malaysia and one for East Malaysia. Malaysia also has a special court to hear cases brought by or against Royalty. Separate from the civil courts are the Syariah Court
Syariah Court
Syariah refers to Sharia law in Islamic religious law and deals with exclusively Islamic laws, having jurisdiction upon every Muslim in Malaysia. The dual-system of law in Malaysia is provided for in Article 121 of the Constitution of Malaysia. The Syariah Court system is one of the two separate...

s, which decide on cases which involve Malaysian Muslims and run parallel to the normal court system. The Internal Security Act
Internal Security Act (Malaysia)
The Internal Security Act 1960 is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. The legislation was enacted after Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957. The ISA allows for detention without trial or criminal charges under limited, legally defined circumstances...

 allows detention without trial, and the death penalty is in use for crimes such as drug trafficking.

Race is a significant force in politics, and many of the political parties are ethnically based. Actions such as the New Economic Policy
Malaysian New Economic Policy
The Malaysian New Economic Policy , was an ambitious and controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the Malaysian government in 1971 under the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. The NEP ended in 1990, and was succeeded by the National Development Policy in...

 and the National Development Policy
National Development Policy
The National Development Policy replaced the Malaysian New Economic Policy in 1990 but continued to pursue most of NEP policies. The Malay share of the economy, though substantially larger, was not near the 30% target according to government figures...

 which superseded it, were implemented to advance the standing of the bumiputra, who are considered the original inhabitants of Malaysia, over non-bumiputra such as Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indians. These policies provide preferential treatment to Malays over non-Malays in employment, education, scholarships, business, and access to cheaper housing and assisted savings. However, it has generated greater interethnic resentment. Debate exists over whether the country should be secular or Islamic. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party has passed Islamic legislation in state parliaments, but these have been blocked by the federal government.

Foreign relations and military


Malaysia's foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. It seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the region and portray itself as a progressive Islamic nation. The government attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, and has tried to strengthen relations with other Islamic states. A strong tenet of Malaysia's policy is national sovereignty and the right of a country to control its domestic affairs.

A founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), the country participates in many international organisations such as the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim countries that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region...

, the Developing 8 Countries
Developing 8 Countries
The Developing 8 are a group of developing countries with large Muslim populations that have formed an economic development alliance. It consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.-History:The D-8 was founded by Necmettin Erbakan, former Turkish Prime...

, and the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 (NAM). It has chaired ASEAN, the OIC, and the NAM in the past. A former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. Kuala Lumpur was the site of the first East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...

 in 2005.

The policy towards territorial disputes by the government is one of pragmatism, with the government solving disputes in a number of ways, such as bringing the case to the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

. The Spratly Islands
Spratly Islands
The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia , about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. They comprise less than four square kilometers of land...

 are disputed by many states in the area, although tensions have eased since the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Brunei and Malaysia in 2008 announced an end to claims of each other's land, and to resolve issues related to their maritime borders. The Philippines has a dormant claim to Sabah
Sabah dispute
North Borneo dispute refers to the status of northeastern part of the state of Sabah in Malaysia. Sabah was previously known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963...

. Singapore's land reclamation has caused tensions, and maritime border disputes exist with Indonesia.
Malaysia has never recognised Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and has no diplomatic ties with it. It has remained a strong supporter of the State of Palestine
State of Palestine
Palestine , officially declared as the State of Palestine , is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization's National Council adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence...

, and has called for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 over the Gaza flotilla raid
Gaza flotilla raid
The Gaza flotilla raid was a military operation by Israel against six ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" on 31 May 2010 in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Malaysian peacekeeping forces are present in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and have contributed to many other UN peacekeeping missions.

Malaysian defence requirements are assigned to the Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia – ATM). The armed forces has three branches, the Royal Malaysian Navy
Royal Malaysian Navy
The Royal Malaysian Navy is the naval arm of Malaysian Armed Forces. All commissioned ships of the RMN have the prefix KD , which means Royal Ship.-Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve:...

 (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia – TLDM), the Malaysian Army
Malaysian Army
The Malaysian Army is the land component of the Malaysian Armed Forces. Steeped in British Army traditions, the Malaysian Army does not carry the title ‘royal’ as do the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy...

 (Tentera Darat Malaysia – TD), and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia – TUDM). There is no conscription, and the required age for voluntary military service is 18. The military uses 1.9 per cent of the country's GDP, and hires 1.23 per cent of Malaysia's manpower.

The Five Power Defence Arrangements
Five Power Defence Arrangements
The Five Power Defence Arrangements are a series of defence relationships established by a series of bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore signed in 1971, whereby the five states will consult each other in the event of external aggression...

 is a regional security initiative which has been in place for almost 40 years. It involves joint military exercises held among Malaysia, Singapore, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and the United Kingdom. Joint exercises and war games have been held with Indonesia for years. Malaysia and the Philippines have agreed to host joint security force exercises in order to secure their maritime border and tackle issues such as illegal immigration. There are fears that unrest in the Muslim areas of the southern Philippines and southern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 could spill over into Malaysia.

Subdivisions



Malaysia is made up of 13 states and three federal territories. These are divided between two regions, with 11 states and two federal territories on Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

 and the other two states and one federal territory in East Malaysia
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

. As Malaysia is a federation
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

, the governance of the states is divided between the federal and the state governments, while the Federal government has direct administration of the federal territories.

The 13 states are based on historical Malay Kingdoms, and 9 of the 11 Peninsular states, known as the Malay states, retain their royal families. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when the Federation of Malaya gained independence....

 is elected by and from the nine rulers
Conference of Rulers
The Conference of Rulers in Malaysia is a council comprising the nine rulers of the Malay states, and the governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the other four states...

 to serve a five-year term. Each state has a unicameral legislature known as the State Legislative Assembly. The states of East Malaysia (Sabah
Sabah
Sabah is one of 13 member states of Malaysia. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south...

 and Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

) have separate immigration policies and controls, and a unique residency status. For citizens of one of these states or Peninsular Malaysia, the other areas of Malaysia are considered foreign countries under immigration laws. Each state is further divided into districts
Districts of Malaysia
Districts in Malaysia are known as Daerah or Jajahan . A district governed directly by the federal government is known as a Federal Territory, and they are Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan....

