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Malaysia Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Kuala Lumpur (pop. 1.3 million)

Other Cities: Penang, Ipoh, Malacca, Johor Baru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Alor Setar, Shah Alam.

Local Time: UTC +8h

Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam.
Area: 329,749 sq. km. (127,316 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Coastal plains and interior, jungle-covered mountains. The South China Sea separates peninsular Malaysia from East Malaysia on Borneo (400 mi.).
Border countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand

Climate: Tropical, annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons.

Type: Federal parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch.
Independence: 31. August 1957. (Malaya, which is now peninsular Malaysia, became independent in 1957. In 1963 Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore formed Malaysia. Singapore became an independent country in 1965.). Constitution: 31 August 1957, amended 16 September 1963.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Malaysian(s).
Population (2004): 25.5 million.
Ethnic groups: Malay 50.3%, Chinese 23.8%, Indigenous 11.0%, Indian 7.1%, non-Malaysian citizens 6.6 %, others 1.2%.
Religions: Islam (60.4%), Buddhism (19.2%), Christianity (9.1%), Hinduism (6.3%),Confucianism (2.6%), Animism (0.8%), others (including Taoism, Sikhism, Baha'i faith -- 0.4%), none (0.8%).
Languages: Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin Chinese, English, Tamil, indigenous.
Literacy: 94%.


Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

Natural resources: Tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite.

Agriculture products:
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper; timber.

Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging and processing timber.
Sabah - logging, petroleum production.
Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging.

Exports partners:
USA 19.6%, Singapore 15.7%, Japan 10.7%, China 6.5%, Hong Kong 6.5%, Thailand 4.4% (2003)

Imports partners: Japan 17.3%, USA 15.5%, Singapore 11.9%, China 8.8%, South Korea 5.5%, Taiwan 5%, Germany 4.7%, Thailand 4.6% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Malaysia

Prime Minister's Office

Parlimen Malaysia

Malaysian Civil Service Link

Kementerian Luar Negeri

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations

Malaysian Embassy London UK

Malaysia's Missions Worldwide

Foreign Missions in Malaysia

Malaysian States

Kedah State Government



Negeri Sembilan








Map of Malaysia



Background:  Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a merging of the former
British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian
states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. The first
several years of the country's history were marred by Indonesian efforts
to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's secession
in 1965.

Geography Malaysia

Location:  Southeastern Asia, peninsula and northern one-third of the
island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and the South China Sea, south
of Vietnam

Geographic coordinates:  2 30 N, 112 30 E

Map references:  Southeast Asia

Area:  total: 329,750 sq km water: 1,200 sq km land: 328,550 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than New Mexico

Land boundaries:  total: 2,669 km border countries: Brunei 381 km,
Indonesia 1,782 km, Thailand 506 km

Coastline:  4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia
2,607 km)

Maritime claims:  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of
exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea exclusive
economic zone: Climate:  tropical; annual southwest (April to October)
and northeast (October to February) monsoons

Terrain:  coastal plains rising to hills and mountains

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m highest point:
Gunung Kinabalu 4,100 m

Natural resources:  tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural
gas, bauxite

Land use:  arable land: 5% permanent crops: 18% other: 77% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  3,650 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  flooding, landslides, forest fires

Environment - current issues:  air pollution from industrial and vehicular
emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze
from Indonesian forest fires

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the
Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection,
Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed,
but not ratified: Geography - note:  strategic location along Strait of
Malacca and southern South China Sea

People Malaysia

Population:  22,662,365 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 34.1% (male 3,974,532; female 3,753,407)
15-64 years: 61.6% (male 6,995,451; female 6,969,435) 65 years and over:
4.3% (male 424,776; female 544,764) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  1.91% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  24.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  5.16 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population note: does not reflect
net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries
in the region (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.78
male(s)/female total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  19.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   74.21 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  3.18 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.42% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  49,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  1,900 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Malaysian(s) adjective: Malaysian

Ethnic groups:  Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 24%, Indian 8%,
others 10% (2000)

Religions:  Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh; note -
in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia

Languages:  Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese dialects
(Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu,
Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - in addition, in East Malaysia several
indigenous languages are spoken, the largest of which are Iban and Kadazan

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 83.5% male: 89.1% female: 78.1% (1995 est.)

