Coordinates: 2°30′N 112°30′E / 2.500°N 112.500°E /
Coat of arms
Motto: "Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu"
"Unity Is Strength"
3°8′N 101°41′E / 3.133°N 101.683°E / 3.133; 101.683
2°56′35″N 101°41′58″E / 2.9430952°N 101.699373°E
/ 2.9430952; 101.699373
3°8′N 101°41′E / 3.133°N 101.683°E / 3.133; 101.683
Ethnic groups ()
Federal dominant-party parliamentary elective constitutional monarchy
• Yang di-Pertuan Agong
• Prime Minister
• Deputy Prime Minister
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
• Upper house
• Lower house
Independence from the United Kingdom
Independence of the
Federation of Malaya
31 August 1957
Malaya, North Borneo,
16 September 1963
• Expulsion of Singapore
9 August 1965
• ASEAN Declaration
8 August 1967
330,803 km2 (127,724 sq mi) (66th)
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
• 2010 census
92/km2 (238.3/sq mi) (116th)
$988.99 billion (26th)
• Per capita
$340.000 billion (38th)
• Per capita
high · 59th
Ringgit (RM) (MYR)
• Summer (DST)
not observed (UTC+8)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Malaysia[a] is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast
Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and
has a total landmass of 330,803 square kilometres
(127,720 sq mi) separated by the
South China Sea
South China Sea into two
similarly sized regions,
Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia
Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime
Thailand in the north and maritime borders with Singapore
in the south,
Vietnam in the northeast, and
Indonesia in the west.
East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with
Indonesia and a maritime border with the
Philippines and Vietnam. The
capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while
Putrajaya is the seat of the
federal government. With a population of over 30 million,
the world's 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of
continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. Located in the
Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large
numbers of endemic species.
Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms present in the area
which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire.
The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements,
whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming
British protectorates. The territories on
Peninsular Malaysia were
first unified as the
Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as
Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31
August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore
on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. Less than two years later in
Singapore was expelled from the federation. The country is
multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in its
politics. About half the population is ethnically Malay, with large
Malaysian Chinese (the second largest community of
Overseas Chinese in the world), Malaysian Indians, and indigenous
peoples. The constitution grants freedom of religion but recognises
Islam as the established religion of the state. The government system
is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the
legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king,
known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen
from the hereditary rulers of the nine
Malay states every five years.
The head of government is the Prime Minister. The country's official
language is Bahasa Melayu, commonly known as the Malay language.
English remains an active second language. In 2017 English proficiency
Malaysia was ranked the 2nd best in
Asia (after Singapore) and the
13th best in the world.
Since its independence,
Malaysia has had one of the best economic
records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum
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. It is also one of the few
developing countries to heavily subsidise education and healthcare.
Malaysian citizens are entitled to free public education up to
secondary level and public tertiary education fees are subsidised by
up to 90%. Basic healthcare services at government run clinics
with prescription cost RM1. Disabled, senior citizens and public
school students are entitled to free healthcare. Malaysian healthcare
services have been regarded as among the best in the world and the UN
Development Program called the Malaysian healthcare system "a model to
other developing countries".
Malaysia's recent rapid development has attracted millions of migrant
workers from across Asia. The majority of these migrants are
undocumented, a situation which the Malaysian government is struggling
to combat, with its treatment and crackdown on migrant workers often
criticised by international human rights watchdogs.
Malaysia has a
newly industrialised market economy, ranked 4th largest in Southeast
Asia and 38th largest in the world. With a GDP per capita of $10,430
and an HDI of 0.789,
Malaysia is classified as an emerging economy by
the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also classifies
Malaysia as an emerging and developing country.
Malaysia is a
founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the
Asia Summit, and the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and a
member of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of
Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement. In 2017, Malaysian citizens had
visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 164 countries and territories,
Malaysian passport the 5th most accepted in the
3 Government and politics
3.1 Political divisions
3.1.2 Federal Territories
4 Foreign relations and military
6.1 Conservation issues
9.1 Fine arts
9.4 Holidays and festivals
10 See also
13 External links
Main article: Malay people
"Malaysia" used as a label for the
Malay Archipelago on a 1914 map
United States atlas
The name "Malaysia" is a combination of the word "Malay" and the
Latin-Greek suffix "-sia"/-σία. The word "melayu" in Malay may
derive from the Tamil words "malai" and "ur" meaning "mountain" and
"city, land", respectively. "Malayadvipa" was the word
used by ancient Indian traders when referring to the Malay
Peninsula. Whether or not it originated from these
roots, the word "melayu" or "mlayu" may have been used in early
Malay/Javanese to mean to steadily accelerate or run. This term was
applied to describe the strong current of the river Melayu in
Sumatra. The name was later adopted by the
Melayu Kingdom that
existed in the seventh century on Sumatra.