, which are then divided into mukim
Mukim
In Brunei, a mukim is a subdivision of a daerah . The equivalent of the word 'mukim' in English would be 'sub-district'.In Malaysia, a mukim can either be a subdivision of a daerah or a subdivision of sub-district, In Singapore, a mukim is one of two varieties of survey...

. In Sabah and Sarawak districts are grouped into "Divisions".

The federal parliament
Parliament of Malaysia
The Parliament of Malaysia is the national legislature of Malaysia, based on the Westminster system. The bicameral parliament consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The King as the Head of State is the third component of Parliament....

 is permitted to legislate on issues of land, the Islamic religion and local government, in order to provide for a uniform law among different states, or on the request of the state assembly concerned. The law in question must also be passed by the state assembly as well, except in the case of certain land law-related subjects. Non-Islamic issues that fall under the purview of the state may also be legislated at the federal level for the purpose of conforming with Malaysian treaty obligations.

Geography


Malaysia is the 66th largest country by total land area, with a land area of 329847 square kilometres (127,355 sq mi). It has land borders
Borders of Malaysia
The borders of Malaysia include land and maritime borders with Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand and shared maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.-Brunei:Malaysia's border with Brunei is 481.3 km in length...

 with Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 in West Malaysia, and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and Brunei
Brunei
Brunei , officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia...

 in East Malaysia. It is linked to Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 by a narrow causeway, and also has maritime boundaries
Maritime boundary
Maritime boundary is a conceptual means of division of the water surface of the planet into maritime areas that are defined through surrounding physical geography or by human geography. As such it usually includes areas of exclusive national rights over the mineral and biological resources,...

 with Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and the Philippines. The land borders are defined in large part by geological features such as the Perlis River
Perlis River
Perlis River is a river in Perlis state Malaysia....

, Golok River and the Pagalayan Canal, whilst some of the maritime boundaries are the subject of ongoing contention. Brunei forms what is almost an enclave in Malaysia, with the state of Sarawak dividing it into two parts. Malaysia is the only country with territory on both the Asian mainland and the Malay archipelago, and Tanjung Piai
Tanjung Piai
Tanjung Piai is a cape in Johor which is the southernmost point of Peninsular Malaysia and thus the most southern point of mainland Asia. The skyline of Singapore is visible across the Johor Strait from the point...

, located in the southern state of Johor
Johor
Johor is a Malaysian state, located in the southern portion of Peninsular Malaysia. It is one of the most developed states in Malaysia. The state capital city and royal city of Johor is Johor Bahru, formerly known as Tanjung Puteri...

, is the southernmost tip of continental Asia. The Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca
The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 to 1511.-Extent:...

, lying between Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

 and Peninsular Malaysia, is one of the most important thoroughfares in global commerce, carrying 40 per cent of the world's trade.

The two parts of Malaysia, separated from each other by the South China Sea
South China Sea
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around...

, share a largely similar landscape in that both West
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

 (Peninsula) and East Malaysia
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

 feature coastal plains rising to hills and mountains. Peninsular Malaysia, containing 40 per cent of Malaysia's land area, extends 740 kilometres (460 mi) from north to south, and its maximum width is 322 kilometres (200 mi). It is divided between its east and west coasts by the Titiwangsa Mountains
Titiwangsa Mountains
The Titiwangsa Mountains are the main mountain range that forms the backbone of the Malay Peninsula.-Geology:...

, part of a series of mountain ranges running down the centre of the peninsula. These mountains are heavily forested, and mainly composed of granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 and other igneous rocks. Much of it has been eroded, creating a karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 landscape. The range is the origin of some of Peninsular Malaysia's river systems. The coastal plains surrounding the peninsula reach a maximum width of 50 kilometres (31 mi), and the peninsula's coastline is nearly 1931 kilometres (1,200 mi) long, although harbours are only available on the western side.
East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, has a coastline of 2607 kilometres (1,620 mi). It is divided between coastal regions, hills and valleys, and a mountainous interior. The Crocker Range
Crocker Range
Crocker Range , is a mountain range on the island of Borneo. Politically, it is within the boundary of the Malaysian state of Sabah, located in the northern half of Borneo. The mountain range separates the east coast and west coast of Sabah. At an average height of 1800m, it is the highest mountain...

 extends northwards from Sarawak, dividing the state of Sabah. It is the location of Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and is protected as Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site. Kinabalu is the tallest peak in Borneo's Crocker Range and is the tallest mountain in the Malay...

. Mount Kinabalu, at 4095.2 metres (13,435.7 ft), is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and is protected as Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park or Taman Negara Kinabalu in Malay, established as one of the first national parks of Malaysia in 1964, is Malaysia's first World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO in December 2000 for its "outstanding universal values" and the role as one of the most important biological...

, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. The highest mountain ranges form the border between Malaysia and Indonesia. Sarawak contains the Mulu Caves, the largest cave system in the world.

Around these two halves of Malaysia are numerous islands, the largest of which is Labuan
Labuan
Labuan is a federal territory in East Malaysia. It is an island off the coast of the state of Sabah. Labuan's capital is Victoria and is best known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services via Labuan IBFC since 1990 as well as being an offshore support...

. The local climate is equatorial
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 and characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

s. The temperature is moderated by the presence of the surrounding oceans. Humidity is usually high, and the average annual rainfall is 250 centimetres (98 in). The climates of the Peninsula and the East differ, as the climate on the peninsula is directly affected by wind from the mainland, as opposed to the more maritime weather of the East. Local climates can be divided into three regions, highland, lowland, and coastal. Climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 is likely to affect sea levels and rainfall, increasing flood risks and leading to droughts.

