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Malaysia Overview

Malaysia is located in south-east Asia bordering the South China Sea between Vietnam and Indonesia. It occupies a total area of 329,750 sq km of which 328,550 sq km is on land. The country has 2,669 km of land boundaries and 4,675 km of coastline. A map of Malaysia is available.

Malaysia has a total population of 18,845,340 (July 1993 est.). Nationals of Malaysia are known as Malaysian(s). The population is made up mostly of Malay (59%) and Chinese (32%). The main religions are Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. Malay is the official language; English, Chinese dialects and Tamil are also spoken.

Malaysia's history has been one of continual interaction with foreign powers and influences because of its strategic position between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Its location has made it the meeting place for both traders and travelers alike. Hindu-Buddhist influence was strong in the northwest before the coming of Islam. Archaeological findings in Kedah provide evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist civilization that dated back to 300AD. It flourished as an important center of trade and commerce until the 13th Century when Malacca, abundant in spices, attracted colonial powers.

Malaysia is a country of contrasts, bathed in the warm tropical sun, endowed with 3,000 kilometers of coastline, several historic cities, a unique cultural mix, a string of cool hill resorts, the world’s oldest rainforest—and even Southeast Asia’s highest mountain.

 
 
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