Malaysia is a very colorful country in Southeast Asia, very culturally diverse due to the different influences from its indigenous people, the Malays, the generations of Chinese traders that made Malaysia their home and the Indians and other ethnic groups whose cultural influences shaped the Malaysia that we know today.
Aside for the diverse traditions, Malaysia also imbibed colorful festivals, styles of clothing, architecture, religion, culinary secrets and various modes of life. Malaysians love to socialize and celebrate because they are warm, friendly and laid back.
As diverse as its culture, Malaysia is divided into 13 states and 3 Federal territories in total. Eleven states namely Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor and Terengganu and two Federal territories, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are in Peninsular Malaysia. Sabah and Serawak are the two states located in East Malaysia and one federal state, Labuan. Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and the seat of the Federal government is located in Putrajaya.
Attesting to its multiculturalism is Malaysia’s extreme contrasts. Here you will see wooden houses built on stilts several feet away from five-star hotels and towering skyscrapers like the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, once the world’s tallest twin buildings in the world until 2004.
While English is the international language when conducting business, it is still important to have your important documents translated into the local language as part of business etiquette. Our professional translators are available to provide you with efficient, reliable accurate and fast translation services while you are doing business in Malaysia.
In this Country Profile
:: Background of Malaysia ::
Malaysia is located in the spice route, and traders and settlers around the region, predominantly composed of Chinese and Indians begun arriving in the peninsula around the 1st century AD and by the 3rd century, trading ports and towns have already been firmly established.
Sanskrit inscriptions begun to appear around the 4thyor 5th century and Buddhism and Hinduism were the dominant religions. For six centuries (7th to 13th centuries), the Malay Peninsula was under the rule of the Srivijaya empire, an ancient maritime kingdom from Sumatra, now Indonesia. A prince of the ancient empire, Parameswara founded the Malacca Sultanate, believed to be the first independent state in the Malay Peninsula and became a Muslim, accelerating the conversion of Malays to Islam.
Several colonies ruled Malaysia since the 15th century. It was first conquered by Portugal in 1511 and then taken by the Dutch soon after. By 1786 the sultan of Kedah had leased the island of Penang to the British Empire through the British East Indian Company.
The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 caused Malacca to be under British control and by 1826 they were controlling Penang, Malacca, Labuan. Labuan was established as the crown colony based on the Straits Settlement and the Federated Malay States, consisting of Pahang, Selangor, Perak and Negeri Sembilan hade British residents as advisers to the Malay rulers who had to defer to them, also based on the treaty. The rest of the Malay states, which were still not under British rule, also had British advisers.
The Japanese army invaded and occupied Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore during World War II and ruled the states for three years until Allied Forces reconquered Malaya. The British planned to unite the administration of Malaya after the war but were met with very strong opposition from the Malays, who strongly felt the weakening of the Malay rulers. They also opposed the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese.
The Malayan Union, consisting of all those states under British rule in the Malay Peninsula, excluding Singapore was dissolved in 1948, giving back the autonomy of the Malay states to their rulers, although they were still under British protection. The Malayan Communist Party, the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) started a campaign to oust the British from Malaya and the campaign lasted from 1948 to 1960, with frequent clashes between the anti-insurgency group led by Commonwealth troops and the MNLA.
By August 31, 1963 the British crown colonies of Sabah, Sarawak, including Singapore were proposed to be federated to form Malaysia. It was delayed until September 16, 1963 mainly due to the opposition of Serawak United People’s Party, consisting of working class Chinese and leftists, many of whom were involved in underground communist activities and Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. Singapore became an independent state, separating from Malaysia on August 9, 1965.
Independence brought tension in the region, heightened by the conflict with Indonesia due to the formation of Malaysia. The racial tension between the Malays and the Chinese resulted in the May 13, 1969 race riots where many were killed. Officially the casualty tally was only 196 although the media reported that more than 2,000 people died between May 13 and July 31. The riot caused the declaration of national emergency as it resulted in the suspension of parliament, the establishment of a temporary National Operations Council, the resignation of Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and the implementation of the controversial New Economic Policy.
