Malaysia is located in South East Asia bordered by the South China Sea and Southern Thailand. It covers an area of around 127,350 square miles (329,850 square kilometres), which is a few hundred times the size of its neighbouring country, Singapore. Malaysia has 13 states and the capital city is Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is divided into East Malaysia which consists of two states and West Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia).
History of Malaysia
Before 1963, Malaysia was known as Malaya. There is evidence of human habitation in Malaya 40,000 years ago. During the 15th century, Parameswara founded the first state in Malaya which is now known as Malacca. In 1511, Malaya was conquered by the Portuguese who were building their empire. About 200 years later, the British set foot in Malaysia and took over the states one at a time. This was the time where they implemented the transport system and education system of Malaya. The British also brought in labour from China and India to work at the mines and plantation areas. The British were in power for about a hundred and fifty years before the Japanese army attacked them during World War II. During this time, the fight for independence among the locals was eminent. Soon after the Japanese left due to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, Malaya finally gained independence from the British in 1957 where Tunku Abdul Rahman was elected as first prime minister. Malaysia was formed in 1963, where Malaya, Singapore and the two states in East Malaysia combined forces to become one country. Singapore left and became an independent country not long after this event in 1965.
Population of Malaysia
The population of Malaysia is estimated to be around 28 million people in 2010, making it the 43rd most populated country in the world. Its population is made up of many ethnic groups â€“ Malays being the largest ethnic group at 50% followed by 24% being Chinese and 7% being Indians. There is a high population concentration in Peninsular Malaysia whereas in East Malaysia, the majority of the population consists of the Iban and Kadazan tribe. The official language in Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia but many people can also communicate in English. The Chinese and Indian people can also converse in their own mother tongue besides English. English is used as a business language in the private sector in Malaysia. In the public sector, Bahasa Malaysia is used as a medium of communication.
Geography and Climate of Malaysia
Malaysia is situated on the equator, thus contributing to its hot and humid climate. The daily average temperature in Malaysia is around 27 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) in the day and a little cooler in the night. Malaysia experiences heavy rain falls from November to February. Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia which is located in Sabah in East Malaysia.
Economy of Malaysia
The economy of Malaysia consisted mainly of mining and agriculture during the early years after formation. At that time, the plantation sector consisted of mainly rubber trees, which then slowly transformed to palm oil plantations. In the 1980's, Malaysia started to become more industrialized, attracting foreign investment into the country. Many factories were set up during this time due to the cheap labour available in the country. The petroleum industry also developed during this time which is currently one of Malaysia's export activities.
Malaysia was one of the countries which suffered during the Asian crisis in 1997, but they managed to sustain because of the quick action by the then prime minister, Dr Mahathir who quickly pegged the Malaysian ringgit to the US dollar.
Culture in Malaysia
Malaysia is a multicultural country made up of many races, each having their own unique culture. Because of the variety of races in Malaysia, there are many festivals celebrated such as Hari Raya for the Malays, Chinese New Year for the Chinese and Deepavali for the Indians. Other minority races each have their own unique celebrations. This multicultural setting allows Malaysians to learn about each other's culture and provides an opportunity for harmonious living. The variety of different cultures also impacts on the performing arts in the country and architecture of traditional buildings. The main religion in Malaysia is Islam; however other races are free to practice and preach their own religions.
The Malaysian cuisine is greatly influenced by the variety of cultures in the country. It uses a variety of spices and herbs, making some of the most popular food available spicy. Rice is a staple food here, where it is often served with side dishes. It is very common to find Chinese restaurants serving tasty Malaysian food. Hawker centers are also popular in Malaysia which allows its people to enjoy a variety of different foods in one place. Malay and Indian food also plays a big role in the variety of choices available for diners. Some of the most popular foods in Malaysia are Char Kway Teow, which is a dish of fried rice noodles with prawns and Nasi Lemak, which is coconut rice served with curry, chilli paste and fried anchovies.
Places to Visit in Malaysia
Malaysia is known for its beautiful islands such as Langkawi Island and Redang Island which boasts white sandy beaches and makes a perfect place for sun tanning. Beautiful resorts populate those areas, making it a great getaway destination from the busy city life. Water sports such as boat rides are popular in these places.
Places like Penang Island and Malacca are popular for its food. In Malacca, tourists can appreciate its prehistoric memorials such as the A-Famosa built by the Portugese. Malaysia is also known for a shopping destination due to the high number of large shopping centers available. One of the biggest sales to note is the Year End Sale which goes on at the end of each year. Malaysia also houses one of the tallest buildings in the world known as the Petronas Twin Towers which sits at a height of 88 storeys. If you are looking for nightlife activities, Kuala Lumpur hosts some of the best night spots for you to party the night away.