Malaysia / The Country and its People

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Malaysia / Geography

North-South Expressway
Photo: Malaysia's North-South Expressway

Malaysia is composed of two parts. Peninsular Malaysia is a long portion of land which extends from the border of Thailand to Singapore. The northern part is mostly covered by dense jungle, while the central part is lightly populated. The western part is a fertile plain extending down to the sea.

East Malaysia, the other part of the country, is adjacent to the southern part of Indonesian state of Kalimantan. It is divided between Sarawak and Sabah, with the country of Brunei between them.

Malaysia comprises 13 states and two federal territories - Kuala Lumpur and Labuan (an island off the coast of Sabah). Nine of the states have a hereditary ruler respectively from which the Supreme Head of State, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong(King) is elected every five years.

The government is based on parliamentary democracy. The head of the government, the Prime Minister heads the Cabinet of Ministers.

Manufacturing forms the largest single component of Malaysia's economy. Malaysia is one of the world's largest producers of rubber, tin, palm oil, timber, pepper and petroleum. Tourism, too, is emerging as a major revenue earner.

Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of the U. S. Pacific Standard Time.

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Malaysia / Climate

Park, Perak

Malaysia is a tropical paradise situated 7 degrees north of the Equator. The climate is warm and humid throughout the year with cooler temperatures in the hill resorts. Temperatures range from 21 degrees Centigrade to 32 degrees Centigrade. Average annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm - 2, 500 mm and humidity is high all year round.

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Malaysia / Population

Restaurant
Photo: Many Malaysian enjoy eating in an open air food stall.

Malaysia is a multi-racial country with a population of approximately 19.9 million. This consist of the main racial groups of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and a very diverse group of indigenous people in Sabah and Sarawak. The Orang Asli are the aboriginal people of Peninsular Malaysia, with an estimated population of over 60,000 and who, for the most part, still lead a simple yet fascinating lifestyle. Sabah's indigenous groups include the Kadazan/Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus, Lotud, Orang Sungei, Kadayan, Bisaya and many other subgroups. The Ibans forms the largest indigenous group in Sarawak, the rest are the Bidayuhs, the Melanaus and the Orang Ulus.

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Malaysia/ Religion

Kapitan Kling Mosque, Penang
Photo: Kapitan Kling Mosque in Penang.

The different types of religion in Malaysia reflects the variety of races living there. Islam is the official religion but Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other religions are practiced freely.

Islam is practiced predominantly by the Malays. Most of the Chinese believe in Buddhism and Taoism but others are Christians. Hinduism is mostly practiced by the region's Indian population. Many indigenous people have converted to Christianity but others still practiced animism.

Religious rule in Kelantan.