Introduction ::Malaysia
During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation. The first several years of the country's history were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's secession from the Federation in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials to expansion in manufacturing, services, and tourism.
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
2 30 N, 112 30 E
total: 329,847 sq km
country comparison to the world: 66
land: 328,657 sq km
water: 1,190 sq km
slightly larger than New Mexico
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)
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
Current Weather
tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
coastal plains rising to hills and mountains
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunung Kinabalu 4,100 m
tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
arable land: 5.46%
permanent crops: 17.54%
other: 77% (2005)
3,650 sq km (2003)
580 cu km (1999)
total: 9.02 cu km/yr (17%/21%/62%)
per capita: 356 cu m/yr (2000)
flooding; landslides; forest fires
air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze from Indonesian forest fires
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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
People ::Malaysia
25,715,819 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
0-14 years: 31.4% (male 4,153,621/female 3,914,962)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 8,210,373/female 8,143,043)
65 years and over: 5% (male 569,245/female 724,575) (2010 est.)
total: 26.5 years
male: 26.4 years
female: 26.7 years (2010 est.)
1.723% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
22.24 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
5.02 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
note: does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region (2009 est.)
urban population: 70% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.069 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 (2010 est.)
total: 15.87 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 124
male: 18.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
total population: 73.29 years
country comparison to the world: 111
male: 70.56 years
female: 76.21 years (2010 est.)
2.92 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
0.5% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
80,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
3,900 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian
Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
male: 92%
female: 85.4% (2000 census)
total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2005)
6.2% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 37
Government ::Malaysia
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Malaysia
local long form: none
local short form: Malaysia
former: Federation of Malaya
constitutional monarchy
note: nominally headed by paramount ruler (commonly referred to as the King) and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a nonelected upper house and an elected lower house; all Peninsular Malaysian states have hereditary rulers (commonly referred to as sultans) except Melaka and Pulau Pinang (Penang); those two states along with Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia have governors appointed by government; powers of state governments are limited by federal constitution; under terms of federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives (e.g., right to maintain their own immigration controls)
name: Kuala Lumpur
geographic coordinates: 3 10 N, 101 42 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Putrajaya is referred to as administrative center not capital; Parliament meets in Kuala Lumpur
13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri) Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, and Terengganu; and 1 federal territory (Wilayah Persekutuan) with three components, city of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya
31 August 1957 (from the UK)
Independence Day/Malaysia Day, 31 August (1957)
31 August 1957; amended many times the latest in 2007
based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court at request of supreme head of the federation; Islamic law is applied to Muslims in matters of family law and religion; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
21 years of age; universal
chief of state: King - Sultan MIZAN Zainal Abidin (since 13 December 2006); (the position of the king is primarily ceremonial)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Razak (since 3 April 2009); Deputy Prime Minister MUHYIDDIN bin Mohamed Yassin (since 9 April 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament with consent of the king
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elections: kings elected by and from the hereditary rulers of nine of the states for five-year terms; selection based on principle of rotation among rulers of states; election last held on 3 November 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister designated from among the members of the House of Representatives; following legislative elections, the leader who commands the support of the majority of members in the House becomes prime minister (since independence this has been the leader of the UMNO party)
election results: Sultan MIZAN Zainal Abidin elected king
bicameral Parliament or Parlimen consists of Senate or Dewan Negara (70 seats; 44 members appointed by the king, 26 elected by 13 state legislatures to serve three-year terms with a two term limit) and House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (222 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve up to five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 8 March 2008 (next to be held by June 2013)
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote - BN coalition 50.3%, opposition parties 46.8%, others 2.9%; seats - BN coalition 140, opposition parties 82
civil courts include Federal Court, Court of Appeal, High Court of Malaya on peninsula Malaysia, and High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in states of Borneo (judges are appointed by the king on the advice of the prime minister); sharia courts include Sharia Appeal Court, Sharia High Court, and Sharia Subordinate Courts at state-level and deal with religious and family matters such as custody, divorce, and inheritance only for Muslims; decisions of sharia courts cannot be appealed to civil courts