Before the onset of European colonisation, the
Malay Peninsula was
known natively as "Tanah Melayu" ("Malay Land"). Under a
racial classification created by a German scholar Johann Friedrich
Blumenbach, the natives of maritime
Southeast Asia were grouped into a
single category, the Malay race. Following the expedition of
Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Dumont d'Urville to
Oceania in 1826, he later
proposed the terms of "Malaysia", "Micronesia" and "Melanesia" to the
Société de Géographie
Société de Géographie in 1831, distinguishing these Pacific
cultures and island groups from the existing term "Polynesia". Dumont
Malaysia as "an area commonly known as the East
Indies". 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 modern terminology,
"Malay" remains the name of an ethnoreligious group of Austronesian
people predominantly inhabiting the
Malay Peninsula and portions of
the adjacent islands of Southeast Asia, including the east coast of
Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and smaller islands that lie between
The state that gained independence from the
United Kingdom in 1957
took the name the "
Federation of Malaya", chosen in preference to
other potential names such as "Langkasuka", after the historic kingdom
located at the upper section of the
Malay Peninsula in the first
millennium CE. The name "Malaysia" was adopted in 1963 when
the existing states of the
Federation of Malaya, plus Singapore, North
Sarawak formed a new federation. One theory posits the
name was chosen so that "si" represented the inclusion of Singapore,
North Borneo, and
Sarawak to Malaya in 1963. Politicians in the
Philippines contemplated renaming their state "Malaysia" before the
modern country took the name.
Main article: History of Malaysia
A Famosa in
Melaka built by the Portuguese in the 16th century
In the 15th century the
Malacca Sultanate played a major role in
Islam throughout the Malay Archipelago.
Evidence of modern human habitation in
Malaysia dates back
40,000 years. In the Malay Peninsula, the first inhabitants
are thought to be Negritos. Traders and settlers from
China arrived as early as the first century AD, establishing trading
ports and coastal towns in the second and third centuries. Their
presence resulted in strong Indian and Chinese influences on the local
cultures, and the people of the
Malay Peninsula adopted the religions
Hinduism and Buddhism.
Sanskrit inscriptions appear as early as the
fourth or fifth century. The Kingdom of
Langkasuka arose around
the second century in the northern area of the Malay Peninsula,
lasting until about the 15th century. Between the 7th and 13th
centuries, much of the southern
Malay Peninsula was part of the
maritime Srivijayan empire. By the 13th and the 14th century, the
Majapahit empire had successfully wrested control over most of the
peninsula and the
Malay Archipelago from Srivijaya.
Islam began to
spread among Malays in the 14th century. In the early 15th
century, Parameswara, a runaway king of the former Kingdom of
Singapura linked to the old Srivijayan court, founded the Malacca
Melaka was an important commercial centre during this time,
attracting trade from around the region.
The Dutch fleet battling with the Portuguese armada as part of the
Dutch–Portuguese War in 1606 to gain control of Melaka
Melaka was conquered by Portugal, after which it was
taken by the Dutch in 1641. In 1786, the
British Empire established a
presence in Malaya, when the Sultan of
Penang Island to
the British East
India Company. The British obtained the town of
Singapore in 1819, and in 1824 took control of
the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. By 1826, the British directly controlled
Penang, Melaka, Singapore, and the island of Labuan, which they
established as the crown colony of the Straits Settlements. By the
20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri
Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States, had British
residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers, to whom the rulers
were bound to defer to by treaty. The remaining five states in the
peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly
under British rule, also accepted British advisers around the turn of
the 20th century. Development on the peninsula and
generally separate until the 19th century. Under British rule the
immigration of Chinese and Indians to serve as labourers was
encouraged. The area that is now
Sabah came under British control
Borneo when both the Sultan of
Brunei and the Sultan of Sulu
transferred their respective territorial rights of ownership, between
1877 and 1878. In 1842,
Sarawak was ceded by the Sultan of Brunei
to James Brooke, whose successors ruled as the
White Rajahs over an
independent kingdom until 1946, when it became a crown colony.
Francis Light in the
Fort Cornwallis of Penang, the first
British colony in what was to become Malaysia
In the Second World War, the Japanese Army invaded and occupied
Malaya, North Borneo, 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" met with strong opposition from the Malays, who
opposed the weakening of the Malay rulers and the granting of
citizenship to the ethnic Chinese. 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 on 1 February 1948 by the
Federation of Malaya, which
restored the autonomy of the rulers of the
Malay states under British
protection. During this time, mostly Chinese rebels under the
leadership of the
Malayan Communist Party
Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla
operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan
Emergency lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long
anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya. On 31
August 1957, Malaya became an independent member of the Commonwealth
of Nations. After this a plan was put in place to federate Malaya
with the crown colonies of North
Borneo (which joined as Sabah),
Sarawak, and Singapore. The date of federation was planned to be 31
August 1963 so as to coincide with the anniversary of Malayan
independence; however, federation was delayed until 16 September 1963
in order for a
United Nations survey of support for federation in
Sabah and Sarawak, called for by parties opposed to federation
Sukarno and the
Sarawak United Peoples' Party,
to be completed.
Federation brought heightened tensions including a conflict with
Indonesia as well continuous conflicts against the Communists in
Borneo and the Malayan Peninsula which escalates to the Sarawak
Communist Insurgency and Second
Malayan Emergency together with
several other issues such as the cross border attacks into North
Borneo by Moro pirates from the southern islands of the Philippines,
Singapore being expelled from the
Federation in 1965, and
racial strife. This strife culminated in the 13 May race riots in
1969. After the riots, the controversial New Economic Policy was
launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, trying to increase the
share of the economy held by the bumiputera. Under Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad there was a period of rapid economic growth and
urbanisation beginning in the 1980s. The economy shifted from being
agriculturally based to one based on manufacturing and industry.
Numerous mega-projects were completed, such as the
the North–South Expressway, the Multimedia Super Corridor, and the
new federal administrative capital of Putrajaya. However, in the
late 1990s the Asian financial crisis almost caused the collapse of
the currency and the stock and property markets.