Government Malaysia

Country name:   Malaysia former: Government type:  constitutional monarchy
note: Malaya (what is now Peninsular Malaysia) formed 31 August 1957;
Federation of Malaysia (Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore) formed
9 July 1963 (Singapore left the federation on 9 August 1965); nominally
headed by the paramount ruler and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a
nonelected upper house and an elected lower house; Peninsular Malaysian
states - hereditary rulers in all but Melaka, Penang, Sabah, and Sarawak,
where governors are appointed by the Malaysian Government; powers of state
governments are limited by the federal constitution; under terms of the
federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives
(e.g., the right to maintain their own immigration controls); Sabah -
holds 20 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign affairs, defense,
internal security, and other powers delegated to federal government;
Sarawak - holds 28 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign
affairs, defense, internal security, and other powers delegated to
federal government

Capital:  Kuala Lumpur

Administrative divisions:  13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri)
and 2 federal territories* (wilayah-wilayah persekutuan, singular -
wilayah persekutuan); Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Labuan*, Melaka, Negeri
Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor,
Terengganu, Wilayah Persekutuan* note: the city of Kuala Lumpur is located
within the federal territory of Wilayah Persekutuan; the terms therefore
are not interchangeable; there is a new federal territory named Putrajaya,
but this change has not yet been approved by the US Board on Geographic
Names (BGN)

Independence:  31 August 1957 (from UK)

National holiday:  Independence Day/Malaysia Day, 31 August (1957)

Constitution:  31 August 1957, amended 16 September 1963

Legal system:  based on English common law; judicial review of legislative
acts in the Supreme Court at request of supreme head of the federation;
has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage:  21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: Paramount Ruler Tuanku SYED SIRAJUDDIN
ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Raja of Perlis (since
12 December 2001); replaced Paramount Ruler Sultan TUNKU SALAHUDDIN Abdul
Aziz Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Hissammuddin Alam Shah who died in office
21 November 2001 head of government: Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad
(since 16 July 1981); Deputy Prime Minister ABDULLAH bin Ahmad Badawi
(since 8 January 1999) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
from among the members of Parliament with consent of the paramount
ruler election results: Tuanku SYED SIRAJUDDIN ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed
Putra Jamalullail elected paramount ruler following the death of TUNKU
SALAHUDDIN Abdul Aziz Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Hisammuddin Alam Shah
elections: paramount ruler elected by and from the hereditary rulers of
nine of the states for five-year terms; election last held 12 December
2001 (next to be held NA 2006); prime minister designated from among the
members of the House of Representatives; following legislative elections,
the leader of the party that wins a plurality of seats in the House of
Representatives becomes prime minister

Legislative branch:  bicameral Parliament or Parlimen consists of the
Senate or Dewan Negara (69 seats; 43 appointed by the paramount ruler, 26
appointed by the state legislatures) and the House of Representatives or
Dewan Rakyat (193 seats; members elected by popular vote weighted toward
the rural Malay population to serve five-year terms) election results:
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NF 56%, other 44%;
seats by party - NF 148, PAS 27, DAP 10, NJP 5, PBS 3 elections: House
of Representatives - last held 29 November 1999 (next must be held by
20 December 2004)

Judicial branch:  Federal Court (judges appointed by the paramount ruler
on the advice of the prime minister)

