Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia stretching 1240 miles (2000 km) from the Malay Peninsula to Sabah in eastern Borneo. The country is known for its beautiful landscapes, diverse culture, and rich history. It comprises two main regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, which the South China Sea separates. Federated in 1963, Malaysia comprises thirteen states and three federal territories, including Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital city. Interestingly, Singapore was once a part of Malaysia, but only for two years, as it gained independence in 1965. Today, Malaysia is renowned for its bustling cities, lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and incredible food scene, making it a popular destination for tourists worldwide.
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The Malay Peninsula, a region in Southeast Asia, features a range of topographical features that contribute to its diverse landscape and environment. The central mountains are at the peninsula’s center, surrounded by lowlands and fertile western plains. Beautiful beaches and stunning waterfront views characterize the eastern coastal belt of the region. At the same time, the western coast has a variety of agricultural areas with rice paddies and palm oil plantations.
In contrast, the island of Borneo, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, has a different topography. Swampy coastal plains dominate the eastern coast of Borneo, and these gradually rise to form mountains as we move further inland towards the central part of the island. Rainforests, home to numerous species of plants and animals, including the endangered orangutan, largely cover the mountains of Borneo. Overall, the diverse topography of the Malay Peninsula and Borneo contribute to their unique and vibrant ecosystems.
The climate across much of Malaysia, including the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, can be warm and equatorial. This means that temperatures tend to be high throughout the year, with little variation between seasons. Average temperatures generally range between 25°C (77°F) to 32°C (90°F), with some variation depending on altitude and location.
One defining feature of this equatorial climate is the yearly heavy rainfall. The rainy seasons are typically distinct, with periods of intense rain lasting several months, often beginning in November or December and lasting through February or March. During the rainy season, it is common for there to be frequent thunderstorms, heavy downpours, and occasional flooding, particularly in low-lying areas.
Despite the heavy rainfall, the warm equatorial climate and abundant water make much of Malaysia’s land fertile and able to support a diverse range of flora and fauna, including lush rainforests, mangroves, and coral reefs. While the weather can be unpredictable, visitors to Malaysia can take advantage of the country’s tropical climate for activities such as beach-going, nature walks, and water-based adventures.
People & Society
One of the key distinctions in Malaysia’s society is between two major ethnic groups: the Malays (also known as Bumiputras, which means “sons of the soil”) and the Chinese. This distinction between the two groups is primarily based on cultural and historical factors.
Traditionally, the Chinese in Malaysia have been heavily involved in commercial and economic activities, while the Malay population has been more focused on agriculture and rural life. Due to this division, the Chinese have historically had greater economic power and influence in Malaysian society. However, since the 1970s, Malaysia has implemented policies to address this imbalance and promote greater equity among various ethnic groups.
One such policy is the New Economic Policy (NEP), introduced in 1971. The NEP aimed to promote greater economic and social equality among Malaysia’s various ethnic groups, favoring Bumiputra Malays in education, employment, and business ownership. The goal was to ensure that Malays were included in the country’s rapid economic development and modernization.
While the NEP has successfully raised the standard of living for many Malays, it has also been criticized for perpetuating institutionalized discrimination against non-Malays, particularly the Chinese. As a result, Malaysia continues to grapple with issues related to ethnic identity, representation, and power dynamics.
Malaysia has emerged as a significant player in the global economy, with a successful and diverse industrial base that includes electronics, manufacturing, and heavy industry. The country is home to many multinational corporations that have established production facilities in Malaysia to take advantage of its skilled workforce, favorable business environment, and strategic location in Southeast Asia.
Tourism is also a major contributor to Malaysia’s economy, attracting millions of visitors each year who experience its natural beauty, rich culture, and diverse attractions. Some of the top tourist destinations in Malaysia include the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, the historic city of Malacca, the beaches of Langkawi, and the rainforests of Borneo.
In addition to its thriving industries and tourism sector, Malaysia is a leading producer of several key commodities. The country is the world’s largest palm oil producer, a crucial ingredient in various products ranging from food to cosmetics. Malaysia is also a major producer of tin and tropical hardwoods such as teak and mahogany.
Overall, Malaysia’s economic success can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its skilled workforce, favorable business environment, and abundant natural resources. As the country invests in its infrastructure and diversifies its economy, it is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the years ahead.
Malaysia is one of the major tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, attracting more than 25 million visitors annually. The country’s diverse attractions and natural beauty make it a popular destination for tourists worldwide. Some of the top tourist destinations in Malaysia include:
1. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city, offers visitors a mix of modern and traditional attractions, such as the Petronas Twin Towers and the Batu Caves.
2. The beaches and islands of Langkawi are renowned for their crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and stunning sunsets.
3. Malacca is a historic city with a rich cultural heritage and many preserved landmarks dating back to the country’s colonial period.
4. The rainforests of Borneo are home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life, including the endangered orangutan.
5. The food scene, a fusion of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences, offers visitors a wide range of delicious and distinctive flavors.
These attractions, combined with Malaysia’s warm equatorial climate, friendly people, and relatively low cost of living, make it an ideal destination for both budget and luxury travelers. Whether interested in shopping, adventure, or relaxation, Malaysia offers something for visitors of all ages and tastes.
Name: Malaysia (none), local name: none
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official language), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
ISO code: my, internet: .my
Capital city: Kuala Lumpur, GPS: 3 10 N, 101 42 E
Time: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time) (no daylight saving time)
Population: 34,219,975 (2023 estimate) (Malaysian / Malaysian(s))
Urban population: 77.7% (2021) – 8.211 million, Kuala Lumpur (capital city), 1.045 million, Johor Bahru, 828,000 Ipoh (2021)
Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Malaysia is a Southeastern Asian country. You may find 19 other countries on this continent.
Coordinates: 2 30 N, 112 30 E
Bordering countries: (3 nations): Brunei 266 km, Indonesia 1881 km, Thailand 595 km
Land area: 328,657 sq km
Water area: 1,190 sq km
Total area: 329,847 sq km – Slightly larger than New Mexico.
Terrain: Coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
Highest point: Gunung kinabalu 4,095 m
Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Major rivers: N/A
Natural hazards: Flooding, landslides, forest fires.
National holiday(s): Independence Day (or Merdeka Day), 31 August (1957) (independence of Malaya); Malaysia Day, 16 September (1963) (formation of Malaysia)
Did you know about Malaysia?
- Malaysia is one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, which is used in a wide range of products from food to cosmetics.
- The national language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia, but English is widely spoken and used in business and government.
- The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, completed in 1998, were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004.
- Malaysia is known for its diverse cuisine, influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European culinary traditions.
- Malaysia is home to the world’s largest cave chamber, the Sarawak Chamber, located in the Gunung Mulu National Park and big enough to fit a Boeing 747.
You may also be interested in Brunei, Indonesia, and Thailand.
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