Malaysia has superb golden beaches, lush vegetation, mountains and fabulous shopping allied to some magnificent hotels. This has made the country the fastest growing destination in South East Asia. The mix of the ancient and the ultra-modern make Malaysia a fascinating place to visit, while the low cost of living and huge visitor choice makes it the ideal holiday location.
Lying just north of the equator the country is south of Cambodia and Vietnam and north of Singapore and Indonesia. More than one thousand islands are part of Malaysia with some 38 designated as marine parks. Parts of the primeval rainforest are more than 100 million years old with a dazzling selection of birds and wildlife.
Malaysia has a tropical climate throughout the year, enjoying warm days and mild evenings in all seasons. English is very widely spoken although the national language is Malay.
The country offers a fascinating cultural mix with colourful festivals, unique arts and crafts, architecture, food and a rich array of dance forms.
History of Malaysia
The area of Malaysia has been populated for almost fifty thousand years. For hundreds of years the area was divided into a series of small kingdoms and chiefdoms.
The kingdom of Malacca was formed by a Sumatran prince who converted to Islam. Malacca then became a centre for the spread of the Muslim faith and prospered and was conquered by the Portuguese before falling to the Dutch, who became the leading European trading power in the region.
The British in Malaysia
The British became active in the area in the 18th century, partly for trading reasons, but also to check French power, and then grew in influence up to the Second World War. After the war ethnic rivalries complicated the emerging independence movement.
The Alliance, the dominant political party that emerged in the 1950s, won an overwhelming victory in the first nationwide elections in 1955. In 1957 the Federation of Malaya gained independence from Britain and joined the United Nations. Since independence, ethnic disputes have dominated Malaysian politics.
Many years were then occupied by struggles against communism and separatism until a Malaysian federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo was formed in the early sixties.
The British influence on Malaysia was profound with effects still seen today. The UK was responsible for the creation of the plantation system and commercialisation of agriculture, the framework for the present-day transportation system, the introduction of English and an educational system, multiracialism and modern political institutions.
The people of Malaysia
A population in excess of twenty two million displays a wide variety of races and religions, but Malaysia is often seen as an example of how true harmony can be achieved.
At present Malay and other indigenous groups provide half the population, while the Chinese are a further quarter. The largest other single group is Indian with under ten percent of the total.
Several other groups comprise the rest of the people with various religions being practised - Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, and Sikh.
Such a diversity of ethnic groups inevitably features a large number of spoken languages. The official local language is Bahasa Melayu, but then English is widely spoken as are a number of Chinese dialects. Various other languages are spoken and East Malaysia features several other indigenous languages.
With such obvious diversity it is remarkable that racial tension is not a constant problem but clearly the gentleness and tolerance of the local population contributes to a real spirit of peace and harmony.
The people of Malaysia love festivals and particular pleasure is reserved for religious holidays. Secular holidays are equally enjoyed and visitors have much choice with a variety of festivals and holidays throughout the year.
>>Calender of Events<<
The Malaysian Government is committed to visitor safety and following the tragic events in Indonesia (Bali) the government has put in place extensive measures to combat terrorism.
Malaysia is considered a safe destination, the UK Foreign Office recently stated - 'we are not aware of any current, specific threat to British nationals and interests in Malaysia'.
Malaysia prides itself on having a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically and politically stable, just and equitable.