Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo’s East Malaysia. The head of state is an elected monarch, chosen from among the nine state sultans every five years. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which has a significant effect on its politics.
About Malaysia in brief
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo’s East Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which has a significant effect on its politics. About half the population is ethnically Malay, with minorities of Chinese, Indians, and indigenous peoples. The head of state is an elected monarch, chosen from among the nine state sultans every five years. The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. It is a founding member of ASEAN, EAS, OIC and a member of APEC, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia is in Tanjung Piai. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, home to a number of endemic species. Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire, along with the British Straits Settlements protectorate. After independence, the Malaysian GDP grew at an average of 6. 5% per annum for almost 50 years. It has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third-largest in Southeast Asia and 33rd- largest in the world.
The name ‘Melayu’ is a combination of the word ‘Malay’ and the Latin-Greek suffix ‘-sia’ which can be translated as ‘land of the Malays’ It is only thought to have come from an ethnonym, Srivijijaya, associated with various parts of Sumatra, especially Palembang, where the founder of the Sultanate of Malacca is believed to have lived. At some point, the Melayu Kingdom took its name from the Sungai MelayU, a river from which a river was named due to its strong current. A final suggestion is that it comes from a Javanese word meaning ‘to run’ which was used by certain scholars as the modern Malay peninsula was identified by the 2nd century Ptolemy’s Geographia that used the name Malayu for the west of the Golden Chersonese coast of the west coast of Kulon. In 1965, Singapore was expelled from the Malayan Union, which became Malaysia on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia on 31 August 1957. The national language is Malaysian, a standard form of Malay language. English remains an active second language. While recognising Islam as the country’s established religion, the constitution grants freedom of religion to non-Muslims. The government is modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. Malaysia is the world’s 43rd-most populous country, with a population of over 32 million.