Government and politics
Politics of Malaysia
Politics of Malaysia and Government of Malaysia
Censorship in Malaysia
Censorship in Malaysia and Human rights in Malaysia
The Parliament of Malaysia, the building that houses the members of
the Dewan Rakyat
Perdana Putra houses the office complex of the Prime Minister of
Malaysia is a federal constitutional elective monarchy, and the only
federation in Southeast Asia. The system of government is closely
modelled on that of the Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of
British colonial rule. The head of state is the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the King. The
King 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
Muhammad V of Kelantan
Muhammad V of Kelantan since December
2016. The King's role has been largely ceremonial since changes to
the constitution in 1994, picking ministers and members of the upper
Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures.
The bicameral federal parliament consists of the lower house, the
House of Representatives and the upper house, the Senate. The
222-member House of Representatives is elected for a maximum term of
five years from single-member constituencies. All 70 senators sit for
three-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, and the
remaining 44 are appointed by the King upon the Prime Minister's
recommendation. The parliament follows a multi-party system and
the government is elected through a first-past-the-post system. Since
Malaysia has been governed by a 13-party coalition known
as the Barisan Nasional.
Each state has a unicameral
State Legislative Assembly
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 normally required to be a
Malay, appointed by the ruler upon the recommendation of the Prime
Minister. Parliamentary elections are held at least once every
five years, the most recent of which took place in May 2013.
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 state
elections in Sarawak, by convention state elections are held
concurrently with the federal election.
Najib Razak, Prime Minister since 2009
Executive power is vested in the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister.
The prime minister must be a member of the house of representatives,
who in the opinion of the King, 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, is the
sixth prime minister.
Malaysia's legal system is based on English Common Law. Although
the judiciary is theoretically independent, its independence has been
called into question and the appointment of judges lacks
accountability and transparency. The highest court in the judicial
system is the Federal Court, followed by the Court of Appeal and two
high courts, one for
Peninsular Malaysia and one for East Malaysia.
Malaysia also has a special court to hear cases brought by or against
royalty. The death penalty is in use for serious crimes such as
murder, terrorism, drug trafficking, and kidnapping. Separate
from and running parallel to the civil courts are the Syariah
Courts, which apply
Shariah law to Muslims in the areas of family
law and religious observances. Homosexuality is illegal in
Race is a significant force in politics, and many political parties
are ethnically based. Affirmative actions such as the New Economic
Policy and the
National Development Policy which superseded it,
were implemented to advance the standing of the bumiputera, consisting
of Malays and the indigenous tribes who are considered the original
inhabitants of Malaysia, over non-bumiputera such as Malaysian Chinese
and Malaysian Indians. These policies provide preferential
treatment to bumiputera in employment, education, scholarships,
business, and access to cheaper housing and assisted savings. However,
it has generated greater interethnic resentment. There is ongoing
debate over whether the laws and society of
Malaysia should reflect
secular or Islamic principles. Islamic criminal laws passed by the
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party with the support of UMNO state assemblymen
in the state legislative assembly of
Kelantan have been blocked by the
federal government on the basis that criminal laws are the
responsibility of the federal government.
Main articles: States and federal territories of Malaysia, Divisions
of Malaysia, and Districts of Malaysia
(Red) Federal Territories
Gulf of Thailand
Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal
territories. These are divided between two regions, with 11 states
and two federal territories on
Peninsular Malaysia and the other two
states and one federal territory in East Malaysia. Each state is
divided into districts, which are then divided into mukim. In Sabah
Sarawak districts are grouped into divisions.
Governance of the states is divided between the federal and the state
governments, with different powers reserved for each, and the Federal
government has direct administration of the federal territories.
Lower-level administration is carried out by local authorities, which
include city councils, district councils, and municipal councils,
although autonomous statutory bodies can be created by the federal and
state governments to deal with certain tasks. The federal
constitution puts local authorities outside of the federal territories
under the exclusive jurisdictions of the state government,
although in practice the federal government has intervened in the
affairs of state local governments. There are 154 local
authorities, consisting of 14 city councils, 38 municipal councils,
and 97 district councils.
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 King is elected by and from the nine rulers to serve a
five-year term. This King appoints governors serving a four-year
term for the states without monarchies, after consultations with the
chief minister of that state. Each state has a unicameral legislature
known as the State Legislative Assembly, and its own written
Sarawak have considerably more autonomy
than the other states, most notably having separate immigration
policies and controls, and a unique residency status.
Federal intervention in state affairs, lack of development, and
disputes over oil royalties have occasionally led to statements about
secession from leaders in several states such as Penang, Johor,
Sabah and Sarawak, although these have not been followed up
and no serious independence movements exist.
Here are thirteen states and each state capital (in brackets):
Kedah (Alor Setar)
Kelantan (Kota Bharu)
Negeri Sembilan (Seremban)
Penang (George Town)
Sabah (Kota Kinabalu)
Selangor (Shah Alam)
Terengganu (Kuala Terengganu)
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Federal Territory of Labuan
Federal Territory of Putrajaya
Foreign relations and military
Foreign relations of Malaysia
Foreign relations of Malaysia and Malaysian Armed
Najib meeting with Putin at the
Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation in
A founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) and the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),
the country participates in many international organisations such as
the United Nations, the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,
the Developing 8 Countries, and the Non-Aligned Movement
(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.
