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Malaysia, Its Geography & History

Be drawn to a nation so peaceful and safe. A country made up of the Malays, Chinese and Indian. A potpourri enriched with the indigenous traditions of Ibans, Kadazan, Dusuns and other ethnic communities of East Malaysia. With a diversity of races and religions, cultures and traditions, Malaysia is indeed the perfect setting for colourful celebrations and joyous festivals. Malaysia is also an excellent destination for romantic getaways, especially for honeymooners seeking an idyllic tropical retreat with modern amenities. Basically an insular country, it has a seemingly unending coastline and pristine beaches. There are also numerous scenic islands in Malaysia's territorial waters. From the large and developed island of Penang to small rock outcrops jutting out from the sea, the country, with its rich marine flora and fauna, has earned a reputation of being a diver's paradise. For land-based adventurers, there are cascading waterfalls and cool evergreen forest and mountains with fascinating panoramic views.    

Official Name

Federation Of Malaysia

Capital

Kuala Lumpur

Population

25million (2005)

Area

330,434 sq km

Currency

Ringgit (RM)

Religion

Islam (official), Hinduism, Buddhism

Literacy

83%

National Language

Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language but English is widely spoken.

Languages

Malay (official), English, Chinese, Tamil

Prime Minister

Dato's Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Major Cities

Penang George Town, Ipoh, Johor Baharu, Melaka, Petaling Jaya

Climate

Hot and humid Temperatures range from 21c to 32c. Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm

GMT

+ 8 Hours

Geographical Location

Located between 2 and 7 degrees north of the Equator. Peninsular Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. To the north of Peninsular Malaysia is Thailand while its southern neighbour is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei Darussalam

Government

Parliament democracy with a bicameral legislative system. The Head of State is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister.

Visa Requirements

Visitors to Malaysia must be in possession of valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting period. Most nationalities do not require

 
MALAYSIA MAP

The Federation of Malaysia comprises of two noncontiguous regions's Peninsular, or West, Malaysia and East Malaysia's separated by some 400 miles (650 km) of the South China Sea. Peninsular Malaysia (50,810 square miles [131,598 square km]) occupies the southern half of the Malay Peninsula; it is about 500 miles (800 km) long and 200 miles (325 km) wide and is bordered on the north by Thailand, on the south by Singapore.

  
INTRODUCTION

Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a federation of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. But Malaya became independent in 1957 and Singapore's separated in 1965.

Location of Malaysia

Malaysia is located in Southeastern Asia. Thailand borders West Malaysia on the north, and Singapore lies off the southern coastal tip. East Malaysia occupies the northern section of Borneo Island, as well as offshore islands. East Malaysia also shares Borneo with Brunei, which lies on a small section of the northern coast, and also with the Kalimantan region of Indonesia, which lies to the south.

Physical Map of Malaysia

Malaysia is divided into two regions, known as West Malaysia and East Malaysia. West Malaysia, also known as Peninsular Malaysia, consists of the southern portion of the Malay Peninsula and nearby islands. The coastal plains rise to hills and mountains.

Climate of Malaysia

Except for the highlands, Malaysia's climate is hot and humid round the year. Average daily temperatures vary from about 20c to 30c and the average annual rainfall for the peninsula is about 2,500 mm. The exposed northern slopes of Sarawak and Sabah receive as much as 5,080 mm of rain per year. 

Flora And Fauna of Malaysia

The flora of Malaysia spreads out to coastal mangrove forests in lowland tropical forests and at elevations over 3,900 ft, to mossy or mountain oak forests. The country is estimated to contain 8,000 species of flowering plants, including some 2,500 species of trees. Some of the most important commercial timber species like mahogany and teak are also found here. The world's largest flower, the giant rafflesia (also known as corpse lily), and the largest of the pitcher plants, the Nepenthes rajah, which can hold up to 2 liters of water, grow here.

As far as fauna of Malaysia is concerned, the country has everything from Asian elephants to tigers to bears to rhinoceroses to some 500 species of birds 

MALAYSIA HISTORY

Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia at one of the world's major crossroads, Malaysia has always been pivotal to trade routes from Europe, the Orient, India and China. Its warm tropical climate and abundant natural blessings made it a congenial destination for immigrants as early as 5,000 years ago when the ancestors of the Orang Asli, the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, settled here, probably the pioneers of a general movement from China and Tibet. The peninsula came under the rule of the Cambodian-based Funan, the Sumatran-based Srivijaya and the Java-based Majapahit empires, before the Chinese arrived in Melaka in 1405. They were followed by the Malays, who brought with them skills in farming and the use of metals. Around the first century BC, strong trading links were established with China and India, and these had a major impact on the culture, language and social customs of the country.

Evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist period in the history of Malaysia can today be found in the temple sites of the Bujang Valley and Merbok Estuary in Kedah in the north west of Peninsular Malaysia, near the Thai border. The spread of Islam, introduced by Arab and Indian traders, brought the Hindu-Buddhist era to an end by the 13th century. With the conversion of the Malay-Hindu rulers of the Melaka Sultanate (the Malay kingdom which ruled both side of the Straits of Malaka for over a hundred years), Islam was established as the religion of the Malays, and had profound effect on Malay society.

The first Muslim empire in Malaya, based on the trading port of Malacca on the western side of the peninsula, was formed under the rule of King Parameswara in the first quarter of the 15th century. Early in the 16th century, the Portuguese moved in and, after capturing Malacca, established a number of fortified bases in the region. Sultan Mahmud, the ruler of Malacca at the time, was unable to recapture it immediately. However, his successors - who had moved to Johore on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula - noted the arrival of the Dutch in the region at the end of the century and formed an alliance with them to expel the Portuguese in 1641.The British acquired Melaka from the Dutch in 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra. From their new bases in Malaka, Penang and Singapore, collectively known as the Straits settlements, the British, through their influence and power, began the process of political integration of the Malay states of Peninsular Malaysia.

After World War II and the Japanese occupation from 1941-45, the British created the Malayan Union 1946.This was abandoned in 1948 and the Federation of Malaya emerged in its place. The Federation gained its independence from Britain on 31 August 1957. Singapore, which had a mostly Chinese population, remained outside the federation as a British crown colony. Peninsular Malaysia became an independent nation called Malaya in 1957. When the British flag was finally lowered in Kuala Lumpur's Dataran Merdeka in 1957, Tunku became the first prime minister of Malaya. In September 1963, Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form Malaysia, a country whose potpourri of society and customs derives from its rich heritage from four of the world's major cultures - Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Western  

MALAYSIA CULTURE

Malaysia is a multicultural society, with Malays, Chinese and Indians living side by side. The Malays are the largest community, numbering 60% of the population, follows Muslim religion, speak Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and are largely responsible for the political fortunes of the country. The Chinese comprise of about a quarter of the population, are mostly Buddhists, Taoists or Christian, and speak the Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka and Teochew dialects, and have been historically dominant in the business community. The Indians account for about 10% of the population, are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India, speaking Tamil, Malayalam, and some Hindi, and live mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula. There is also a sizeable Sikh community. Eurasians, Kampucheans, Vietnamese, and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population. Malay is the official language of the country but English is widely spoken. 

MALAYSIA ACCESS

Situated at the crossroads of South-East Asia. Malaysia is easily accessible from most parts by air, surface and sea links. Over 40 international airlines fly into the country while national carrier, Malaysia Airlines has a global network that spans six continents and a national network that covers more than 36 local destinations.  

By Air

A large number of visitors to Malaysia arrive by air. There are six international airports in Malaysia with the main gateway being the KL International Airport(KLIA) at Sepang in the state of Selangor. The rest of the the country including the Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan in East Malaysia is well serviced by 14 domestic airports and airstrips for the rural areas. KLIA is located about 50km from the city of Kuala Lumpur and linked via the ELITE Expressway, which runs north to Kuala Lumpur. The journey takes about an hour. The KTM Komuter train service operates from Kuala Lumpur to the town of Nialal, which is a junction point to other towns.  

By Sea

Both Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarwak in Borneo are accessible via their sea ports. Malaysia??????s largest modern sea port is Port Klang located midway on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It has excellent harbourage and is a major shipping and cargo terminal. Other seaports are located at Penang and Lang kawi in the North of Peninsualr Malaysia, Johor to the south, Kuantan on the East Coast and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.  

By Road and Rail

Located 48km north of Alor Setar in the northern state of Kedah, Bukit Kayu Hitam is the main entry point into Malaysia for visitors from Thailand. The Malaysian immigration and customs post is located near restaurants, shops, car parks and a duty-free shopping complex. The North-South Expressway links Bukit Kayu Hitam to Kuala Lumpur, 490 km away. Padang Besar in Malaysia??????s northern-most state of Perlis serves as another entry point. It is on the main rail route and a daily train service from Bangkok stops here. Johor Bahru is the man southern entry-point into Peninsular Malaysia for visitors entering Mlaysia from Singapore. The north-South Expressway links Johor Bahru with Kuala Lumpur 220 km to the north and takes in several towns along the way.