The country of Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur. It is bordered on land by Thailand and it shares maritime borders with Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. Malaysia has a total land mass of 330,803 square kilometers and this land mass is divided almost equally by the South China Sea. This country is a federation of three federal territories. Two of these federal territories and 11 states make up the Peninsular Malaysia while the remaining one federal territory and 2 states make up East Malaysia.
With an estimated population of more than 30 million people, like most other countries in the world, Malaysia has its fair share of diverse ethnic groups. Another thing that you should know is that 91% of the population is the Malaysian citizenry while the rest are foreigners.
This country is a true mix-pot of cultures, people and races. Virtually every race in the world can be found there. However, the Bumiputras, also referred to as the Muslim Malays are the most populous making up more than 50 percent of the population. These people are mostly found inhabiting the Malaysia Peninsula and they are considered as Muslims who also practice the Malay culture. Other Muslims even if from other ethnic origins that practice the Malay culture can also be extended the Bumiputra privileges.
Then there is the other main group of the Malaysia population that is referred to as the “Other Bumiputra”. These are the indigenous people of Malaysia who are categorized as the Orang Asli, who are further divided into small tribes and sub-tribes.
The third category of the population is the non-Bumiputras who are not accorded the same privileges as the Bumiputras. These include the Chinese, Indian and people of European and other origins. There are also a people whose roots are in the Middle East and so on. As we said, this country is indeed a mix-pot of cultures, traditions and ethnicities.
The official language of Malaysia is the Bahasa Malaysia, which replaced English as the main language some time back. Today, English is considered the second official language and its study is compulsory in schools. It is the main language for instructions in Math and the sciences. English is also the main business language and the school exams are taken in British English.
Indians speak Tamil while the Chinese populations speak the Chinese dialects of the southern provinces of China. To put it simply, there are all of 137 languages spoken in Malaysia, including Manglish, which is a concoction of Malay and English, and one that is frowned upon officially.
Bahasa Malaysia is the main language while the administrative language is English, mainly British English.
The state religion is Islam, but the constitution of Malaysia guarantees freedom of worship and therefore many other religions are practiced here. In the order of the biggest to the smallest, we can list the religions this way: Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism and lastly, there are people who do not practice any religion.
Because of the large presence of foreigners in Malaysia, there is less consternation among first time visitors, or the so-called cultural shock, because they will find some aspect of their life back home. In fact, it has been said somewhere that the English found the Malay men to be perfect gentlemen because of their politeness and conduct.
The Malaysian cuisine is mostly a representation of the people living there. However, with the springing up of western style resorts, you should find western dishes easily. Mostly, the local foods will include rice as it is largely considered the staple food. You should also expect to find most foods cooked with chili and maybe other spices, but the food is not as spicy as Thai cuisine.
Considered the largest economy in Southeast Asia after the countries of Thailand and Indonesia, the economy can largely be classified as a newly industrialized economy. The rise of young industries brings about this name, and today, Malaysia is well known for its production of petroleum, petroleum products, electronics, timber, palm oil, tin, rubber and textiles, most of which are exported to different parts of the world including Europe, the Americas, Middle East and even Africa.
Because of the stable political situation and government incentives for investors, Malaysia has continued to enjoy the influx of foreign investors. The Chinese contribute more to the GDP of the nation as compared to other ethnic groups, even bigger than the Malay Bumiputras.
Agriculture is one of the main drivers of the economy and it provides the staple food, which is rice. The seas, rivers and lakes provide the main source of protein, which is fish. Natural gas is also one of the main exports from Malaysia as well as manufactured timber products.
In addition to industry, another economic pillar for Malaysia is tourism. In fact, in 2012, the World Travel and Tourism Council listed Malaysia at number 12 in the list of the most visited countries in the world. As of 2014, there were more than 50 million domestic tourists and about 28 million international tourists who brought in an estimated 19 billion US dollars. Among some of the many tourist attractions in Malaysia include Mount Kinabalu, Mulu Caves, Langkawi, Perhentian Islands, the museum of Islamic Arts and many more. For the shoppers, there are more than enough ultra modern shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, and one of them is the Bukit Bintang, which also has a very vibrant nightlife. A collection of sunny and sandy beaches also beckons.
Another thing that is worthy of note is medical tourism, with Malaysia offering high quality medical care than most nations in the west and therefore, many people prefer to fly to Malaysia for treatment as well as for cosmetic surgery.
In 2014, Malaysia won the Destination of the Year 2015 Medical Travel Award that was presented by the International Medical Travel Journal of the UK. In 2014 alone, the medical tourist earnings were close to 200 million US dollars and this is expected to grow by at least 15% every year, up to the year 2020. The reason for this is because Malaysia has continually marketed itself as a medical tourism destination of choice, attracting people from as far as New Zealand.
Where in the world economics does Malaysia stand? Well, it is regarded as one of the fastest growing economies in the world today, thanks to the favorable government influence on financial policies. It is also said that in Malaysia, the people enjoy the highest standard of living in South East Asia, if not in most of Asia.
The GDP was estimated at 800.17 billion dollars US in 2015 and as of 2014, the GDP growth was 6.0 percent. The labor force was somewhere above 14 million people in 2014, and these are very attractive figures indeed as compared to many nations in Asia.
With well-established electricity generation of about 140,900 Mega watts and a consumption of roughly 116,000 mega watts, you can see that there is a surplus. The road and rail network are also perfect and the extended coastline makes Malaysia a very good maritime hub from which imports are received and exports are discharged to Japan, Korea, US, China and other places.
Imports mostly include cars, electronics and more. However, Malaysia has a bustling car production industry that is dominated by names like Tata, Suzuki, Honda, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz to name but just a few of them.
Finally, in 2014, Malaysia was listed at number six in the list of the highest economies in Asia and at number 20 worldwide. Generally, the outlook for the Malaysian economy is very bright and by 2015, this country may as well become the world’s largest economy.