Kuala Lumpur was the site of the first
East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit in 2005.
Malaysia's foreign policy is officially based on the principle of
neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries,
regardless of their political system. The government attaches a
high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia,
and seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the
region. Historically the government has tried to portray
Malaysia as a
progressive Islamic nation while strengthening relations with
other Islamic states. A strong tenet of Malaysia's policy is
national sovereignty and the right of a country to control its
Spratly Islands are disputed by many states in the area, and a
large portion of the
South China Sea
South China Sea is claimed by China. Unlike its
Vietnam and the Philippines,
avoided conflicts with China. However, after the encroachment of
Chinese ships in Malaysian territorial waters,
become active in condemning China.
2009 announced an end to claims of each other's land, and committed to
resolve issues related to their maritime borders. The Philippines
has a dormant claim to the eastern part of Sabah. Singapore's
land reclamation has caused tensions, and minor maritime and land
border disputes exist with Indonesia.
Examples of the
Malaysian Armed Forces
Malaysian Armed Forces weaponry assets. Clockwise from
top right: Scorpène class submarine,
PT-91M MBT tank, Malaysian Army
paratrooper with M4, and Su-30MKM fighter aircraft.
Malaysia has never recognised
Israel and has no diplomatic ties with
it, and has called for the
International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court to take
Israel over their Gaza flotilla raid.
stated it will only establish official relations with
Israel once a
peace agreement with the
State of Palestine
State of Palestine has been reached and
called for both parties to find a quick resolution to realise the
two-state solution. Malaysian peacekeeping forces
have contributed to many UN peacekeeping missions, such as in Congo,
Iran–Iraq, Namibia, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia,
East Timor and Lebanon.
Malaysian Armed Forces
Malaysian Armed Forces have three branches, the Royal Malaysian
Navy, the Malaysian Army, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. There is
no conscription, and the required age for voluntary military service
is 18. The military uses 1.5% of the country's GDP, and employs 1.23%
of Malaysia's manpower.
Five Power Defence Arrangements
Five Power Defence Arrangements is a regional security initiative
which has been in place for almost 40 years. It involves joint
military exercises held among Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New
Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Joint exercises and war games
also been held with Brunei, China, Indonesia and the
United States. Malaysia, Philippines,
agreed to host joint security force exercises to secure their maritime
border and tackle issues such as illegal immigration, piracy and
smuggling. Previously there are fears that extremist
militants activities in the
Muslim areas of the southern
Philippines and southern Thailand would spill over into
Malaysia. Due to this,
Malaysia began to increase its border
Main article: Geography of Malaysia
Malaysia is within the equatorial region, where a tropical rainforest
climate is apparent all year round.
Malaysia is the 66th largest country by total land area, with a land
area of 329,613 km2 (127,264 sq mi). It has land
Thailand in West Malaysia, and
East Malaysia. It is linked to
Singapore by a narrow causeway and a
bridge. The country also has maritime boundaries with Vietnam and
the Philippines. The land borders are defined in large part by
geological features such as the
Perlis River, the
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
Malaysia is the only country with territory on both the
Asian mainland and the Malay archipelago. Tanjung Piai, located
in the southern state of Johor, is the southernmost tip of continental
Asia. The Strait of Malacca, lying between
Sumatra 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, share a largely similar landscape in that both Peninsular
East Malaysia feature coastal plains rising to hills and
mountains. Peninsular Malaysia, containing 40 per cent of
Malaysia's land area, extends 740 km (460 mi) from
north to south, and its maximum width is 322 km
(200 mi). It is divided between its east and west coasts by
the Titiwangsa Mountains, rising to a peak elevation of 2,183
metres (7,162 ft) at Mount Korbu, part of a series of
mountain ranges running down the centre of the peninsula. These
mountains are heavily forested, and mainly composed of granite
and other igneous rocks. Much of it has been eroded, creating a karst
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 1,931 km (1,200 mi) long,
although harbours are only available on the western side.
Mount Kinabalu, the highest summit in the country
East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, has a coastline of
2,607 km (1,620 mi). It is divided between coastal
regions, hills and valleys, and a mountainous interior. The
Crocker Range extends northwards from Sarawak, dividing the state
of Sabah. It is the location of the 4,095 m (13,435 ft) high
Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Malaysia. Mount
Kinabalu is located in the Kinabalu National Park, which is protected
as one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia. The
highest mountain ranges form the border between
Sarawak contains the Mulu Caves, the largest cave system in
the world, in the
Gunung Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu National Park which is also a World
Around these two halves of
Malaysia are numerous islands, the largest
of which is Banggi. The local climate is equatorial and
characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast
(October to February) monsoons. The temperature is moderated by
the presence of the surrounding oceans. Humidity is usually high,
and the average annual rainfall is 250 cm (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 is likely to affect sea levels and rainfall, increasing flood
risks and leading to droughts.
Main article: Wildlife of Malaysia
Native species in Malaysia, clockwise from top-right: oriental pied
hornbills, hawksbill sea turtle, proboscis monkey, Malayan tiger.
