Population: 28,334,135 (est.)
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
- The Malaysian ringgit is the official currency of Malaysia.
- The dominant religion in Malaysia is Islam, whose followers make up 61 per cent of the population. Islam is recognised as the state religion of Malaysia, although the country has a secular constitution.
- Malaysia is populated with various ethnic groups: about 55% of Malay, 25% of Chinese, 10% Indian and others.
- Malaysia has the oldest rainforest in the world, the Taman Negara National Park.
- Malaysian’s drive on the left side of the road.
- Shoes are often removed when entering a Malaysian home, and even occasionally in shops.
- The average temperature is between 70F to 90F; however, in the jungle the temperature was 105-115F.
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres (127,350 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Land borders are shared with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei, and maritime borders exist with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population was 28.33 million, with 22.6 million living on the Peninsula.
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 the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963, with si being added to give the new country the name Malaysia. 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.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on English Common Law. The constitution declares Islam the state religion while protecting freedom of religion. 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.
Malaysia contains the southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai. Located in the tropics, it is a megadiverse country, with large numbers of endemic animals, fungi and plants. 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, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.