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Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Total population (millions): 25.2
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 64%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.7%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 329,750

Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Malay60 %
Chinese32 %
Indian8 %

Main Cities Population
Kuala Lumpur 1 297 526
Kelang 631 676
Johor Bahru 630 603
Ipoh 574 041
Petaling Jaya 438 084
Kuching 423 873

Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Kuala Lumpur (GMT+8 ).

Official language: Malay
The Chinese speak Cantonese, Hakka and Hokkien. Most of the Indians speak Tamoul. English is used as an inter-ethnic link, especially for the middle classes. Dayak uses numerous dialects.
Business language: English.

Free translation tools

Malay-English Dictionary
English-Malay free dictionary

Religious practises : Muslims 52.7%
Buddhists 16.7%
Christians 6.8%
Hinduists 6.7%
Others 17.1%.

Political context

Malaysia is a Federal state with constitutional elective monarchy. It consists of 13 states which enjoy fair amount of federal decentralization. The system of government in the country is closely modeled on that of Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule.  
The chief of state is the Paramount Ruler, commonly referred to as the King. The King is selected from the nine hereditary rulers (called Sultans) of the Malay states to serve a five-year term; the other four states (which have titular Governors) do not participate in the selection. F ollowing legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins a plurality of seats in the lower house of the parliament becomes the Prime Minister to serve a five-year term, subject to confirmation by the King. Prime Minister is the head of the government and holds the executive powers which include implementation of the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the country . Cabinet is appointed by the Prime minister from among the members of parliament with consent of the Paramount Ruler.
The legislature in Malaysia is bicameral. The parliament consists of: Senate (the upper house) having 69 seats, out of which 43 appointed by the Paramount Ruler and 26 appointed by the 13 state assembles to serve six-year terms; and House of Representatives (the lower house) having 219 seats; with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The King can dissolve parliament if he wishes but usually does so upon the advice of the Prime Minister. In general, more power is vested in the executive branch of government than in the legislative. The legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. Each state has its own government, a cabinet with executive authority, and a legislature that deals with matters not reserved for the federal parliament . The people of Malaysia have limited political rights.
Judiciary in Malaysia is not independent. There is excessive influence of the executive over the judiciary, especially in politically motivated cases. The main source of the law in Malaysia is the constitution of 1957 (amended in 1963). The country's legal system is based on English common law and the judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court. Islamic law is applied to Muslims in matters of family matters. Each state in Malaysia has its own constitution which sometimes results into variations of law from state to state. Malaysia has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The judicial language used in the country is Bahasa Malaysia; having an interpreter is possible.
On the whole, Malaysia is not yet ruled by law. Foreigners cannot be guaranteed an impartial trial from the country's judiciary. A considerable degree of corruption exists in the country, especially in politics and corporate sector. The country's police force is also plagued with corruption.

Major political parties

Malaysia is a one party dominant state with the UMNO (United Malays National Organization) being the largest political party in the country. It has ruled the country uninterruptedly since its independence from UK in 1957. UMNO is known for being a major proponent of Malay nationalism and Islamic ideology. UMNO rules the country through a coalition called BN (National Front); its other two prominent members are:
- MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) – a party of overseas Chinese who are citizens or long-term residents of Malaysia;
- MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) – representing overseas Indian community in Malaysia;
- Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

Major political leaders

Paramount Ruler: Tuanku SYED SIRAJUDDIN (since December 2001) – King of the state of Perlis in Malaysia
Prime Minister: ABDULLAH bin Ahmad Badawi (since October 2003) – UMNO, heading the BN coalition government

Next political election dates

Paramount Ruler: December 2011
House of Representatives: April 2009






Number of visitors in Malaysia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 15,703 16,431 17,547 15
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005


Tourist sites
-Cameron Highlands, where the Brinchang's marketplace, craft shops, the Buddhist Chin Swee Temple, the fruits and vegetables farms and the tea plantations must be visited.
-Fraser's Hill is a charming resort in the wild mountain, where numerous jungle paths, waterfalls, and mushroom farms can be found.
-The Genting Highlands: with its pretty artificial lake and other places of leisure. A cable-car service is available.
Islands and beaches:
-Penang, in the North of the island, at about 14 km from Georgetown.
-The island of Langkawi, relatively isolated and protected, is intended for those who try to escape in a tropical island.
-The Pangkor island, famous for its anchovies and squids.
National parks:
-Taman Negara
-Endau-Rompin's national park
-Kinabalu's national park
-Gunung Mulu's national park, but also Niah and Bako.

For more information about tourism in Malaysia , check out the following web site(s) :
Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board


Traditional dishes
Among the Malay specialties, the Satay's varieties should be listed: they are specialties of barbecued meat or poultry, which have been marinaded in a hot spicy sauce.

Food-related taboos
Culinary taboos depend on religions.

Last modified on December 2006

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