The goals of the New Economic Policy or NEP were to restructure the economy and eradicate poverty through the redistribution of wealth by changing the share of economic ownership, favoring the Bumiputras or the indigenous people of Malaysia. It was implemented in 1971 when Tun Abdul Razak was made Prime Minister. New business and large-scale manufacturing industries were created and expanded under the NEP. By the time Mahathir bin Mohamad became Prime Minister in 1981 there was already rapid economic growth and economic diversity due to the shift from being an agriculture-based economy to give more focus to services, tourism and manufacturing. The shift saw the emergence of very huge projects like the North-South Expressway, the Multimedia Super Corridor and the Petronas Tower as well as the transfer of the federal administrative capital to Putrajaya.
Malaysian government follows a bicameral legislative system. The country is headed by the King or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is changed every five years among the rulers of Malaysia. The current King is Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu whose reign started on December 13, 2006. Adopting a democratic parliamentary, the Prime Minister heads the government, which is appointed by the King. Currently the position is occupied by Najib Razak who assumed office on April 3, 2009.
:: Geography of Malaysia ::
Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia, amidst the South China Sea, which separates Malaysia into two regions with East Malaysia to the east and Peninsular Malaysia to the west. Peninsular Malaysia is bordered by Thailand on the north, Singapore on the south, Strait of Malacca on the west and Sumatra, Indonesia on the east. A large part of East Malaysia shares borders with Borneo and Kalimantan, Indonesia and the rest is bordered by the Celebes Sea and Brunei.
Malaysia’s latitude is 2° 30’ north of the equator while its longitude is 112° 30’ East of Greenwich.
Total: 329,847 sq. km.
Land: 328, 657 sq. km.
Water: 1,190 sq. km.
Comparative Area Size
In terms of land area, Malaysia, with a total land area of 329,847 sq km is slightly larger than New Mexico in the United States, which has a total area of 315,194 sq km.
Total land boundary of Malaysia is 2,669 km, shared with Brunei for 381 km, with Indonesia for 1,782 km and with Thailand for 506 km.
Malaysia is composed of two regions separated by the South China Sea, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, which is also known as Malaysian Borneo. Its total coastline is 4,675 long. Peninsular Malaysia has a coastline of 2,068 km and East Malaysia has 2,607 km.
• Malaysia lays claim to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters from its baseline.
• Contiguous zone is 24 nautical miles from its coast.
• Exclusive economic zone covers 200 nautical miles from the coast.
• Continental shelf of Malaysia is 200 meters deep or to the extent of its continental margin; specified boundary in the South China Sea.
Malaysia’s climate is basically tropical climate with the annual southwest monsoons prevailing from April to October and the northeast monsoons being active from the months of October to February. Temperatures are fairly high but uniform, between 73 degrees Fahrenheit to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, with very high humidity.
The majority of Malaysia’s terrain is covered by swamps and rainforests. The terrain of Peninsular Malaysia is composed of coastal plains in the east and west regions and a range of steep mountains covered by forests. Sarawak has an alluvial swampy coastal plain, rolling country with intervals of mountain ranges with rainforest-covered mountainous interior. The Crocker Mountains, which extends inland for about 48 kilometers north and south, divides Sabah into two.
Lowest Point – sea level along the Indian Ocean at 0 meters
Highest Point – In the mainland, the highest point is Mount Kinabalu, which rises to 13,451 feet.
Malaysia is considered as one of the top exporters of natural rubber and palm oil. It also exports timber. Petroleum, natural gas and tin contribute greatly to Malaysia’s economy. The country is also rich in copper, iron ore, bauxite and coal and has deposits of clay, silica, limestone, barite, kaolin, phosphates granite and marble.
Arable Land: Fifty-six percent of the total land area of Malaysia is arable, which are planted with crops such as wheat, rice and maize. Permanent crops or those not replanted after each harvest such as coffee, citrus, rubber, flowering shrubs, vines and fruit and nut trees cover 17.54% of the total land area. Other areas used for other purposes such as meadows, pastures, barren land, woodlands, forests, roads and built-on areas total 77% according to the 2005 data figures.
Flooding, forest fires and landslides are some of the natural hazards that occur in Malaysia regularly.
