Malaysia is a country that consists of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia with a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population stands at over 27 million. The country is separated into two regions Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the government is headed by a Prime Minister. The government is closely modeled after the Westminster parliamentary system.
Malaysia as a unified state did not exist until 1963. Previously, a set of colonies were established by the United Kingdom from the late-18th century, and the western half of modern Malaysia was composed of several separate kingdoms. This group of colonies was known as British Malaya until its dissolution in 1946, when it was reorganized as the Malayan Union. Due to widespread opposition, it was reorganized again as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and later gained independence on 31 August 1957. Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo and the Federation of Malaya joined to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The early years of the new union were marred by an armed conflict with Indonesia and the expulsion of Singapore on 9 August 1965. The Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late-20th century.
Rapid growth during the 1980s and 1990s, averaging 8% from 1991 to 1997, has transformed Malaysia into a newly industrialised country. Because Malaysia is one of three countries that control the Strait of Malacca, international trade plays a large role in its economy. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy.
Malaysia has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is also considered one of the 18 mega diverse countries. Malays form the majority of the population of Malaysia. There are sizable Chinese and Indian communities as well. The Malay language and Islam are the official language and religion of the federation respectively. Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and participates in many international organisations such as the United Nations.
As a former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is also a member of the Developing 8 Countries. Malaysia's reputation as a benign country makes some people think that it's going to be boring. It's true, pushy touts are rare, natural disasters only seem to happen across the border and the multi-ethnic population gets along well. What to do without the hassles? Why not stroll around Penang where wafts of Chinese incense mingle with sour durian while Bollywood tunes blast from an Indian shop. Next head to the Cameron Highlands where you can visit tea plantations in the cool air; or, on the Seribuat Archipelago, off the east coast of Johor, snorkel through coral gardens and lounge on a mind-poppingly perfect beach. Put on your leech-proof boots to track elephants in Taman Negara, and how about delving into the depths of Sarawak and Sabah on mythical Borneo where you can see wild orang-utans and climb massive Mt Kinabalu.
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