Malaysia is a tropical country in Southeast Asia. It is divided into two parts by the South China Sea. Its main land is located on the Malay Peninsula and faces the Straits of Malacca on its west coast and on the South China Sea on its east coast. The other part of this country, sometimes known as East Malaysia, is located on the northern part of the island of Borneo on the South China Sea. Kuala Lumpur on the Malay Peninsula is its capital, but the federal capital was recently moved to Putrajaya, a newly created city for administration. It is a federal state made from 13 states.
There are various ethnic groups in Malaysia, such as Chinese, Malay and Indian. Its official language is Malay but English is often used in education and economic scenes. There are over 130 other languages spoken in Malaysia, with 94 in Malaysian Borneo and 40 on the peninsula. Although Islam is their official religion, the citizens have the freedom to practise other religions.
Between China and India, Malaysia was an ancient trading place. When Europeans came to this area, Malacca became an important trade port.
Malay states became a colony of the British Empire. The peninsular part became independent on August 31, 1957 as the Federation of Malaya. In 1963, Singapore and the Borneo part joined the federation and the federation changed its name to Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore broke off and declared independence.
Politics and economy.
Malaysia has 13 states and three federal territories. Its current prime minister is Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi. It also has a parliament and a court system. It is a member of ASEAN. Its economy is steadily growing and it is a relatively rich country in South East Asia.
Major cities in Malaysia are Kuala Lumpur, George Town, Ipoh and Johor Bahru.
Malaysia is a multi-religious society, and Islam is the country's official religion. The four main religions are Islam (55.4% of the population), Buddhism (29.2%), Christianity (6.1%, mostly in East Malaysia, i.e., Borneo), and Hinduism (4.3%), according to government census figures in 2000.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multilingual society, consisting of 65% Malays and other indigenous tribes, 25% Chinese, 7% Indians. The Malays, which form the largest community, are all Muslims since one has to be Muslim to be legally Malay under Malaysian law. The Malays play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as bumiputra. Their native language is Malay (Bahasa Melayu).

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