Biodiversity


Malaysia is a megadiverse country
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

 with a high number of species and high levels of endemism. It is estimated to contain 20 per cent of the world's animal species. There are about 210 mammal species in the country. High levels of endemism are found on the diverse forests of Borneo's mountains, as species are isolated from each other by lowland forest. Over 620 species of birds have been recorded in Peninsular Malaysia, with many endemic to the mountains there. A high number of endemic bird species are also found in Malaysian Borneo. 250 reptile species have been recorded in the country, with about 150 species of snakes and 80 species of lizards. There are about 150 species of frogs, and thousands of insect species. Malaysia's exclusive economic zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

 is 1.5 times larger than its land area, and some of its waters are in the Coral Triangle
Coral Triangle
The Coral Triangle is a geographical term so named as it refers to a roughly triangular area of the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste that contain at least 500 species of reef-building corals in each ecoregion...

, a biodiversity hotspot. The waters around Sipadan island are the most biodiverse in the world. Bordering East Malaysia, the Sulu Sea
Sulu Sea
The Sulu Sea is a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, separated from the South China Sea in the northwest by Palawan and from the Celebes Sea in the southeast by the Sulu Archipelago. Borneo is found to the southwest and Visayas to the northeast.Sulu Sea contains a number of...

 is a biodiversity hotspot, with around 600 coral species and 1200 fish species.

About two thirds of Malaysia is covered in forest, with some forests believed to be 130 million years old. It is composed of a variety of types, although they are mainly dipterocarp
Dipterocarpaceae
Dipterocarpaceae is a family of 17 genera and approximately 500 species of mainly tropical lowland rainforest trees. The family name, from the type genus Dipterocarpus, is derived from Greek and refers to the two-winged fruit...

 forests. Lowland forest occurs below 760 metres (2,493 ft), and formerly East Malaysia was covered in such rainforest, which is supported by its hot wet climate. There are around 14,500 species of flowering plants and trees. Besides rainforests, there are over 1425 square kilometres (550.2 sq mi) of mangroves in Malaysia, and a large amount of peat forest. At higher altitudes, oaks, chestnuts, and rhododendrons replace dipterocarps. There are an estimated 8,500 species of vascular plant
Vascular plant
Vascular plants are those plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water, minerals, and photosynthetic products through the plant. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, Equisetum, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms...

s in Peninsular Malaysia, with another 15,000 in the East. The forests of East Malaysia are estimated to be the habitat of around 2,000 tree species, and are one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, with 240 different species of trees every hectare. These forests host many members of the Rafflesia
Rafflesia
Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. It contains approximately 28 species , all found in southeastern Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand and the Philippines.Rafflesia was found in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide working for Dr...

 genus, the largest flowers in the world, with a maximum diameter of 1 metres (3 ft).


Logging, along with cultivation practices has devastated tree cover, causing severe environmental degradation in the country. Over 80 per cent of Sarawak's rainforest has been cleared. Floods in East Malaysia have been worsened by the loss of trees, and over 60 per cent of the Peninsular's forest have been cleared. With current rates of deforestation, the forests are predicted to be extinct by 2020. Deforestation is a major problem for fauna, as the forest is cut to make room for plantations. Most remaining forest is found inside national parks. Habitat destruction has proved a threat for marine life. Illegal fishing is another major threat, with fishing methods such as dynamite fishing and poisoning depleting marine ecosystems. Leatherback turtle numbers have dropped 98 per cent since the 1950s. Hunting has also been an issue for some animals, with overconsumption and the use of animal parts for profit endangering many animals, from marine life to tigers. Marine life is also detrimentally affected by uncontrolled tourism.

The Malaysian government aims to balance economic growth with environmental protection, but has been accused of favouring big business over the environment. Some state governments are now trying to counter the environmental impact and pollution created by deforestation; and the federal government is trying to cut logging by 10 per cent each year. 28 national parks have been established; 23 in East Malaysia and seven in the Peninsular. Tourism has been limited in biodiverse areas such as Sipadan island. Animal trafficking is a large issue, and the Malaysian government is holding talks with the governments of Brunei and Indonesia to standardise anti-trafficking laws.

Economy



Malaysia is a relatively open
Open economy
An open economy is an economy in which there are economic activities between domestic community and outside, e.g. people, including businesses, can trade in goods and services with other people and businesses in the international community, and flow of funds as investment across the border...

 state-oriented and newly industrialised market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5 per cent annually from 1957 to 2005. In 2010 the GDP per capita (PPP) was $414.400; billion, the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN and 29th largest economy in the world.
In the 1970s, the predominantly mining and agricultural-based economy began a transition towards a more multi-sector economy. Since the 1980s the industrial sector has led Malaysia's growth. High levels of investment played a significant role in this. The economy recovered from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis sooner than neighbouring countries, and has since recovered to the levels of the pre-crisis era with a GDP per capita of $14,800. Inequalities exist between different ethnic groups, with a major issue being that the Chinese minority accounts for 70 per cent of the country's market capitalisation, even though it only makes up about one-third of it.

International trade, facilitated by the adjacent Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca
The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 to 1511.-Extent:...

 shipping route, and manufacturing are key sectors of the country's economy. Malaysia is an exporter of natural and agricultural resources, the most valuable exported resource being petroleum. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

, rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

 and palm oil
Palm oil
Palm oil, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are edible plant oils derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis; palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel of the oil palm and coconut oil is derived from the kernel of the...

 in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy, although Malaysia’s economic structure has been moving away from it. Malaysia remains one of the worlds largest producers of palm oil.

In an effort to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on exported goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism to Malaysia
Tourism in Malaysia
Malaysia is a country in South-East Asia, located partly on a peninsula of the Asian mainland and partly on the northern third of the island of Borneo. West Malaysia shares a border with Thailand, is connected by a causeway and a bridge to the island state of Singapore, and has coastlines on the...

. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia’s third largest source of income from foreign exchange, although it is threatened by the negative effects of the growing industrial economy, with large amounts of air and water pollution along with deforestation affecting tourism. The country has developed into a centre of Islamic banking
Islamic banking
Islamic banking is banking or banking activity that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics. Sharia prohibits the fixed or floating payment or acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money...

