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Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a federation 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 from the federation in 1965.
Geography Malaysia
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
Geographic coordinates:
2 30 N, 112 30 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
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
4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
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: 5.54%
other: 76.85% (1998 est.)
permanent crops: 17.61%
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Geography - note:
strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
People Malaysia
23,522,482 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 33.3% (male 4,033,037; female 3,806,451)
15-64 years: 62.1% (male 7,326,068; female 7,289,783)
65 years and over: 4.5% (male 469,499; female 597,644) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 23.8 years
male: 23.2 years
female: 24.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.83% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
23.37 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
5.08 deaths/1,000 population (2004 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 (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 18.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 21.23 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.95 years
male: 69.29 years
female: 74.81 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.1 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
42,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
2,500 (2001 est.)
noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian
Ethnic groups:
Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 24%, Indian 8%, others 10% (2000)
Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia
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 are Iban and Kadazan
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.9%
male: 92.4%
female: 85.4% (2003 est.)
Government Malaysia
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Malaysia
former: Federation of Malaysia
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; all of the Peninsular Malaysian states have hereditary rulers except Melaka and Penang; Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia have governors appointed by the Malaysian Government; powers of state governments are limited by the federal constitution; under the terms of federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives (e.g., the right to maintain their own immigration controls); Sabah - currently holds 20 seats in House of Representatives and will hold 25 seats after the next election; Sarawak holds 28 seats in House of Representatives
Kuala Lumpur
note: Putrajaya is referred to as the administrative capital
Administrative divisions:
13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri) and 3 federal territories* (wilayah-wilayah persekutuan, singular - wilayah persekutuan); Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Labuan*, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Putrajaya*, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Terengganu, Wilayah Persekutuan*
note: the city of Kuala Lumpur is within the federal territory of Wilayah Persekutuan; the terms therefore are not interchangeable;
31 August 1957 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day/Malaysia Day, 31 August (1957)
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
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)
head of government: Prime Minister ABDULLAH bin Ahmad Badawi (since 31 October 2003); Deputy Prime Minister NAJIB Tun Razak (since 7 January 2004)
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
election results: Tuanku SYED SIRAJUDDIN ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail elected paramount ruler
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament with consent of the paramount ruler
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 to be increased to 219 seats after the 2004 elections; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - BN 64%, PAS 16%, DAP 10%, other 10%; seats by party - BN 198, DAP 12, PAS 7, Keadilan 1, independent 1
elections: House of Representatives - last held 21 March 2004 (next must be held by 2009)
Judicial branch:
Federal Court (judges appointed by the paramount ruler on the advice of the prime minister)
Political parties and leaders:
ruling-coalition National Front (Barisan Nasional) or BN, consisting of the following parties: Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Party or PGRM [LIM Kheng Yaik]; Liberal Democratic Party (Parti Liberal Demokratik - Sabah) or LDP [CHONG Kah Kiat]; Malaysian Chinese Association (Persatuan China Malaysia) or MCA [ONG Ka Ting]; Malaysian Indian Congress (Kongresi India Malaysia) or MIC [S. Samy VELLU]; Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak or PBDS [leadership in dispute]; Parti Bersatu Sabah or PBS [Joseph PAIRIN Kitingan]; Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu or PBB [Patinggi Haji Abdul TAIB Mahmud]; Sabah Progressive Party (Parti Progresif Sabah) or SAPP [YONG Teck Lee]; Sarawak United People's Party (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sarawak) or SUPP [George CHAN Hong Nam]; United Malays National Organization or UMNO [ABDULLAH Ahmad Badawi]; United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (Pertubuhan Pasko Momogun Kadazan Dusun Bersatu) or UPKO [Bernard DOMPOK]; People's Progressive Party (Parti Progresif Penduduk Malaysia) or PPP [M.Keyveas]; Sarawak National Party or SNAP [leader NA]; Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party or SPDP [William MAWANI]; opposition parties: Democratic Action Party (Parti Tindakan Demokratik) or DAP [KERK Kim Hock]; Islamic Party of Malaysia (Parti Islam se Malaysia) or PAS [Abdul HADI Awang]; Malaysian People's Party (Parti Rakyat Malaysia) or PKM [Syed HUSIN Ali]; National Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Nasional) or Keadilan [WAN AZIZAH Wan Ismael]; opposition coalition Alternative Front (Barisan Alternatif) or BA consists of PAS, PKM, and Keadilan
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador GHAZZALI bin Sheikh Abdul Khalid
chancery: 3516 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles and New York
FAX: [1] (202) 572-9882
telephone: [1] (202) 572-9700
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: [60] (3) 2168-5000
FAX: [60] (3) 2142-2207
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 14-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 was almost exclusively driven by exports - particularly of electronics. As a result Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001 and 2002. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.5% due to an estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus package equal to US $1.9 billion mitigated the worst of the recession and the economy rebounded in 2002 with a 4.1% increase. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003, notwithstanding a difficult first half, when external pressures from SARS and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community. Healthy foreign exchange reserves and a relatively small external debt make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a crisis similar to the one in 1997, but the economy remains vulnerable to a more protracted slowdown in Japan and the US, top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment. The Malaysian ringgit is pegged to the dollar, and the Japanese central bank continues to intervene and prop up the yen against the dollar.