Political parties and leaders:  Alternative Coalition or Barisan
Alternatif-BA (includes the following parties: Party Islam Se-Malaysia
or PAS [FADZIL Mohamad Noor], National Justice Party or NJP [WAN AZIZAH
Wan Ismail], and Malaysian People's Party or PRM [SYED HUSIN]); National
Front or NF (ruling coalition dominated by the United Malays National
Organization or UMNO [MAHATHIR bin Mohamad], includes the following
parties: Malaysian Indian Congress or MIC [S. Samy VELLU], Malaysian
Chinese Association or MCA [LING Liong Sik], Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia or
Gerakan [LIM Keng Yaik], Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu or PBB [Patinggi
Haji Abdul TAIB Mahmud], Parti Angkatan Keadilan Rakyat Bersatu or Akar
[PANDIKAR Amin Mulia], Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak or PBDS [Leo MOGGIE],
Parti Bersatu Sabah or PBS [Joseph PAIRIN Kitingan], Sabah United People's
Party or SUPP [Jeffrey KITINGAN], Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [CHONG
Kah Kiat], Sabah Progressive Party or SAPP [YONG Teck Lee], People's
Progressive Party or PPP [M. KAYVEAS], Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah or
PBRS [Joseph KURUP], Sarawak National Party or SNAP [Amar James WONG],
Parti Demokratik Sabah or PDS [leader NA], and United Pasok Momogun
Kadazan Organization or UPKO (state level only) [Bernard DOMPOK]);
Parti Bersekutu [HARRIS Salleh]; State Reform Party of Sarawak or STAR
[PATAU Rubis]; Democratic Action Party or DAP [LIM Kit Siang]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, BIS, C,

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador GHAZZALI bin Sheikh
Abdul Khalid chancery:  Los Angeles and New York FAX: [1] (202) 483-7661
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2700

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Marie T. HUHTALA embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
mailing address: P. O. Box No. 10035, 50700 Kuala Lumpur; American
Embassy Kuala Lumpur, APO AP 96535-8152 telephone: Flag description:
14 equal horizontal stripes of red (top) alternating with white (bottom);
there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a yellow
crescent and a yellow fourteen-pointed star; the crescent and the star are
traditional symbols of Islam; the design was based on the flag of the US

Economy Malaysia

Economy - overview:  Malaysia, a middle income country, transformed itself
from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into
an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth is almost exclusively driven
by exports - particularly of electronics - and, as a result Malaysia was
hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the Information
Technology (IT) sector in 2001. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.3% due to an
estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus
package has mitigated the worst of the recession and the economy is
expected to grow by 2% to 3% in 2002 as the world economy rebounds. Kuala
Lumpur's healthy foreign exchange reserves and relatively small external
debt make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a crisis similar
to the crisis of 1997, but the economy remains vulnerable to a more
protracted downturn in the US and Japan, top export destinations and
key sources of foreign investment.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $200 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  0.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $9,000 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 12% industry: 40% services:
48% (2001)

Population below poverty line:  8% (1998 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 38.4% (1997 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  49.2 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  1.5% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  9.9 million (2001 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  local trade and tourism 28%, manufacturing
27%, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries 16%, services 10%, government
10%, construction 9% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate:  3.7% (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $20.3 billion expenditures: $27.2 billion, including
capital expenditures of $9.4 billion (2001 est.)

Industries:  Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and
manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining
and smelting, logging and processing timber; Sabah - logging, petroleum
production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and
refining, logging

Industrial production growth rate:  -4% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  63.069 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 87.96% hydro: 12.04%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  58.59 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  75 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  11 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa,
rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak -
rubber, pepper; timber

Exports:  $94.4 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied
natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals

Exports - partners:  US 20%, Singapore 17%, Japan 14%, Hong Kong 4.5%,
Netherlands 4.5%, China 4%, Thailand 4% (2001 est.)

Imports:  $76.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  electronics, machinery, petroleum products,
plastics, vehicles, iron and steel and iron and steel products, chemicals

Imports - partners:  Japan 20%, US 17%, Singapore 13%, Taiwan 5%, China
4%, Germany 4%, Thailand 4% (2001 est.)

