Malaysia was created in 1963 through the merging of Malaya and the former British Singapore, both of which formed West Malaysia, while Sabah and Sarawak in north Borneo composed East Malaysia. Singapore separated from the union in 1965. The first 3 years of independence of Malaysia were marred by hostilities with Indonesia (Abacci Atlas: Malaysia Atlas Entry). Malaysia had a population of 22,229,040, with the population growth rate at 1.96 per cent (July 2001 est.). The 2001 statistics showed the proportion of males slightly higher than that of females (1.01 male/female). Malaysia is a diverse country with a great degree of cultural variation among the nation’s three major ethnic groups. The indigenousMalay made up 58 per cent of the total population whileMalaysia had a considerable number of ethnic Chinese (27 per cent) and Indians (7 per cent). Diversity also exists in religion, with Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism being practised over the whole country, and Shamanism practised in East Malaysia. The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu, but English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan and Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi and Thai are also spoken in the country. Several indigenous languages are spoken in East Malaysia and the most popular ones are Iban and Kadazan. Almost 83.5 per cent of the population in Malaysia is literate (Abacci Atlas: Malaysia Atlas Entry). Malaysia, including the peninsula and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, is located in Southeast Asia, near Indonesia and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam at geographic coordinates of 230 N Latitude and 11,230 E Longitude. The country has a total area of 329,750 square kilometres consisting of 328,550 square kilometres land area and 1,200 square kilometres water area. Malaysia controls a coastline of 4,675 kilometres (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km), with 2,669 kilometres of land boundaries. Bordering countries include Brunei, 381 kilometres, Indonesia, 1,782 kilometres, and Thailand, 506 kilometres. The terrain of Malaysia is distinguished by coastal plains, which rise to hills and mountains, with elevation extremes ranging from the lowest point at Indian Ocean (0m) to the highest point Gunung Kinabalu (4,100m). In terms of climate, Malaysia has a tropical marine climate with two distinct monsoon seasons - annual southeast crops (12 per cent), forests and woodland (68 per cent) and others (17 per cent). Although, there are no permanent pastures in Malaysia, according to the 1993 estimates, a total of 2,941 square kilometre area of the country was irrigated land (Abacci Atlas: Malaysia Atlas Entry).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities(all)