Malaysia signed the Rio
Convention on Biological Diversity
Convention on Biological Diversity on 12 June
1993, and became a party to the convention on 24 June 1994. It
has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action
Plan, which was received by the convention on 16 April 1998. The
country is megadiverse 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. High levels of endemism are found on
the diverse forests of Borneo's mountains, as species are isolated
from each other by lowland forest. There are about 210 mammal
species in the country. 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 is 1.5
times larger than its land area, and some of its waters are in
the Coral Triangle, a biodiversity hotspot. The waters around
Sipadan island are the most biodiverse in the world. Bordering
East Malaysia, the
Sulu Sea is a biodiversity hotspot, with around 600
coral species and 1200 fish species. The unique biodiversity of
Malaysian Caves always attracts lovers of ecotourism from all over the
Nearly 4,000 species of fungi, including lichen-forming species have
been recorded from Malaysia. Of the two fungal groups with the largest
number of species in Malaysia, the
Ascomycota and their asexual states
have been surveyed in some habitats (decaying wood, marine and
freshwater ecosystems, as parasites of some plants, and as agents of
biodegradation), but have not been or have been only poorly surveyed
in other habitats (as endobionts, in soils, on dung, as human and
animal pathogens); the
Basidiomycota are only partly surveyed: bracket
fungi, and mushrooms and toadstools have been studied, but Malaysian
rust and smut fungi remain very poorly known. Without doubt, many more
fungal species in
Malaysia have not yet been recorded, and it is
likely that many of those, when found, will be new to science.
Some species of
Rafflesia can grow up to 1 m (3 ft
3 in) in diameter, making them the largest flowers in the world.
About two thirds of
Malaysia was covered in forest as of
2007, with some forests believed to be 130 million years
old. The forests are dominated by dipterocarps. Lowland
forest covers areas below 760 m (2,490 ft), and
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 1,425 km2 (550 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 plants 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 genus, the largest flowers in the world,
with a maximum diameter of 1 m (3 ft 3 in).
Main article: Environmental issues in Malaysia
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.
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 animals, fungi and plants, 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
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 five 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
Indonesia to standardise anti-trafficking laws.
Main article: Economy of Malaysia
Tree map of
Malaysia exports in 2016
The Proton company is a Malaysian car manufacturer.
Malaysia is a relatively open state-oriented and newly industrialised
market economy. 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.
Malaysia's economy in 2014–2015 was one of the most competitive in
Asia, ranking 6th in
Asia and 20th in the world, higher than countries
France and South Korea. In 2014, Malaysia's
economy grew 6%, the second highest growth in ASEAN behind the
Philippines' growth of 6.1%. The economy of
Malaysia in terms of
gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2014
was $746.821 billion, the third largest in ASEAN behind more
Thailand and the 28th largest in the
In 1991, former Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Mahathir Mohamad outlined
his ideal in Vision 2020, in which
Malaysia would become a
self-sufficient industrialised nation by 2020. It will need to
develop an endogeous capacity in innovation, however, to reach its
goal of becoming a high-income country by 2020.
Najib Razak has said
Malaysia could attain developed country status much earlier from the
actual target in 2020, adding the country has two program concept such
as Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation
Programme. According to a
Malaysia will become the
world's 21st largest economy by 2050, with a GDP of $1.2 trillion
(Year 2000 dollars) and a GDP per capita of $29,247 (Year 2000
dollars). The report also says "The electronic equipment, petroleum,
and liquefied natural gas producer will see a substantial increase in
income per capita. Malaysian life expectancy, relatively high level of
schooling, and above average fertility rate will help in its rapid
expansion". Viktor Shvets, the managing director of Credit
Suisse, has said "
Malaysia has all the right ingredients to become a
Port Klang in Selangor, the biggest and busiest port in Malaysia
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, with a high level of investment, has led
the country's growth. The economy recovered from the 1997
Asian Financial Crisis earlier than neighbouring countries did, and
has since recovered to the levels of the pre-crisis era with a GDP per
capita of $14,800. Economic inequalities exist between
different ethnic groups. The Chinese make up about one-quarter of the
population, but accounts for 70 per cent of the country's market
capitalisation. Chinese businesses in
Malaysia are part of the
larger bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses in the
Southeast Asian market sharing common family and cultural ties.
International trade, facilitated by the shipping route in adjacent
Strait of Malacca, and manufacturing are the key
Malaysia is an exporter of natural and
agricultural resources, and petroleum is a major export. Malaysia
has once been the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil 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 world's largest
producers of palm oil.
Petronas Towers house the headquarters of the national oil company
Petronas and are the tallest twin-towers in the world.
In an effort to diversify the economy and make it less dependent on
export goods, the government has pushed to increase tourism to
Malaysia. As a result, tourism has become Malaysia's third largest
source of 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 tourism sector came under some pressure in 2014 when the national
Malaysia Airlines had one of its planes disappear in March,
while another was brought down by a missile over Ukraine in July,
resulting in the loss of a total 537 passengers and crew. The state of
the airline, which had been unprofitable for 3 years, prompted the
government in August 2014 to nationalise the airline by buying up the
30 per cent it did not already own. Between 2013 and 2014,
Malaysia has been listed as one of the best places to retire to in the
world, with the country in third position on the Global Retirement
Index. This in part was the result of the
Malaysia My Second Home
programme to allow foreigners to live in the country on a long-stay
visa for up to 10 years. In 2016,
Malaysia ranked the fifth
position on The World's Best Retirement Havens while getting in the
first place as the best place in
Asia to retire. Warm climate with
British colonial background made foreigners easy to interact with the
The country has developed into a centre of Islamic banking, and is the
country with the highest numbers of female workers in that
industry. Knowledge-based services are also expanding. To
create a self-reliant defensive ability and support national
Malaysia privatised some of its military facilities in
the 1970s. The privatisation has created defence industry, which in
1999 was brought under the
Malaysia Defence Industry Council. The
government continues to promote this sector and its competitiveness,
actively marketing the defence industry. Science policies in
Malaysia are regulated by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and
Innovation. The country is one of the world's largest exporters of
semiconductor devices, electrical devices, and IT and communication
Malaysia began developing its own space programme in
2002, and in 2006,
Russia agreed to transport one Malaysian
International Space Station
International Space Station as part of a multibillion-dollar
purchase of 18 Russian
Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter jets by the Royal
Malaysian Air Force. The government has invested in building
satellites in through the
The overall infrastructure of
Malaysia is one of the most developed in
Asia and ranked 8th in
Asia and 25th in the world. Malaysia
is ranked 19th in the world for its quality roads, quality of port
infrastructure and quality of air transport infrastructure but ranked
39th in quality of electricity supply. Its telecommunications
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. There are 200 industrial
parks along with specialised parks such as Technology Park Malaysia
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.
