Malaysia is on the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The nation also includes Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo to the east. Most of Malaysia is covered by forests, with a mountain range running the length of the peninsula. Extensive forests provide ebony, sandalwood, teak, and other wood.
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia that consists of three federal territories and 13 states. Sharing land borders with Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand and maritime borders with the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, Malaysia is distinguished for founding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the East Asia Summit.
A multicultural and multi-ethnic country, Malaysia has a constitution that affirms the state religion as Islam but also protects the freedom of its citizen to practice the religion of their choice. Due to the past influence of colonialism, the government system resembles that of the Westminster Parliamentary combined with legal procedures outlined by English Common Law. The King, or head of state, is referred to as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who is elected from a list of hereditary rulers overseeing Malaysia's 13 states. The Prime Minister of Malaysia is considered the "head of government".
The majority of Malaysia's political parties are based on the ethnicity of members. Actions such as the National Development Policy were enacted to promote the status of indigenous tribes and Malaysians collectively called the Bumiputera. The Bumiputera are considered to be Malaysia's original inhabitants, rather than the Malaysian Indians or the Malaysian Chinese. Similar to the Affirmative Action policy implemented in the U.S. in the 1970s, policies like the National Development Policy give preferential treatment to the Bumiputera in regard to employment, social welfare amenities, education, and scholarships.
Essential Facts about Malaysia
- The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, currently the sixth most visited city in the world.
- Foreign policy is centered on principles of neutrality and the ability to maintain peaceful relations with all other countries regardless of political or religious systems.
- Tourism is Malaysia's third largest source of revenue from foreign exchange.
- One of Asia's most developed infrastructures is found in Malaysia, with its telecommunications network second to Singapore.
- Being born in Malaysia does not automatically grant someone citizenship. However, any child born to two Malaysian parents outside of the country is granted automatic citizenship. Malaysia does not allow dual citizenship.
- The main ethnic groups in Malaysia are the Malays and the Bumiputera. The Malaysian constitution defines Malays as Muslims who practice traditional culture and customs.
- Hari Kebangsaan, or National Day, is the most celebrated holiday in Malaysia and falls on August 31. It commemorates the independence of Malaysia from British Colonial Rule in 1957.
Climate of Malaysia
Malaysia experiences tropical weather that is not as hot as it is humid due to being surrounded by the South China Sea. The average temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 30 degrees Celsius). October through February is the rainy season for the west coast and the east coast of Malaysia sees heavy rains between November and February. Students attending school in Malaysia will hear these regions referred to as the Southwest Monsoon and the Northeast Monsoon. Monsoon is a derivative of "mausim", the Arabic word for "seasons".
Religions in Malaysia
Islam is the state religion, with about 60 percent of Malaysia's population practicing the Muslim faith. Other religions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Confucianism.
Languages in Malaysia
Malaysia's official language is Malaysian, with English being its second most spoken language. A type of English associated with British English called Malaysian Standard English is used to instruct students in public schools. Manglish is also heard, which is colloquial English influenced by Tamil and Malay Chinese. However, Malaysia does contain nearly 140 other languages that are spoken by people living near Peninsular Malaysia, the coastal areas, and East Malaysia where tribal differences in languages exist. Additionally, Malaysian is not like other Southeastern Asian languages such as Vietnamese and Thai in that it is not tonal.
The currency of Malaysia is the ringgit, formerly called the Malaysian dollar. Divided into 100 cents, the ringgit currently equals about three dollars in U.S. currency and a little over four euros.