Malaysia Facts

  • During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula except Singapore formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore, as well as Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo, joined the Federation. The first several years of the country’s independence were marred by a communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore’s withdrawal in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials to the development of manufacturing, services, and tourism. Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Razak (in office since April 2009) has continued these pro-business policies.


  • Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam
    2 30 N, 112 30 E
    Southeast Asia
    total: 329,847 sq km
    land: 328,657 sq km
    water: 1,190 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 67
    slightly larger than New Mexico
    total: 2,742 km
    border countries (3): Brunei 266 km, Indonesia 1,881 km, Thailand 595 km
    4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km)
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
    tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
    coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
    mean elevation: 419 m
    elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Gunung Kinabalu 4,100 m
    tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
    agricultural land: 23.2%
    arable land 2.9%; permanent crops 19.4%; permanent pasture 0.9%
    forest: 62%
    other: 14.8% (2011 est.)
    3,800 sq km (2012)
    flooding; landslides; forest fires
    air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze from Indonesian forest fires
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea

    People and Society

    30,949,962 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    noun: Malaysian(s)
    adjective: Malaysian
    Malay 50.1%, Chinese 22.6%, indigenous 11.8%, Indian 6.7%, other 0.7%, non-citizens 8.2% (2010 est.)
    Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
    note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
    Muslim (official) 61.3%, Buddhist 19.8%, Christian 9.2%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 1.3%, other 0.4%, none 0.8%, unspecified 1% (2010 est.)
    0-14 years: 28.16% (male 4,484,188/female 4,231,557)
    15-24 years: 16.86% (male 2,647,105/female 2,571,883)
    25-54 years: 41.06% (male 6,430,455/female 6,276,427)
    55-64 years: 8.06% (male 1,266,415/female 1,227,690)
    65 years and over: 5.86% (male 861,151/female 953,091) (2016 est.)
  • Source : CIA Factbook