purchasing power parity - $207.2 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.9% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $9,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.4%
industry: 45.3%
services: 46.3% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
8% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 39.2% (2003 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
49.2 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.2% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
10.4 million (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 14.5%, industry 36%, services 49.5% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
3.4% (2003 est.)
revenues: $25.2 billion
expenditures: $28.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $9.4 billion (2004 est.)
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:
8.5% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
75.33 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 89.5%
hydro: 10.5%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
68.4 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
690,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
460,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
230,200 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
3.729 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
53.66 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
31.25 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
22.41 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
2.23 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper; timber
$98.4 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals
Exports - partners:
US 20.2%, Singapore 17.1%, Japan 11.3%, Hong Kong 5.7%, China 5.6%, Thailand 4.3% (2002)
$74.4 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
electronics, machinery, petroleum products, plastics, vehicles, iron and steel products, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Japan 17.8%, US 16.5%, Singapore 12%, China 7.7%, Taiwan 5.6%, South Korea 5.3%, Thailand 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$39.94 billion (2003 est.)
ringgit (MYR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
ringgits per US dollar - 3.8 (2003), 3.8 (2002), 3.8 (2001), 3.8 (2000), 3.8 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Malaysia
Telephones - main lines in use:
4,669,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
9,241,400 (2002)
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: country code - 60; 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)
10.9 million (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus 15 high-power repeaters) (2001)
10.8 million (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
86,285 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
7 (2000)
Internet users:
7.841 million (2002)
Transportation Malaysia
total: 2,418 km
standard gauge: 57 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 2,361 km 1.000-m gauge (150 km electrified) (2002)
total: 65,877 km
paved: 49,935 km (including 1,192 km of expressways)
unpaved: 15,942 km (1999)
7,296 km
note: Peninsular Malaysia 3,209 km, Sabah 1,569 km, Sarawak 2,518 km
condensate 279 km; gas 5,047 km; oil 1,841 km; refined products 114 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuantan, Kuching, Kudat, Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lumut, Miri, Pasir Gudang, George Town (Penang), Port Dickson, Port Kelang, Sandakan, Sibu, Tanjung Berhala, Tanjung Kidurong, Tawau
Merchant marine:
total: 360 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 5,389,397 GRT/7,539,178 DWT
foreign-owned: China 1, Germany 2, Hong Kong 8, Indonesia 2, Japan 2, South Korea 1, Liberia 1, Monaco 1, Norway 1, Philippines 2, Singapore 81, Vietnam 1
registered in other countries: 75 (2003 est.)
by type: bulk 59, cargo 100, chemical tanker 38, container 66, liquefied gas 25, livestock carrier 1, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 56, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 8
117 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 7 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 80
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 72 (2003 est.)
1 (2003 est.)
Military Malaysia
Military branches:
Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Air Force, Royal Malaysian Marine Police, Sarawak Border Scouts
Military manpower - military age:
21 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,193,587 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,746,960 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 223,466 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.69 billion (FY00 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.03% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Malaysia
Disputes - international:
involved in complex dispute with China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; disputes over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore, Singapore's land reclamation, bridge construction, maritime boundaries, and Pedra Branca Island/Pulau Batu Putih persist - parties agree to ICJ arbitration on island dispute within three years; ICJ awarded Ligitan and Sipadan islands off the coast of Sabah, also claimed by Indonesia and Philippines, to Malaysia; a 1 kilometer segment at the mouth of the Golok River remains in dispute with Thailand; Philippines retains a now dormant claim to Malaysia's Sabah State in northern Borneo based on the Sultanate of Sulu's granting the Philippines Government power of attorney to pursue the Sultanate's sovereignty claim; in 2003 Brunei and Malaysia ceased gas and oil exploration in their offshore and deepwater seabeds until negotiations progress to an agreement over allocation of disputed areas; Malaysia's land boundary with Brunei around Limbang is in dispute
Illicit drugs:
transit point for some illicit drugs; drug trafficking prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties