Malaysia emerged strongly from the global recession of 2008, with GDP growing at 5.1% in 2011. Forceful counter cyclical policies, sound balance sheets and intra-regional trade, have assisted recovery. The country’s near term prospects are very favourable with both external and private domestic demand, propelling economic activity.
Malaysia consists of two regions separated by 1,030 kilometres of the South China Sea. West Malaysia in the southern third of the Malay Peninsula and East Malaysia which occupies the northern quarter of the island of Borneo, with it’s Provinces of Sarawak and Sabah. West Malaysia is bound by Thailand to the north, the South China Sea to the east, Singapore to the south and the Strait of Malacca to the west.
East Malaysia is bound by Indonesia to the south, the South China Sea to the west and north and the Sulu Sea to the northeast. West Malaysia consists of a range of steep forest covered mountains, with coastal plains to the east and west and the principal river is the Pahang. East Malaysia has a broad swampy coastal plain, which rises to jungle covered hills in the interior.
As well as its status as a leading business destination, Malaysia offers beautiful scenery and a huge variety of tourist attractions, from beaches to dense rainforests. Leading destinations include the Pulau Payar Marine Park at Langkawi, the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Sipadan Island in Sabah and Penang’s Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Malaysia is a multi-cultural society. The main cultural groups are the native Malays, together with groups of Chinese and Indian ethnicity. Individual lifestyles are maintained. Families tend to socialise within their own ethnic groups but the desire to conform socially, makes Malaysians strive for harmonious relationships in every aspect of their lives. Malaysia is a founding member of ASEAN.
Joined ASEAN: 8 August 1967 (Founder Member)
Head of State: Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah
Area: 329,847 square kilometres
Border countries: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Thailand
Coastline: 4,675 kilometres
Capital city: Kuala Lumpur
Total population: 29,179,952
Population of capital: 1,493,000
Climate: Tropical. Southwest monsoons April to October, northeast monsoons October to February
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
Religions: Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism and other Chinese religions 2.6%, other 1.5%
Ethnic groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, other 7.8%