History Background

There is a strong interlink between the country's multi-racial and multicultural make-up and its history. Besides the local Malays and the native groups, immigrants from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world have all contributed to the multiracial composition of its population.

Its interesting cultural diversity can be largely attributed to the country's long and on-going interaction with the outside world and colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Consequently, the evolution of the country into a cultural melting pot is evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural activities and traditions, dressing, languages and food. The country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as The Federation of Malaya and with the subsequent entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, Malaysia was formed

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Malaysia is a nation of diversity in unity where Malays, Chinese, Indians and the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak live in  cultural harmony. Once you have overcome your jet-lag fatigue, step into the  heart of Malaysia-the citizens of the country. You would be pleasantly surprised at the warmth of Malaysians. For deeply entrenched within each of the different race is the engaging charm and traditional hospitality which the country is renowned for. Malaysians enjoy meeting people from other lands. So, do go right ahead and strike up a conversation. After all, the whole point of traveling is to know other cultures.

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Malaysia is one of the most developed countries in the ASEAN region. Its economy is largely dependent on manufacturing products such as electrical and electronic products, textiles, as well as rubber-based products, followed by the agricultural and mining sectors. Malaysia is also one of the world's largest exporters of palm oil, natural rubber, tropical timber, cocoa beans and pepper. Tourism is also a leading revenue earner.

Since Independence in 1957, it has moved away from its reliance on tin and rubber and diversified its economy by aggressively attracting investment, both foreign and domestic. After Singapore and Brunei, it is the most developed country in South-East Asia, with the highest standard of living. Malaysia's rapid increase in manufacturing has been achieved by modernising the country's transport, communications and energy infrastructure, developing industrial zones and offering substantial tax breaks for investors in export-oriented industries.

The Government has promoted a relatively open, market-oriented economy and has instituted significant reforms by dismantling many state-run enterprises and encouraging private enterprise to undertake many of the country's development projects. Through promoting a free market in some areas, the Government is also an investor in the economy (usually as a minority partner) and controls prices on some key commodities such as fuel and rice.

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The National Language, Bahasa Malaysia is established as such under Article 152 of the Constitution, which also safeguards other languages by stipulating that no person may be prohibited or prevented from using (except for official purposes) or from teaching or learning any other language. As the national language, Bahasa Malaysia has to  be used for official purposes which includes its use by federal and state governments, and as defined by the constitutional amendment of 1971 by all authorities (including local authorities) and statutory bodies. By the same constitutional amendment the status of Bahasa Malaysia may not be questioned, and any amendment to Article 152 can only be made with the consent of the Conference of Rulers.

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Malaysia is situated right in the heart of South East Asia and is divided into two geographical sections: Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak in North Borneo. The two parts are separated 650km (403 miles) apart by the South China Sea. Peninsular Malaysia's neighbors are Thailand and Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak border Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo) and Sarawak surrounds the tiny enclave of Brunei. The Andaman Sea is on the West Coast of the peninsula. The East Coast of the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak all adjoin the South China Sea.

Peninsular Malaysia accounts for 40% of the country's landmass. There are several mountain ranges running north- south along the backbone of the peninsula. A wide, fertile plain trails the West Coast, while a narrow coastal plain runs along the east. Sabah and Sarawak are covered by dense jungles and have large river networks. These rivers are still the main means of transportation to the natives of these two states. Over 60% of the country is still rainforest, and there are 8000 species of flowering plants (in Peninsular Malaysia alone) which includes 2000 tree species, 800 different orchids and 200 types of palm, not forgetting a myriad of wildlife animals. There are also an abundance and variety of bird populations from all over the  world that can be found in East Malaysia

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Malaysia is hot and humid all year round. With temperatures  usually between 20-30C (68-86F); and humidity level at  90%.  The wettest season on the West Coast of the peninsula is between September and December; on the East Coast and in Sabah and Sarawak, it's between October and February. Rain often comes in short, strong bursts and  hides the sun but on  temporarily.

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  Information provided by Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.


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