, and is the country with the highest numbers of female workers in that industry. Knowledge-based services are also expanding.

Science policies in Malaysia
Science and technology in Malaysia
Science Policy in Malaysia is regulated by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. Other ministries, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health also have science departments. Training in scientific areas was promoted during the 1970s and 1980s...

 are regulated by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The country is one of the world's largest exporters of semiconductor devices, electrical goods, and information and communication technology products. Malaysia began developing its own its own space programme in 2002, and in 2006 Russia agreed to transport one Malaysian to the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 as part of a multi-billion dollar purchase of 18 Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter jets by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. In an effort to create a self-reliant defensive ability and support national development, Malaysia privatised some of its military facilities in the 1970s. This has created a defence industry, which in 1999 was brought under the Malaysia Defence Industry Council
Malaysia Defence Industry Council
The Malaysia Defence Industry Council , formed in 1999, is tasked with coordinating the orderly development of the Malaysia Defence Industry Sector. It is chaired by the Malaysian Minister of Defence, and involves 56 members from the private sector as well as from the Government...

. The government continues to try and promote this sector and its competitiveness, actively marketing the defence industry.

Demographics



As of the 2010 census, the population of Malaysia was 28,334,135, making it the 43rd most populated country. The population of Malaysia consists of many ethnic groups. Malays make up 50.4 per cent of the population, while other bumiputra make up another 11 per cent. According to constitutional definition, Malays are Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s who practice Malay customs and culture. They play a dominant role politically. Bumiputra status is also accorded to certain non-Malay indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

, including ethnic Thais
Thai people
The Thai people, or Siamese, are the main ethnic group of Thailand and are part of the larger Tai ethnolinguistic peoples found in Thailand and adjacent countries in Southeast Asia as well as southern China. Their language is the Thai language, which is classified as part of the Kradai family of...

, Khmers
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

, Chams and the natives of Sabah
Sabah
Sabah is one of 13 member states of Malaysia. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south...

 and Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

. Non-Malay bumiputra make up more than half of Sarawak's population and over two thirds of Sabah's population. There also exist aboriginal
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 groups in much smaller numbers on the peninsula, where they are collectively known as Orang Asli
Orang Asli
Orang Asli , is a generic Malaysian term used for people indigenous to Peninsular Malaysia...

. Laws over who gets bumiputra status vary between states.
Other minorities who lack bumiputra status make up a large amount of the population. 23.7 per cent of the population are of Chinese descent
Malaysian Chinese
Malaysian Chinese is a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Most are descendants of Chinese who arrived between the fifteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. Within Malaysia, they are usually simply referred to as "Chinese" in all languages. The term Chinese Malaysian is also sometimes used to refer to...

, while those of Indian descent comprise 7.1 per cent of the population. The Chinese have historically been dominant in the business and commerce community, and form the majority of the population of Penang
Penang
Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south. Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area after Perlis, and the...

. Indians began migrating to Malaysia in the early 19th century. The majority of the Indian community are Tamils
Tamil people
Tamil people , also called Tamils or Tamilians, are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 15th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada,...

.

Malaysian citizenship
Malaysian citizenship
Malaysian nationality law is the law of Malaysia that deals with citizenship and other forms of nationality. Nationality law is mentioned in the Constitution of Malaysia....

 is not automatically granted to those born in Malaysia, but is granted to a child born of two Malaysian parents outside Malaysia. Dual citizenship is not permitted. Citizenship in the states of Sabah
Sabah
Sabah is one of 13 member states of Malaysia. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south...

 and Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

 in Malaysian Borneo
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

 are distinct from citizenship in Peninsular Malaysia for immigration purposes. Every citizen is issued a biometric smart chip identity card
Identity document
An identity document is any document which may be used to verify aspects of a person's personal identity. If issued in the form of a small, mostly standard-sized card, it is usually called an identity card...

 known as MyKad
MyKad
MyKad is the compulsory identity document for Malaysian citizens aged 12 and above. Introduced by the National Registration Department of Malaysia on 5 September 2001 as one of four MSC Malaysia flagship applications and a replacement for the High Quality Identity Card , Malaysia became the first...

at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times.

The education system
Education in Malaysia
Education in Malaysia is overseen by two government ministries. The Ministry of Education handles matters pertaining to pre-school, primary school, secondary school and post-secondary school. Matters regarding tertiary education are dealt with by the Ministry of Higher Education...

 features a non-compulsory kindergarten education followed by six years of compulsory primary education, and five years of optional secondary education. Schools in the primary education system are divided into two categories: national primary schools, which teach in Malay, and vernacular schools, which teach in Chinese or Tamil. Secondary education is conducted for five years. In the final year of secondary education, students sit for the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination
Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia
The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia , or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-year secondary school students in Malaysia...

. Since the introduction of the matriculation programme
Malaysian Matriculation Programme
The Malaysian Matriculation Programme is a one or two-year pre-university preparatory programme offered by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia...

 in 1999, students who completed the 12-month programme in matriculation colleges can enroll in local universities. However, in the matriculation system, only 10 per cent of places are open to non-bumiputra students.

The infant mortality rate in 2009 was 6 deaths per 1000 births, and life expectancy at birth in 2009 was 75 years. With the aim of developing Malaysia into a medical tourism destination, 5 per cent of the government social sector development budget is spent on health care
Healthcare in Malaysia
Healthcare in Malaysia is mainly under the responsibility of the government's Ministry of Health. Malaysia generally has an efficient and widespread system of health care, operating a two-tier health care system consisting of both a government-run universal healthcare system and a co-existing...

. The population distribution between the two halves of the country is highly uneven. It is concentrated on Peninsular Malaysia where 20 million of approximately 28 million Malaysians live. 70 per cent of the population is urban. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

 is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, as well as its main commercial and financial centre. Putrajaya
Putrajaya
Putrajaya is a planned city, located 25km south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to the overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur areas...

 is the seat of government, as many executive and judicial branches of the federal government were moved there to ease growing congestion within Kuala Lumpur.