Current Issues: Economic development plays a major role in the environmental issues that plague developing nations. Malaysia like other countries is also suffering from air pollution due to industrial and vehicular emissions and also has to contend with water pollution due to the increasing amount of raw sewage. Smoke and haze from Indonesian forest fires affect the country. Deforestation is also getting to be an environmental problem as escalates the frequency of occurrence of natural hazards in the country.
Environmental protection is a priority in the region and Malaysia participating in several international and regional efforts in support of the reduction, application, research and promotion of biodiversity, climate change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, desertification, endangered species, hazardous wastes, law of the sea, marine life conservation, ship pollution, tropical timber 83, tropical timber 94, ozone layer protection and wetlands. Malaysia has signed the international agreements but has not yet ratified any of the agreements.
:: People of Malaysia ::
The current population of Malaysia (2010 figures) is 28,306,700. July 2011 population estimate puts it at 28,728,607.
• 0 – 14 years ——– 29.6% total, with 4,374,495 males and 4,132,009 females
• 15 – 64 years ——- 65.4% total, with 9,539,972 males and 9,253,574 females
• 65 years and over — 5% total, with 672,581 males and 755,976 females based on 2011 estimates
Total: 26.8 years
Male: 26.7 years
Female 27.0 years according to 2011 estimates
POPULATION GROWTH RATE
According to 2011 estimates, the annual birth rate in Malaysia is 1.576%. Birth rate is estimated (2011) at 21.08 births/1,000 population. Death rate, according to the July 2011 estimate is at 4.93 deaths/1,000 population while the net migration rate is -0.39 migrants/1,000 population. This 2011 estimated figure does not reflect the net flow of illegal immigrants from other countries around the region whose number is unknown.
• At Birth 1.069 male(s) / female
• Under 15 years 1.06 male(s) / female
• 15 – 64 years 1.01 male(s) / female
• 65 years and over 0.79 male(s) / female
• Total Population 1.01 male(s) / female (2011 estimate)
Infant mortality rate in Malaysia according to 2011 estimates place the total figures at 15.02/1,000 live births. The breakdown is 17.37/1,000 live births for males and 12.52/1,000 births for female.
LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH
Total Population: 73.79 years
The 2011 estimates for life expectancy at birth for males in Malaysia is around 71.9 years and 76.4 years for females.
TOTAL FERTILITY RATE
There are 3.67 children born for every woman In Malaysia, according to the 2011 estimates.
Based on estimates done in 2009, HIV / AIDS statistics show the following:
• HIV / AIDS – Adult Prevalence Rate
HIV/AIDS in Malaysia is prevalent in 0.5% of its adult population.
• HIV / AIDS – People living with HIV/AIDS
It was estimated in 209 that there are about 100,000 people In Malaysia who are living with HIV/AIDS.
• HIV / AIDS – Deaths
2009 estimate place deaths due to HIV/AIDS at 5,800.
NATIONALITY: Malaysian (s) (noun); Malaysian (adjective)
Ethnic Groups: (2004 estimates)
• Malay 50.4%
• Chinese 23.7%
• Indigenous 11.0%
• Indians 7.1%
• Others 7.8%
• Islam 60.4%
• Buddhism 19.2%
• Christianity 9.1%
• Hinduism 6.3%
Other Traditional Chinese 2.6%
• Other/Unknown 1.5%
• None 0.8%
Bahasa Malaysia or simply Malay is the official language in Malaysia. Other predominant languages spoken are various Chinese dialects such as Cantonese, Foochow, Hainan, Hakka, Hokkien and Mandarin, English, Tamil, Thai, Panjabi and Malayalam. The indigenous people in East Malaysia speak many indigenous languages, with Iban and Kadazan more widely spoken.
Literacy rate in Malaysia is high, with 88.7% of the total population over 15 can read and write. Literacy rate for females is 85.4%, slightly lower than the males, which is around 92%. Although kindergarten is not compulsory, more Malaysian children are starting to attend kindergarten between the age of three and six. Primary education, lasting 6 years is compulsory but children are not compelled to attend secondary school.