Energy policy of Malaysia
Energy policy of Malaysia and List of power stations in
Malaysia's energy infrastructure sector is largely dominated by Tenaga
Nasional, the largest electric utility company in Southeast Asia, with
over RM99.03 billion of assets. Customers are connected to electricity
through the National Grid, with more than 420 transmission substations
in the Peninsular linked together by approximately 11,000 km
of transmission lines operating at 132, 275 and 500 kilovolts. In
2013, Malaysia's total power generation capacity was over 29,728
megawatts. Total electricity generation was 140,985.01
GWh and total
electricity consumption was 116,087.51 GWh. Energy production in
Malaysia is largely based on oil and natural gas, owing to Malaysia's
oil reserves and natural gas reserves, which is the fourth largest in
Asia-Pacific after China,
India and Vietnam.
Main articles: Transport in Malaysia, Rail transport in Malaysia, and
List of airports in Malaysia
Transportation in Malaysia. Clockwise from top: North–South
Expressway, KTM ETS Class 91 (left) and KTM Komuter Class 92 (right)
Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysia's road network is one of the most comprehensive in
covers a total of 144,403 kilometres (89,728 mi). The main
national road network is the Malaysian Federal Roads System, which
span over 49,935 km (31,028 mi). Most of the federal roads
Malaysia are 2-lane roads. In town areas, federal roads may become
4-lane roads to increase traffic capacity. Nearly all federal roads
are paved with tarmac except parts of the Skudai–Pontian Highway
which is paved with concrete, while parts of the Federal Highway
linking Klang to Kuala Lumpur, is paved with asphalt.
over 1,798 kilometres (1,117 mi) of highways and the longest
highway, the North–South Expressway, extends over 800 kilometres
(497 mi) on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, connecting
major urban centres like Kuala Lumpur,
Johor Bahru. In
2015, the government announced a RM27 billion (US$8.23 billion)
Borneo Highway project to upgrade all trunk roads to dual carriage
expressways, bringing the standard of East Malaysian highways to the
same level of quality of Peninsular highways.
There is currently 1,833 kilometres (1,139 mi) of railways in
Malaysia, 767 km (477 mi) are double tracked and
Rail transport in Malaysia
Rail transport in Malaysia comprises heavy rail (KTM),
light rapid transit and monorail (Rapid Rail), and a funicular railway
Penang Hill Railway).
Heavy rail is mostly used for intercity
passenger and freight transport as well as some urban public
transport, while LRTs are used for intra-city urban public transport.
There are two commuter rail services linking
Kuala Lumpur with the
Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The sole monorail line in the
country is also used for public transport in Kuala Lumpur, while the
only funicular railway line is in Penang. A rapid transit project, the
KVMRT, is currently under construction to improve Kuala Lumpur's
public transport system. The railway network covers most of the 11
states in Peninsular Malaysia. In East Malaysia, only the state of
Sabah has railways. The network is also connected to the Thai railway
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) network in the
north. If the
Burma Railway is rebuilt, services to Myanmar, India,
China could be initiated.
Malaysia has 118 airports, of which 38 are paved. The national airline
Malaysia Airlines, providing international and domestic air
services. Major international routes and domestic routes crossing
West Malaysia and
East Malaysia are served by Malaysia
Malindo Air while smaller domestic routes are
supplemented by smaller airlines like MASwings, Firefly and Berjaya
Air. Major cargo airlines include
MASkargo and Transmile Air Services.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the main and busiest airport of
Malaysia. In 2014, it was the world's 13th busiest airport by
international passenger traffic, recording over 25.4 million
international passenger traffic. It was also the world's 20th busiest
airport by passenger traffic, recording over 48.9 million passengers.
Other major airports include
Kota Kinabalu International Airport,
which is also Malaysia's second busiest airport and busiest airport in
East Malaysia with over 6.9 million passengers in 2013, and Penang
International Airport, which serves Malaysia's second largest urban
area, with over 5.4 million passengers in 2013.
Malaysia is strategically located on the Strait of Malacca, one of the
most important shipping lanes in the world.
Malaysia has two ports
that are listed in the top 20 busiest ports in the world, Port Klang
and Port of Tanjung Pelepas, which are respectively the 2nd and 3rd
busiest ports in
Southeast Asia after the Port of Singapore. Port
Klang is Malaysia's busiest port, and the 13th busiest port in the
world in 2013, handling over 10.3 million TEUs. Port of Tanjung
Pelepas is Malaysia's second busiest port, and the 19th busiest port
in the world in 2013, handling over 7.6 million TEUs.