Due to the rise in labour intensive industries, the country is estimated to have over 3 million migrant workers; about 10 per cent of the population. Sabah-based NGOs estimate that out of the 3 million that make up the population of Sabah, 2 million are illegal immigrants. Malaysia hosts a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 171,500. Of this population, approximately 79,000 are from Burma, 72,400 from the Philippines, and 17,700 from Indonesia. Malaysian officials are reported to have turned deportees directly over to human smugglers in 2007, and Malaysia employs RELA
RELA Corps
"RELA Corps" is a paramilitary civil volunteer corps formed by the Malaysian government...

, a volunteer militia with a history of controversies, to enforce its immigration law.

Religion


The Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 while making Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 the state religion. According to the Population and Housing Census 2010 figures, ethnicity and religious beliefs correlate highly. Approximately 61.3% of the population are practicing Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. 19.8% Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

; 9.2% Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

; 6.3% Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

; and 1.3% practice Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 and other traditional Chinese religions
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

., 0.7% declared no religion and the remaining 1.4% practised other religions or did not provide any information.

All ethnic Malays are considered Muslim by law
Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia
Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia defines various terms used in the Constitution. It has an important impact on Islam in Malaysia and the Malay people due to its definition of a Malay person under clause 2...

 of the Constitution. Statistics from the 2010 Census indicate that 83.6% of the Chinese population identify as Buddhist, with significant numbers of adherents following Taoism (3.4%) and Christianity (11.1%), along with small Hui-Muslim
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 populations in areas like Penang
Penang
Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca. It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south. Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area after Perlis, and the...

.The majority of the Indian population follow Hinduism (86.2%), with a significant minority identifying as Christians (6.0%), Muslims (4.1%). Christianity is the predominant religion of the non-Malay bumiputra community (46.5%) with an additional 40.4% identifying as Muslims.

Muslims are obliged to follow the decisions of Syariah
Syariah Court
Syariah refers to Sharia law in Islamic religious law and deals with exclusively Islamic laws, having jurisdiction upon every Muslim in Malaysia. The dual-system of law in Malaysia is provided for in Article 121 of the Constitution of Malaysia. The Syariah Court system is one of the two separate...

 courts in matters concerning their religion. The Islamic judges are expected to follow the Shafi`i legal school of Islam, which is the main madh'hab of Malaysia. The jurisdiction of Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

h courts is limited only to Muslims in matters such as marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

, divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

, apostasy
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

, religious conversion
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

, and custody among others. No other criminal or civil offences are under the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts, which have a similar hierarchy to the Civil Courts
Courts of Malaysia
The Judiciary of Malaysia is largely centralized despite Malaysia's federal constitution, heavily influenced by the British Common Law and to a lesser extent Islamic law, and is mostly independent from political interference.-History:...

. Despite being the supreme courts of the land, the Civil Courts (including the Federal Court) do not hear matters related to Islamic practices.

Language



The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia
Malaysian language
Malaysian or Standard Malay is the official language of Malaysia and a standardized form of the Malay language of the Austronesian family. It is over 80% cognate with Indonesian and is spoken natively by over 10 million people...

, a standardised form of the Malay language
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

. Historically English was the de facto administrative language, with Malay becoming predominant after the 1969 race riots. English remains an active second language
Second language
A second language or L2 is any language learned after the first language or mother tongue. Some languages, often called auxiliary languages, are used primarily as second languages or lingua francas ....

, and serves as the medium of instruction for maths and sciences in all public schools. Malaysian English
Malaysian English
Malaysian English , formally known as Malaysian Standard English , is a form of English used and spoken in Malaysia as a second language...

, also known as Malaysian Standard English (MySE), is a form of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 derived from British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

. Malaysian English sees wide use in business, along with Manglish
Manglish
Manglish is an English based creole spoken in Malaysia.The vocabulary of Manglish consists of words originating from English, Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, and to a lesser extent various other European languages, while Manglish syntax resembles southern varieties of Chinese...

, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

, Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, and Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 influences. The government discourages the misuse of Malay and has instituted fines for public signs that mix Malay and English.

Many other languages are used in Malaysia, which contains speakers of 137 living languages. Peninsular Malaysia contains speakers of 41 of these languages. The native tribes of East Malaysia have their own languages which are related to, but easily distinguishable from, Malay. The Iban
Iban language
The Iban language is spoken by the Iban, a branch of the Dayak ethnic group formerly known as "Sea Dayak" who live in Sarawak, the Indonesian province of Kalimantan Barat and in Brunei. It belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family, and is related to Malay, more...

 is the main tribal language in Sarawak
Sarawak
Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang , Sarawak is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia followed by Sabah, the second largest state located to the North- East.The administrative capital is Kuching, which...

 while Dusunic languages
Dusunic languages
The Dusunic languages are a group of languages spoken by the Bisaya, Dusun, Kadazan, Rungus, and related peoples in the Malaysian province of Sabah on Borneo.-Languages:The languages are divided as follows, per Ethnologue 15:...

 are spoken by the natives in Sabah
Sabah
Sabah is one of 13 member states of Malaysia. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south...

. Chinese Malaysians predominately speak Chinese dialects from the southern provinces of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The more common dialects in the country are Cantonese
Cantonese
Cantonese is a dialect spoken primarily in south China.Cantonese may also refer to:* Yue Chinese, the Chinese language that includes Cantonese* Cantonese cuisine, the cuisine of Guangdong province...

, Mandarin, Hokkien
Hokkien
Hokkien is a Hokkien word corresponding to Standard Chinese "Fujian". It may refer to:* Hokkien dialect, a dialect of Min Nan Chinese spoken in Southern Fujian , Taiwan, South-east Asia, and elsewhere....

, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou
Fuzhou dialect
Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

. Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 is used predominantly by Tamils, who form a majority of Malaysian Indians. Other south Asian languages are also widely spoken in Malaysia, as well as Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...


A small number of Malaysians have Caucasian
Caucasian race
The term Caucasian race has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia , Central Asia and South Asia...

 ancestry and speak creole language
Creole language
A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

s, such as the Portuguese based Malaccan Creoles, and the Spanish based Chavacano language
Chavacano language
Chavacano or Chabacano, sometimes referred to by linguists as Philippine Creole Spanish, is a Spanish-based creole language spoken in the Philippines...

.

Culture




Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual society. The original culture of the area stemmed from indigenous tribes that lived there, along with the Malays
Malay people
Malays are an ethnic group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula, including the southernmost parts of Thailand, the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations...

 who later moved there. Substantial influence exists from Chinese and Indian culture, dating back to when foreign trade began in the area. Other cultures that heavily influenced the culture of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic
Arabic culture
Arab culture refers to the culture in Arab countries of West Asia and North Africa, from Morocco to the Persian Gulf. Language, literature, gastronomy, art, architecture, music, spirituality, philosophy, mysticism are all part of the cultural heritage of the pan-Arab world.-Language:The Arabic...

, and British culture. Due to the political structure of the government, coupled with the social contract
Social contract (Malaysia)
The social contract in Malaysia refers to the agreement made by the country's founding fathers in the Constitution. The social contract usually refers to a quid pro quo trade-off through Articles 14–18 of the Constitution, pertaining to the granting of citizenship to the non-Bumiputera of...

 theory, there has been minimal cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 of ethnic minorities.

In 1971, the government created a "National Cultural Policy". This policy defined Malaysian culture, stating that it must be based on the culture of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia, it may incorporate suitable elements from other cultures, and that Islam must play a part in Malaysian culture. It also promoted the Malay language above others. This government intervention into culture has caused resentment among non-Malays who feel their cultural freedom was lessened. Both Chinese and Indian associations have submitted memorandums to the government, accusing it of formulating an undemocratic culture policy.

Some cultural disputes exist between Malaysia and neighbouring countries, notably Indonesia. The two countries share a similar cultural heritage, sharing many traditions and items. However, disputes have arisen over things ranging from culinary dishes to Malaysia's national anthem. Strong feelings exist in Indonesia about protecting their national heritage. The Malaysian government and the Indonesian government have met to defuse some of the tensions resulting from the overlaps in culture. Feelings are not as strong in Malaysia, where most recognise that many cultural values are shared.

Fine arts



Traditional Malaysian art was mainly centred around the areas of carving, weaving, and silversmithing. Traditional art ranges from handwoven baskets from rural areas to the silverwork of the Malay courts. Common artworks included ornamental kris
Kris
The kris or keris is an asymmetrical dagger or sword nowadays most strongly associated with the culture of Indonesia, but also indigenous to Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Brunei. It is known as kalis in the southern Philippines. The kris is famous for its distinctive wavy blade , but many have...

, beetle nut sets, and woven batik
Batik
Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

 and songket
Songket
Songket is a fabric that belongs to the brocade family of textiles of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. It is hand-woven in silk or cotton, and intricately patterned with gold or silver threads. The metallic threads stand out against the background cloth to create a shimmering effect...

 fabrics. Indigenous East Malaysians are known for their wooden masks. Each ethnic group have distinct performing arts, with little overlap between them. However, Malay art does show some North Indian influence due to the historical influence of India.
Traditional Malay music and performing arts appear to have originated in the Kelantan
Kelantan
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia. The capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. The Arabic honorific of the state is Darul Naim, ....

-Pattani
Pattani
Pattani may refer to* Pattani Province, in southern Thailand* Pattani , in southern Thailand* Pattani , which includes the above province** Pattani Kingdom, a former semi-independent kingdom...

 region with influences from India, China, Thailand and Indonesia. The music is based around percussion instruments, the most important of which is the gendang (drum). There are at least 14 types of traditional drums. Drums and other traditional percussion instruments and are often made from natural materials. Music is traditionally used for storytelling, celebrating life-cycle events, and occasions such as a harvest. It was once used as a form of long-distance communication. In East Malaysia
East Malaysia
East Malaysia, also known as Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. It consists of the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan. It lies to the east from Peninsular Malaysia , which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The two are...

, gong
Gong
A gong is an East and South East Asian musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat metal disc which is hit with a mallet....

-based musical ensemble such as agung
Agung
The agung is a set of two wide-rimmed, vertically-suspended gongs used by the Maguindanao, Maranao and Tausug people of the Philippines as a supportive instrument in kulintang ensembles...

 and kulintang
Kulintang
Kulintang is a modern term for an ancient instrumental form of music composed on a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums...

 are commonly used in ceremonies such as funerals and weddings. These ensembles are also common in neighbouring regions such as in the southern Philippines, Kalimantan
Kalimantan
In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, while in Indonesian, the term "Kalimantan" refers to the whole island of Borneo....

 in Indonesia, and Brunei.

Malaysia has a strong oral tradition that has existed since before the arrival of writing, and continues today. Each of the Malay Sultanates created their own literary tradition, influenced by pre-existing oral stories and by the stories that came with Islam. The first Malay literature was in the Arabic script. The earliest known Malay writing is on the Terengganu stone
Terengganu Inscription Stone
Terengganu Inscription Stone is the oldest artifact with Jawi writing on it. The inscriptions, which are in Malay, believed to be written on 22 February 1303...

, made in 1303. Chinese and Indian literature became common as the numbers of speakers increased in Malaysia, and locally produced works based in languages from those areas began to be produced in the 19th century. English has also become a common literary language. In 1971, the government took the step of defining the literature of different languages. Literature written in Malay was called "the national literature of Malaysia", literature in other bumiputra languages was called "regional literature", while literature in other languages was called "sectional literature". Malay poetry is highly developed, and uses many forms. The Hikayat form is popular, and the pantun has spread from Malay to other languages.

Cuisine




Malaysia's cuisine reflects the multi-ethnic makeup of its population. Many cultures from within the country and from surrounding regions have greatly influenced the cuisine. Much of the influence comes from the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Javanese, and Sumatran cultures, largely due to the country being part of the ancient spice route. The cuisine is very similar to that of Singapore and Brunei, and also bears resemblance to Filipino cuisine. The different states have varied dishes, and often the food in Malaysia is different from the original dishes.

