Brief History of Malaysia:One of the early civilizations that ruled Malaysia was the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya which ruled from the 9th to the 13th centuries. After the Srivijaya, the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit took control. Next to arrive was the state of Malacca which was ruled by a Muslim prince and began the spread of Islam in the area.
The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese. They conquered Malacca in 1511 and would control the area for over 100 years. The area would change hands to the Dutch in 1641 and then to the British in 1795. While the British were in control, they developed the industries of rubber and tin production.
Malaysia was occupied by Japan during World War II. Soon after the war the country began to move toward independence. In 1957 several of the British territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya. Malaysia was formed and became a separate independent country in 1963.
The Geography of MalaysiaTotal Size: 329,750 square km
Size Comparison: slightly larger than New Mexico
Geographical Coordinates: 2 30 N, 112 30 E
World Region or Continent: Southeast Asia
General Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
Geographical Low Point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: Gunung Kinabalu 4,100 m
Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
Major cities: KUALA LUMPUR (capital) 1.493 million; Klang 1.071 million; Johor Bahru 958,000 (2009)
The People of MalaysiaType of Government: constitutional monarchy
Languages Spoken: Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
Independence: 31 August 1957 (from UK)
National Holiday: Independence Day/Malaysia Day, 31 August (1957)
Religions: Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia
National Symbol: tiger
National Anthem or Song: Negaraku (My Country)
Economy of MalaysiaMajor Industries: Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging
Agricultural Products: Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper, timber
Natural Resources: tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
Major Exports: electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals
Major Imports: electronics, machinery, petroleum products, plastics, vehicles, iron and steel products, chemicals
Currency: ringgit (MYR)
National GDP: $463,700,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
Back to Geography Home PageTD>