Main article: Demographics of Malaysia
The percentage distribution of Malaysian population by ethnic group
based on 2010 census
According to the Malaysian Department of Statistics, the country's
population was 28,334,135 in 2010, making it the 42nd most
populated country. According to a 2012 estimate, the population is
increasing by 1.54 percent per year.
Malaysia has an average
population density of 96 people per km², ranking it 116th in the
world for population density. People within the 15–64 age group
constitute 69.5 percent of the total population; the 0–14 age group
corresponds to 24.5 percent; while senior citizens aged 65 years or
older make up 6.0 percent. In 1960, when the first official census was
recorded in Malaysia, the population was 8.11 million. 91.8 per cent
of the population are Malaysian citizens. Malaysian citizens are
divided along ethnic lines, with 67.4 per cent considered
bumiputera The largest group of bumiputera are Malays, who are
defined in the constitution as
Muslims who practice Malay customs and
culture. They play a dominant role politically. Bumiputera status
is also accorded to certain non-Malay indigenous peoples, including
ethnic Thais, Khmers, Chams and the natives of
Sabah and Sarawak.
Non-Malay bumiputera make up more than half of Sarawak's population
and over two thirds of Sabah's population. There also exist
aboriginal groups in much smaller numbers on the peninsula, where they
are collectively known as the Orang Asli. Laws over who gets
bumiputera status vary between states.
Other minorities lack bumiputera status. 24.6 per cent of the
population are of Chinese descent, while those of Indian descent
comprise 7.3 per cent of the population. The Chinese have
historically been dominant in the business and commerce community, and
form a plurality of the population of Penang. Immigrants from India,
the majority of them Tamils, began arriving in
Malaysia early in the
Malaysian citizenship 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
Borneo are distinct from citizenship in Peninsular Malaysia
for immigration purposes. Every citizen is issued a biometric smart
chip identity card known as
MyKad at the age of 12, and must carry the
card at all times.
Population density (person per km2) in 2010
The education system 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. Since the introduction of
the matriculation programme 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-bumiputera students.
Putra Mosque in Putrajaya
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
Malaysia into a medical tourism destination, 5 per cent of
the government social sector development budget is spent on health
care. The population in concentrated on Peninsular Malaysia
where 20 million of approximately 28 million Malaysians
live. 70 per cent of the population is urban.
Kuala Lumpur is
the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, as well as its
main commercial and financial centre. Putrajaya, a purpose-built
city constructed from 1999, 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
Malaysia employs RELA, a volunteer militia with a history of
controversies, to enforce its immigration law.
Largest cities of
Main article: Religion in Malaysia
The percentage distribution of Malaysian population by religion based
on 2010 census
The constitution grants freedom of religion and makes
officially secular state, while establishing
Islam as the "religion of
the Federation". According to the Population and Housing Census
2010 figures, ethnicity and religious beliefs correlate highly.
Approximately 61.3% of the population practice Islam, 19.8% practice
Buddhism, 9.2% Christianity, 6.3%
Hinduism and 1.3% practice
Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions. 0.7%
declared no religion and the remaining 1.4% practised other religions
or did not provide any information. Sunni
of jurisprudence is the dominant branch of
Malaysia, while 18% are nondenominational Muslims.
The Malaysian constitution strictly defines what makes a "Malay",
considering Malays those who are Muslim, speak Malay regularly,
practise Malay customs, and lived in or have ancestors from Brunei,
Malaysia and Singapore. 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 populations in areas
like Penang. 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 bumiputera community (46.5%) with an additional 40.4%
identifying as Muslims.
Muslims are obliged to follow the decisions of Syariah courts in
matters concerning their religion. The Islamic judges are expected to
Shafi'i legal school of Islam, which is the main madh'hab
of Malaysia. The jurisdiction of Syariah courts is limited to
Muslims in matters such as marriage, inheritance, divorce, apostasy,
religious conversion, 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. Despite being the
supreme courts of the land, the Civil Courts do not hear matters
related to Islamic practices.
Main article: Languages of Malaysia
The distribution of language families of
Malaysia shown by colours:
(click image to enlarge)
Areas with multiple languages
The official and national language of
Malaysia is Malaysian, a
standardised form of the Malay language. The terminology as per
government policy is Bahasa
Malaysia (literally "Malaysian
language") but legislation continues to refer to the official
language as Bahasa Melayu (literally "Malay language"). The
National Language Act 1967 specifies the Latin (Rumi) script as the
official script of the national language, but does not prohibit the
use of the traditional Jawi script.
English remains an active second language, with its use allowed for
some official purposes under the National Language Act of 1967.
In Sarawak, English is an official state language alongside
Malaysian. Historically, English was the de facto
administrative language, with Malay becoming predominant after the
1969 race riots (13 May Incident). Malaysian English, also known
as Malaysian Standard English, is a form of English derived from
Malaysian English is widely used in business, along
with Manglish, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay,
Chinese, and Tamil influences. The government discourages the use of
non-standard Malay but has no power to issue compounds or fines to
those who use improper Malay on their advertisements.