Sometimes food not found in its original culture is assimilated into another; for example, Chinese restaurants in Malaysia often serve Malay dishes. Food from one culture is sometimes also cooked using styles taken from another culture, This means that although much of Malaysian food can be traced back to a certain culture, they have their own identity. Rice is popular in many dishes. Chili is commonly found in local cuisine, although this does not necessarily make them spicy.

Holidays and festivals




Malaysians observe a number of holidays and festivities throughout the year. Some are federally gazetted public holidays and some are observed by individual states. Other festivals are observed by particular ethnic or religion groups, and the main holiday of each major group have been declared a public holiday. The most observed national holiday is Hari Merdeka
Hari Merdeka
Hari Merdeka is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957, celebrated on August 31 each year. It is not to be confused with the formation of Malaysia...

(Independence Day) on 31 August, commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. The Federation became independent on 31 August 1957...

 in 1957. Malaysia Day
Malaysia Day
Malaysia Day is held on September 16 every year to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. It marked the joining together of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore to form Malaysia...

 on 16 September commemorates federation in 1963. Other notable national holidays are Labour Day
Labour Day
Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for...

 (1 May), and the King's birthday (first week of June).

Muslim holidays
Muslim holidays
There are two main holidays in Islam, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. The way that holidays are recognized can vary across cultures, as well as across sects of Islam, Sunni and Shia. Muslim holidays generally follow the lunar calendar, and thus move each year relative to the solar calendar. The...

 are prominent as Islam is the state religion; Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Malay for Eid al-Fitr), Hari Raya Haji (also called Hari Raya Aidiladha, the translation of Eid ul-Adha
Eid ul-Adha
Eid al-Adha or "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep— to sacrifice...

), Maulidur Rasul
Mawlid
Mawlid or sometimes ميلاد , mīlād is a term used to refer to the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal,...

(birthday of the Prophet), and others being observed. Malaysian Chinese
Malaysian Chinese
Malaysian Chinese is a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Most are descendants of Chinese who arrived between the fifteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. Within Malaysia, they are usually simply referred to as "Chinese" in all languages. The term Chinese Malaysian is also sometimes used to refer to...

 celebrate festivals such as Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

 and others relating to traditional Chinese beliefs. Hindus in Malaysia celebrate Deepavali, the festival of lights, while Thaipusam
Thaipusam
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai . It is celebrated not only in countries where the Tamil community constitutes a majority, but also in countries where Tamil communities are smaller, such as Singapore and Malaysia...

is a religious rite which sees pilgrims from all over the country converge at the Batu Caves
Batu Caves
Batu Caves , is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples, located in Gombak district, north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village.The cave is one of the...

. Malaysia's Christian community celebrates most of the holidays observed by Christians elsewhere, most notably Christmas and Easter. East Malaysians also celebrate a harvest festival known as Gawai
Gawai Dayak
Gawai Day or Gawai Dayak is a festival celebrated in Sarawak on 1 June every year. It is both a religious and social occasion. The word Gawai means a ritual or festival whereas Dayak is a collective name for the native ethnic groups of Sarawak : the Iban, also known as Sea Dayak and the Bidayuh...

. Despite most of the festivals being identified with a particular ethnic or religious group, celebrations are participated by all Malaysians in a custom known as "open house".

Sports



Popular sports in Malaysia include soccer, badminton
Badminton
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players or two opposing pairs , who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their...

, field hockey
Field hockey
Field Hockey, or Hockey, is a team sport in which a team of players attempts to score goals by hitting, pushing or flicking a ball into an opposing team's goal using sticks...

, bowling
Bowling
Bowling Bowling Bowling (1375–1425; late Middle English bowle, variant of boule Bowling (1375–1425; late Middle English bowle, variant of boule...

, tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

, squash
Squash (sport)
Squash is a high-speed racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball...

, martial arts
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

, horse riding, sailing
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

, and skate boarding. Badminton matches attract thousands of spectators, and Malaysia, along with Indonesia and China, has consistently held the Thomas Cup
Thomas Cup
The Thomas Cup, sometimes called the World Men's Team Championships, is an international badminton competition among teams representing member nations of the Badminton World Federation , the sport's global governing body...

 since 1948. The Malaysian Lawn Bowl's Federation was registered in 1997. Squash was brought to the country by members of the British army, with the first competition being held in 1939. The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia was created on 25 June 1972. Malaysia has proposed a Southeast Asian football league. The men's national field hockey team
Malaysia national field hockey team
The Malaysia national field hockey team is Malaysia's representative in field hockey tournaments around the world. In the usual course of things, the team is made up of the best field hockey players in Malaysia. As of December 14, 2009, the team is ranked 15th in the world, and 5th in Asia, by the...

 ranked 15th in the world as of August 2010. The 3rd Hockey World Cup
Hockey World Cup
The Hockey World Cup is an international field hockey competition organised by the International Hockey Federation . The tournament was started in 1971...

 was hosted at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the 10th cup. The country also has its own Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 track–the Sepang International Circuit
Sepang International Circuit
The Sepang International Circuit is a racing circuit in Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia. It is located near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, approximately 60 km south of the capital city Kuala Lumpur. It is the venue used for the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, A1 Grand Prix as well as the...

. It runs for 310.408 kilometres (192.88 mi), and held its first Grand Prix
Malaysian Grand Prix
First included in the Formula One World Championship in 1999, the current Malaysian Grand Prix is held at the Sepang International Circuit at Sepang, Malaysia. FIA-sanctioned racing in Malaysia has existed since the 1960s...

 in 1999.

The Federation of Malaya Olympic Council was formed in 1953, and received recognition by the IOC in 1954. It first participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games
1956 Summer Olympics
The 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVI Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, with the exception of the equestrian events, which could not be held in Australia due to quarantine regulations...