National Front (Barisan Nasional) or BN (ruling coalition) consists of the following parties: Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Party or PGRM [KOH Tsu Koon]; Liberal Democratic Party (Parti Liberal Demokratik - Sabah) or LDP [LIEW Vui Keong]; Malaysian Chinese Association (Persatuan China Malaysia) or MCA [CHUA Soi Lek]; Malaysian Indian Congress (Kongres India Malaysia) or MIC [S. Samy VELLU]; Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah or PBRS [Joseph KURUP]; Parti Bersatu Sabah or PBS [Joseph PAIRIN Kitingan]; Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu or PBB [Abdul TAIB Mahmud]; Parti Rakyat Sarawak or PRS [James MASING]; Sarawak United People's Party (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sarawak) or SUPP [George CHAN Hong Nam]; United Malays National Organization or UMNO [NAJIB bin Abdul Razak]; 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.Kayveas]; Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party or SPDP [William MAWAN])
People's Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) or PR (opposition coalition) consists of the following parties: Democratic Action Party (Parti Tindakan Demokratik) or DAP [KARPAL Singh]; Islamic Party of Malaysia (Parti Islam se Malaysia) or PAS [Abdul HADI Awang]; People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) or PKR [WAN AZIZAH Wan Ismail]; Sarawak National Party or SNAP [Edwin DUNDANG]
independent party: Sabah Progressive Party (Parti Progresif Saban) or SAPP [YONG Teck Lee]
Bar Council BERSIH (electoral reform coalition); PEMBELA (Muslim NGO coalition)
other: religious groups; women's groups; youth groups
chief of mission: Ambassador JAMALUDDIN Jarjis
chancery: 3516 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 572-9700
FAX: [1] (202) 572-9882
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Robert G. RAPSON
embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
mailing address: US Embassy Kuala Lumpur, APO AP 96535-8152
telephone: [60] (3) 2168-5000
FAX: [60] (3) 2142-2207
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 flag is often referred to as Jalur Gemilang (Stripes of Glory); the 14 stripes stand for the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government; the 14 points on the star represent the unity between these entities; the crescent is a traditional symbol of Islam; blue symbolizes the unity of the Malay people and yellow is the royal color of Malay rulers
note: the design is based on the flag of the US
Economy ::Malaysia
Malaysia, a middle-income country, has transformed itself since the 1970s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. After coming to office in 2003, former Prime Minister ABDULLAH tried to move the economy farther up the value-added production chain by attracting investments in high technology industries, medical technology, and pharmaceuticals, an effort that continues under current Prime Minister NAJIB. The NAJIB administration also is continuing efforts to boost domestic demand and to wean the economy off of its dependence on exports. Nevertheless, exports - particularly of electronics - remain a significant driver of the economy. As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has profited from higher world energy prices, although the rising cost of domestic gasoline and diesel fuel, combined with strained government finances, has forced Kuala Lumpur to reduce government subsidies. The government is also trying to lessen its dependence on state oil producer Petronas, which supplies 40% of government revenue. The central bank maintains healthy foreign exchange reserves and its well-developed regulatory regime has limited Malaysia's exposure to riskier financial instruments and the global financial crisis. Nevertheless, decreasing worldwide demand for consumer goods hurt Malaysia's exports and economic growth in 2009, although both began showing signs of recovery late in the year. In June 2010 NAJIB will introduce the Tenth Malaysia Plan, outlining new reforms. NAJIB already has introduced several reforms in the services sector in a bid to attract direct foreign investment, which has stagnated in recent years.
$383.6 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$390.2 billion (2008 est.)
$372.7 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
$191.5 billion (2009 est.)
-1.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
4.7% (2008 est.)
6.5% (2007 est.)
$14,900 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
$15,400 (2008 est.)
$15,000 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
agriculture: 9.4%
industry: 40.9%
services: 49.7% (2009 est.)
11.38 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
agriculture: 13%
industry: 36%
services: 51% (2005 est.)
3.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
3.3% (2008 est.)
5.1% (2002 est.)
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 28.5% (2005 est.)
46.1 (2002)
country comparison to the world: 36
49.2 (1997)
20.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
revenues: $45.01 billion
expenditures: $58.46 billion (2009 est.)
53.7% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
41.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
0.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
5.4% (2008 est.)
note: approximately 30% of goods are price-controlled
6.08% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 133
6.41% (31 December 2007)
$51.51 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 26
$49.41 billion (31 December 2007)
$200.9 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 17
$187.6 billion (31 December 2007)
$246.7 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 29
$220 billion (31 December 2007)
$263.4 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 26
$187.1 billion (31 December 2008)
$325.7 billion (31 December 2007)
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, coconuts, rice; rubber, timber; Sarawak - rubber, timber; pepper
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging
-7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
103.2 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
99.25 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
2.268 billion kWh (2007 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
693,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
536,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
511,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
314,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
4 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
57.3 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
26.27 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
31.03 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
2.35 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$30.46 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
$38.91 billion (2008 est.)
$157.6 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
$199.7 billion (2008 est.)
electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals
Singapore 14.94%, US 12.4%, China 10.19%, Japan 9.13%, Thailand 4.93%, Hong Kong 4.75% (2009)
$119.3 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$148.5 billion (2008 est.)
