Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations


Malaysia became a British colony and protectorate in the 18th and 19th centuries. After World War II, a period of Japanese occupation, Britain once again took control over Malaysia. The freedom movement led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) finally resulted in independence in 1957.

Malaysia was officially established in 1963, when Singapore, as well as two states in Borneo (Sabah and Sarawek) came together to form the Federation of Malaysia. The country comprises two regions separated by some 640 miles of the South China Sea. Malaysia is made up of 13 states and three federal territories. In its initial years, independent Malaysia experienced a Communist insurgency, confrontation with Indonesia, Singapore's secession and the Philippine’s claims to Sabah.

Malays make up almost 60 percent of the population, followed by Chinese (26 percent). The rest of the ethnic groups are Indians and other indigenous peoples. Ethnic Chinese control the economy, while the Malays remain the major political force. The Indians are the poorest. The groups coexist in the country, maintaining harmony, but interacting little.

The current Malaysian prime minister is Najib Abdul Razak. In March 2009, Razak was named the leader of UMNO, which guaranteed he'd be prime minister. Though Razak has promised sweeping reforms and wishes to close widening ethnic and religious gaps, his rise to political power has been marked by a governmental repression of the opposing resurgence. This crackdown allegedly employed strong-arm tactics used to quash political dissent.

Malaysia is one of Asia’s most vibrant economies, although it faces competition from its neighbors.

Malaysia faces other challenges -- especially maintaining political stability -- given the religious differences of its population and the economic gaps between the major ethnic groups. Malaysia has often been criticized by the international community for its human rights abuses. These include security laws that allow suspects to be detained without any official charges or trials.

Sources: BBC, The Economist, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
    Full Name:  Federation of Malaysia
    Form of Government:  Constitutional monarchy
   Year of Independence:  1957 (from Britain)
   Population:  25715819
   Capital:  Kuala Lumpur
   Largest City:  n/a
   Major Religion:  Muslim 60.4%; Buddhist 19.2%; Christian 9.1%; Hindu and Sikhism 6.3%; Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%; other or unknown 1.5%; none 0.8% (2000 census)
   Area:  329,847 sq km (127,355 sq miles)
   Major Languages:  Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Thai (note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan)
   Life Expectancy:  71 years (men), 76 years (women)
   Monetary Unit:  1 ringgit = 100 sen
   Main Exports:  Electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, chemicals, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles,
   GDP - Per Capita (PPP):  $15,300 (2008 est.)
   Internet Domain:  .my
   International Dialing Code:  +60