. The council was renamed the Olympic Council of Malaysia
Olympic Council of Malaysia
Olympic Council of Malaysia is the National Olympic Committee representing Malaysia.- External links :**...

 in 1964, and has participated
Malaysia at the Olympics
Malaysia first participated at the Olympic Games in 1956, and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when Malaysia participated in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Malaysia has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.As the...

 in all but one Olympic games since its inception. The largest number of athletes ever sent to the Olympics was 57 to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Malaysian athletes have won a total of four Olympic medals, all of which are in badminton. The country has competed at the Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 and takes place every four years....

 since 1950 as Malaya, and 1966 as Malaysia, and the games were hosted in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Media



Malaysia's main newspapers are owned by the government and political parties in the ruling coalition, although some major opposition parties also have their own. A divide exists between the media in the two halves of the country. Peninsular-based media gives low priority to news from the East, and often treats the eastern states as colonies of the Peninsula. The media has been blamed for increasing tension between Indonesia and Malaysia, and giving Malaysians a bad image of Indonesians. Besides Malay newspapers, there are large circulation of English, Chinese, and Tamil dailies in the country.

There is very little freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

, leading to very little government accountability. The government has previously tried to crack down on opposition papers before elections when they were unsure of their political situation. In 2007, a government agency issued a directive to all private television and radio stations to refrain from broadcasting speeches made by opposition leaders, a move condemned by politicians from the opposition Democratic Action Party
Democratic Action Party
The Democratic Action Party, or DAP is a secular, multi-racial, social democratic Malaysian political party.The DAP is one of the three major opposition parties in Malaysia, along with the PKR and PAS, that are seen as electable alternatives to the Barisan Nasional coalition of parties...

. Sabah, where only one tabloid is not independent of government control, has the freest press in Malaysia. Legislation such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act
Printing Presses and Publications Act
The Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 is a Malaysian statute governing publishing and the usage of printing presses in Malaysia. It replaced the Printing Presses Act 1948 and the Control of Imported Publications Act 1958...

 have also been cited as curtailing freedom of expression.

Infrastructure




The infrastructure of Malaysia is one of the most developed in Asia. Its telecommunication
Telecommunication
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...

s network is second only to Singapore's in Southeast Asia, with 4.7 million fixed-line subscribers and more than 30 million cellular subscribers The country has seven international ports, the major one being the Port Klang
Port Klang
Port Klang is a town and the main gateway by sea into Malaysia. Colonially known as Port Swettenham, it is also the location of the largest and busiest port in the country. As such, its economic progress has been greatly influenced by the port activities in its area...

. There are 200 industrial park
Industrial park
An industrial park is an area zoned and planned for the purpose of industrial development...

s along with specialised parks such as Technology Park Malaysia
Technology Park Malaysia
The Technology Park Malaysia is Malaysia's most advanced and comprehensive centre for research and development for knowledge-based industries. Its total land area of 750 acres , comprises 12 state-of-the-art buildings each with specific functions...

 and Kulim Hi-Tech Park. Fresh water is available to over 95 per cent of the population. During the colonial period, development was mainly concentrated in economically powerful cities and in areas forming security concerns. Although rural areas have been the focus of great development, they still lag behind areas such as the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The telecommunication network, although strong in urban areas, is less available to the rural population.

Malaysia's road network covers 98721 kilometres (61,343 mi) and includes 1821 kilometres (1,132 mi) of expressways. The longest highway of the country, the North-South Expressway, extends over 800 kilometres (497 mi) between the Thai border and Singapore. The road systems in Sabah and Sarawak are less developed and of lower quality in comparison to that of Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia , also known as West Malaysia , is the part of Malaysia which lies on the Malay Peninsula. Its area is . It shares a land border with Thailand in the north. To the south is the island of Singapore. Across the Strait of Malacca to the west lies the island of Sumatra...

. Malaysia has 118 airports, of which 38 are paved. The country's official airline is Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines
Malaysian Airline System Berhad , DBA Malaysia Airlines , is the government-owned flag carrier of Malaysia. Malaysia Airlines operates flights from its home base, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and its eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu. It has its headquarters on the grounds of Sultan Abdul Aziz...

, providing international and domestic air service alongside two other carriers. The railway system is state-run, and covers a total of 1849 kilometres (1,149 mi). Relatively inexpensive elevated Light Rail Transit
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 systems are used in some cities, such as Kuala Lumpur. The Asean Rail Express is a railway service that connects Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

, and is intended to eventually stretch from Singapore to China.

Traditionally, energy production in Malaysia has been based around oil and natural gas. The country currently has 13 GW of electrical generation capacity. However, the country only has 33 years of natural gas reserves, and 19 years of oil reserves, while the demand for energy is increasing. In response, the government is expanding into renewable energy sources. Currently 16 per cent of electricity generation is hydroelectric, the remaining 84 per cent being thermal. The oil and gas industry is currently dominated by state owned Petronas
Petronas
PETRONAS, short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, is a Malaysian oil and gas company that was founded on August 17, 1974. Wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia, the corporation is vested with the entire oil and gas resources in Malaysia and is entrusted with the responsibility of developing and...

, and the energy sector as a whole is regulated by the Energy Commission of Malaysia
Energy Commission of Malaysia
The Energy Commission of Malaysia was created under the Energy Commission Act 2001 as a new regulator for the energy industry in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah...

, a statutory commission that governs the energy in the peninsula and Sabah, under the terms of the Electricity Commission Act of 2001.

See also


  • Environment of Malaysia
    Environment of Malaysia
    The environment of Malaysia refers to the biotas and geologies that constitute the natural environment of this Southeast Asian nation. Ecologically, Malaysia is a megadiverse nation with a biodiverse range of flora and fauna found in various ecoregions throughout the country. Tropical rainforests...

  • International rankings of Malaysia
    International rankings of Malaysia
    -Capital city:*Kuala Lumpur: Alpha-rank Global city*Foreign Policy: The Global Cities Index , Kuala Lumpur ranked 48 out of 65 global cities-Economic:*The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation: Index of Economic Freedom , ranked 68 out of 157 countries...



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