electronics, machinery, petroleum products, plastics, vehicles, iron and steel products, chemicals
Singapore 20.16%, China 12.31%, Japan 11.02%, US 9.41%, Thailand 6.15%, South Korea 4.21% (2009)
$95.5 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
$91.21 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$48.26 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$75.33 billion (31 December 2008)
$88.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$84.12 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$79.96 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$73.38 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
ringgits (MYR) per US dollar - 3.55 (2009), 3.33 (2008), 3.46 (2007), 3.6683 (2006), 3.8 (2005)
Communications ::Malaysia
4.292 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 36
27.125 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 31
general assessment: modern system featuring good intercity service on Peninsular Malaysia provided mainly by microwave radio relay and an adequate intercity microwave radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; international service excellent
domestic: domestic satellite system with 2 earth stations; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity 125 per 100 persons
international: country code - 60; landing point for several major international submarine cable networks that provide connectivity to Asia, Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2008)
state-owned television broadcaster operates 2 TV networks with relays throughout the country, and the leading private commercial media group operates 4 TV stations with numerous relays throughout the country; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio broadcaster operates multiple national networks as well as regional and local stations; large number of private commercial radio broadcasters and some subscription satellite radio services are available; about 400 radio stations overall (2008)
344,452 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 56
16.903 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 22
Transportation ::Malaysia
118 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 51
total: 38
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 7 (2010)
total: 80
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 73 (2010)
3 (2010)
condensate 3 km; gas 1,965 km; oil 31 km; refined products 114 km (2009)
total: 1,849 km
country comparison to the world: 75
standard gauge: 57 km 1.435-m gauge (57 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,792 km 1.000-m gauge (150 km electrified) (2008)
total: 98,721 km
country comparison to the world: 44
paved: 80,280 km (includes 1,821 km of expressways)
unpaved: 18,441 km (2004)
7,200 km
country comparison to the world: 20
note: Peninsular Malaysia 3,200 km; Sabah 1,500 km; Sarawak 2,500 km (2008)
total: 306
country comparison to the world: 30
by type: bulk carrier 12, cargo 97, carrier 1, chemical tanker 34, container 46, liquefied gas 33, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 71, roll on/roll off 3, vehicle carrier 4
foreign-owned: 40 (Germany 1, Hong Kong 14, Japan 4, Russia 2, Singapore 16, Sweden 3)
registered in other countries: 68 (Bahamas 13, Marshall Islands 3, Norway 1, Panama 12, Philippines 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Singapore 27, Thailand 3, Tuvalu 1, US 2, unknown 4) (2008)
Bintulu, Johor Bahru, Kuantan, Labuan, George Town (Penang), Port Kelang (Port Klang), Tanjung Pelepas
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; increased naval patrols in 2009 resulted in significantly reduced numbers of incidents
Military ::Malaysia
Malaysian Armed Forces (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, ATM): Malaysian Army (Tentera Darat Malaysia), Royal Malaysian Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, TLDM), Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM) (2010)
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2005)
males age 16-49: 6,692,438
females age 16-49: 6,494,413 (2010 est.)
males age 16-49: 5,612,642
females age 16-49: 5,501,129 (2010 est.)
male: 267,646
female: 253,529 (2010 est.)
2.03% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
Transnational Issues ::Malaysia
Malaysia is involved in a complex dispute with Brunei, China, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam over claims to part or all of the Spratly Islands; while the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions over the Spratly Islands, it is not the legally binding "code of conduct" sought by some parties; Malaysia was not party to the March 2005 joint accord among the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam on conducting marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands; disputes continue over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore, Singapore's land reclamation, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits; in 2008, ICJ awards sovereignty of Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh/Horsburgh Island) to Singapore, and Middle Rocks to Malaysia, but does not rule on maritime regimes, boundaries, or disposition of South Ledge; ICJ awarded Ligitan and Sipadan islands, also claimed by Indonesia and Philippines, to Malaysia but left maritime boundary and sovereignty of Unarang rock in the hydrocarbon-rich Celebes Sea in dispute; separatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Muslim southern provinces prompts measures to close and monitor border with Malaysia to stem terrorist activities; Philippines retains a dormant claim to Malaysia's Sabah State in northern Borneo; Brunei and Malaysia agreed in September 2008 to resolve their offshore and deepwater seabed dispute, resume hydrocarbon exploration, and renounce any territorial claims along their land boundary; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait
refugees (country of origin): 15,174 (Indonesia); 21,544 (Burma) (2007)
current situation: Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and men, women, and children for forced labor; Malaysia is mainly a destination country for men, women, and children who migrate willingly from South and Southeast Asia to work, some of whom are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude by Malaysian employers in the domestic, agricultural, construction, plantation, and industrial sectors; to a lesser extent, some Malaysian women, primarily of Chinese ethnicity, are trafficked abroad for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - the Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, despite some progress in enforcing the 2007 comprehensive anti-trafficking law; it has yet to fully address labor trafficking in Malaysia; there are credible allegations of involvement of Malaysian immigration officials in trafficking and extorting Burmese refugees; the government did not develop mechanisms to effectively screen victims of trafficking in vulnerable groups and condones the confiscation of passports of migrant workers by employers (2009)
drug trafficking prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties; heroin still primary drug of abuse, but synthetic drug demand remains strong; continued ecstasy and methamphetamine producer for domestic users and, to a lesser extent, the regional drug market