Debt - external:  $44.7 billion (2001 est.)

Currency:  ringgit (MYR)

Currency code:  MYR

Exchange rates:  ringgits per US dollar - 3.8000 (January 2002), 3.8000
(2001), 3.8000 (2000), 3.8000 (1999), 3.9244 (1998), 2.8133 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Malaysia

Telephones - main lines in use:  4.6 million (2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  5 million (2000)

Telephone system:  general assessment: modern system; international
service excellent domestic: good intercity service provided on Peninsular
Malaysia mainly by microwave radio relay; adequate intercity microwave
radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; domestic
satellite system with 2 earth stations international: submarine cables
to India, Hong Kong, and Singapore; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat
(1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean) (2001)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 35, FM 391, shortwave 15 (2001)

Radios:  10.9 million (1999)

Television broadcast stations:  1 (plus 15 high-power repeaters) (2001)

Televisions:  10.8 million (1999)

Internet country code:  .my

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  7 (2000)

Internet users:  4.1 million (2001)

Transportation Malaysia

Railways:  total: 1,801 km narrow gauge: 1,801 km 1.000-m gauge (148 km
electrified) (2001)

Highways:  total: 64,672 km paved: 48,707 km (including 1,192 km of
expressways) note: in addition to these national and main regional roads,
Malaysia has thousands of kilometers of local roads that are maintained
by local jurisdictions (1999) unpaved: 15,965 km

Waterways:  7,296 km note: Peninsular Malaysia 3,209 km, Sabah 1,569 km,
Sarawak 2,518 km

Pipelines:  crude oil 1,307 km; natural gas 379 km

Ports and harbors:  Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuantan, Kuching, Kudat,
Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lumut, Miri, Pasir Gudang, Penang, Port Dickson,
Port Kelang, Sandakan, Sibu, Tanjung Berhala, Tanjung Kidurong, Tawau

Merchant marine:  total: 363 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,952,119
GRT/7,229,299 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered
here as a flag of convenience: Australia 1, China 1, Germany 2, Hong
Kong 15, Indonesia 3, Japan 4, Monaco 1, Philippines 2, Singapore 78,
South Korea 2, Vietnam 1 (2002 est.)  ships by type: bulk 57, cargo 114,
chemical tanker 35, container 62, liquefied gas 20, livestock carrier 1,
passenger 2, petroleum tanker 60, roll on/roll off 5, specialized tanker
1, vehicle carrier 6

Airports:  116 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 34 over 3,047 m: 5 2,438 to 3,047
m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 6 under 914 m: 7 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 11

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 82 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to
1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 73 (2001)

Heliports:  1 (2001)

Military Malaysia

Military branches:  Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian
Air Force, Royal Malaysian Police Field Force, Marine Police, Sarawak
Border Scouts

Military manpower - military age:  21 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 5,933,296 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 3,592,997
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 196,042
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $1.69 billion (FY00 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  2.03% (FY00)

Transnational Issues Malaysia

Disputes - international:  Malaysia involved in a complex dispute over the
Spratly Islands with China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly
Brunei; Malaysia and Singapore are considering taking the dispute over
Pulau Batu Putih (Pedra Branca Island) to ICJ; Malaysia concerned over
Singapore's land reclamation works on Johor, which affect the maritime
boundary, shipping lanes, and water ecology in the Tebrau Reach; since
1998, ICJ has been considering Malaysia's longstanding Sipadan and Ligitan
islands dispute with Indonesia; ICJ rejected the Philippines' application
to intervene in this case in October 2001; Sultanate of Sulu granted
the Philippine Government power of attorney to pursue his sovereignty
claim over Malaysia's state of Sabah, over which the Philippines have
not fully revoked their claim; a one km stretch of Malaysia-Thailand
territory at the mouth of the Kolok river remains in dispute, despite
overall success in boundary redemarcation

Illicit drugs:  transit point for some illicit drugs; drug trafficking
prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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