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. Iban is the main tribal language in
Sarawak while Dusunic and
Kadazan languages are spoken by the natives in Sabah. Chinese
Malaysians predominantly speak Chinese dialects from the southern
provinces of China. The more common Chinese varieties in the country
are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou. Tamil
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. A small number of
Caucasian ancestry and speak creole languages, such as the
Portuguese-based Malaccan Creoles, and the Spanish-based
Main article: Culture of Malaysia
Burung Petala Procession
Burung Petala Procession in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Unfederated Malay
States (present-day Malaysia), c. 1933
Malaysia has a multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society.
The original culture of the area stemmed from indigenous tribes that
inhabited it, along with the Malays who later moved there. Substantial
influence exists from Chinese and Indian culture, dating back to when
foreign trade began. Other cultural influences include the Persian,
Arabic, and British cultures. Due to the structure of the government,
coupled with the social contract theory, there has been minimal
cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities.
In 1971, the government created a "National Cultural Policy", defining
Malaysian culture. It stated that Malaysian culture must be based on
the culture of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia, that it may
incorporate suitable elements from other cultures, and that
play a part in it. 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 have 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
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
Music of Malaysia
Music of Malaysia and Malaysian literature
A craftsman making batik.
Malaysian batik is usually patterned with
floral motifs with light colouring.
Traditional Malaysian art was mainly centred on 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, beetle nut sets, and
woven batik and songket 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
Traditional Malay music and performing arts appear to have originated
in the Kelantan-
Pattani 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, gong-based musical ensembles such as agung and
kulintang are commonly used in ceremonies such as funerals and
weddings. These ensembles are also common in neighbouring regions
such as in
Mindanao in the Philippines,
Kalimantan in Indonesia, and
Wau bulan, originally from Kelantan, is one of Malaysia's fine
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, 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 bumiputera 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.
Main article: Malaysian cuisine
The national drink and national dish of the country
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, For example, sambal
belacan (shrimp paste) are commonly used as ingredients by Chinese
restaurants to create the stir fried water spinach (kangkung
belacan). 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.
Main article: Media of Malaysia
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, which are openly sold
alongside regular newspapers. 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 have been blamed for increasing
Indonesia and Malaysia, and giving
Malaysians a bad
image of Indonesians. The country has Malay, English, Chinese,
and Tamil dailies.
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press is limited, with numerous restrictions on
publishing rights and information dissemination. The government
has previously tried to crack down on opposition papers before
elections. 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. Sabah,
where all tabloids but one are independent of government control, has
the freest press in Malaysia. Laws such as the Printing Presses
and Publications Act have also been cited as curtailing freedom of
Holidays and festivals
Public holidays in Malaysia
Southeast Asia's largest Buddhist temple—
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si in
Penang—illuminated in preparation for the Lunar New Year
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 has been declared a public holiday. The most observed
national holiday is
Hari Merdeka (
Independence Day) on 31 August,
commemorating the independence of the
Federation of Malaya
Federation of Malaya in
Malaysia Day on 16 September commemorates federation in
1963. Other notable national holidays are
Labour Day (1 May) and
the King's birthday (first week of June).
Muslim holidays 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, Malay for Eid
ul-Adha), Maulidur Rasul (birthday of the Prophet), and others being
Malaysian Chinese celebrate festivals such as Chinese
New Year and others relating to traditional Chinese beliefs. Hindus in
Malaysia celebrate Deepavali, the festival of lights, while
Thaipusam is a religious rite which sees pilgrims from all over the
country converge at the Batu Caves. Malaysia's Christian
community celebrates most of the holidays observed by Christians
elsewhere, most notably Christmas and Easter. East
celebrate a harvest festival known as Gawai, and another one
known as Kaamatan. Despite most festivals being identified with a
particular ethnic or religious group, celebrations are universal. In a
custom known as "open house"
Malaysians participate in the
celebrations of others, often visiting the houses of those who
identify with the festival.
Main article: Sport in Malaysia
Logo of the XVI
Commonwealth Games held in
Kuala Lumpur in 1998
Traditional sports such as the martial art style
Silat Melayu persist
alongside modern sports.
Popular sports in
Malaysia include association football, badminton,
field hockey, bowls, tennis, squash, martial arts, horse riding,
sailing, and skate boarding. Football is the most popular sport
Malaysia and the country is currently studying the possibility of
bidding as a joint host for 2034 FIFA World Cup. Badminton
matches attract thousands of spectators, and since 1948
been one of four countries to hold the Thomas Cup, the world team
championship trophy of men's badminton. The Malaysian Lawn Bowls
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
ranked 13th in the world as of December 2015. The 3rd Hockey
World Cup was hosted at
Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, as well as
the 10th cup. The country also has its own Formula One
track–the Sepang International Circuit. It runs for 310.408
kilometres (192.88 mi), and held its first Grand Prix in
1999. Traditional sports include Silat Melayu, the most common
style of martial arts practised by ethnic Malays in Malaysia, Brunei,
Federation of Malaya
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. The council was renamed the Olympic
Malaysia in 1964, and has participated 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 six Olympic medals, five in
Badminton, one in Platform diving. The country has competed at
Commonwealth Games since 1950 as Malaya, and 1966 as Malaysia, and
the games were hosted in
Kuala Lumpur in 1998. The most
common martial arts are
Silat Melayu and kickboxing or tomoi.
Environment of Malaysia
International rankings of Malaysia
List of Malaysia-related topics
Malay units of measurement
Outline of Malaysia
/məˈleɪʒə/ ( listen) mə-LAY-zhə
/məˈleɪsiə/ ( listen) mə-LAY-see-ə
Malay pronunciation: [məlejsiə]
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