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This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


Map of Malaysia



Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Malaysia Top of Page
Background:

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 Indonesian efforts to control 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 Top of Page
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
Geographic coordinates:

2 30 N, 112 30 E
Map references:

Southeast Asia
Area:

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

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
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: 5.46%
permanent crops: 17.54%
other: 77% (2005)
Irrigated land:

3,650 sq km (2003)
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 Top of Page
Population:

24,821,286 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:

0-14 years: 32.2% (male 4,118,086/female 3,884,403)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 7,838,166/female 7,785,833)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 526,967/female 667,831) (2007 est.)
Median age:

total: 24.4 years
male: 23.8 years
female: 25 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:

1.759% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:

22.65 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:

5.05 deaths/1,000 population (2007 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 (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.007 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.789 male(s)/female
total population: 1.012 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:

total: 16.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 19.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 72.76 years
male: 70.05 years
female: 75.65 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:

3.01 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

52,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:

2,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria are high risks in some locations (2007)
Nationality:

noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian
Ethnic groups:

Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
Religions:

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)
Languages:

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
Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
male: 92%
female: 85.4% (2000 census)
   Government    Malaysia Top of Page
Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Malaysia
local long form: none
local short form: Malaysia
former: Federation of Malaya
Government type:

constitutional monarchy
note: nominally headed by paramount ruler and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a nonelected upper house and an elected lower house; all Peninsular Malaysian states have hereditary rulers 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); Sabah holds 25 seats in House of Representatives; Sarawak holds 28 seats in House of Representatives
Capital:

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
Administrative divisions:

13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri) Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, and Terengganu; and one federal territory (wilayah persekutuan) with three components, city of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya
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; Islamic law is applied to Muslims in matters of family law and religion; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:

21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:

chief of state: Paramount Ruler Sultan MIZAN Zainal Abidin (since 13 December 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister ABDULLAH bin Ahmad Badawi (since 31 October 2003); Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Razak (since 7 January 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament with consent of the paramount ruler
elections: paramount ruler elected by and from the hereditary rulers of nine of the states for five-year terms; 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 of the party that wins a plurality of seats in the House of Representatives becomes prime minister
election results: Sultan MIZAN Zainal Abidin elected paramount ruler
Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament or Parlimen consists of the Senate or Dewan Negara (70 seats; 44 appointed by the paramount ruler, 26 elected by the 13 state legislatures; to serve three-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (219 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: House of Representatives - last held on 21 March 2004 (next must be held by 2009)
election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - BN 91%, DAP 5%, PAS 3%, other 1%; seats by party - BN 199, DAP 12, PAS 6, PKR 1, independent 1
Judicial branch:

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 appointed by the paramount ruler 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
Political parties and leaders:

National Front (Barisan Nasional) or BN (ruling coalition) (consists of the following parties: Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Party or PGRM [KOH Tsu Koon - acting]; Liberal Democratic Party (Parti Liberal Demokratik - Sabah) or LDP [LIEW Vui Keong]; Malaysian Chinese Association (Persatuan China Malaysia) or MCA [ONG Ka Ting]; Malaysian Indian Congress (Kongresi 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 [Patinggi Haji Abdul TAIB Mahmud]; Parti Rakyat Sarawak or PRS [James MASING]; 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 bin 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 Progressive Democratic Party or SPDP [William MAWANI]); opposition parties: Alternative Front (Barisan Alternatif) or BA (consists of PAS and PKR); 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 Ismael]; Sarawak National Party or SNAP [Edwin DUNDANG]
Political pressure groups and leaders:

NA
International organization participation:

APEC, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN, BIS, C, CP, EAS, FAO, G-15, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MONUC, NAM, OIC, OPCW, PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador RAJMAH binti Hussain
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Christopher J. LAFLEUR
embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur 50440
mailing address: US 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 Top of Page
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. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003, notwithstanding a difficult first half, when external pressures from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community. Growth topped 7% in 2004 and 5% per year in 2005-06. As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has profited from higher world energy prices, although the rising cost of domestic gasoline and diesel fuel forced Kuala Lumpur to reduce government subsidies, contributing to higher inflation. Malaysia "unpegged" the ringgit from the US dollar in 2005 and the currency appreciated 6% against the dollar in 2006. Healthy foreign exchange reserves and a small external debt greatly reduce the risk that Malaysia will experience a financial crisis over the near term similar to the one in 1997. The economy remains dependent on continued growth in the US, China, and Japan - top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment. The government presented its five-year national development agenda in April 2006 through the Ninth Malaysia Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for the allocation of the national budget from 2006-10. The plan targets the development of higher value-added manufacturing and an expansion of the services sector.
GDP (purchasing power parity):

$313.2 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):

$132.3 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:

5.9% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):

$12,800 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 8.8%
industry: 47.1%
services: 44.1% (2006 est.)
Labor force:

10.68 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 13%
industry: 36%
services: 51% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate:

3.5% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:

5.1% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 39.2% (2003 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:

46.1 (2002)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.6% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):

20.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget:

revenues: $33.68 billion
expenditures: $38.89 billion; including capital expenditures of $9.4 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:

42.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:

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

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

5.8% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:

82.36 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:

78.72 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:

770,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:

515,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:

611,200 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:

NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:

3.1 billion bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:

60.9 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:

31.84 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:

29.06 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:

2.037 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:

$25.56 billion (2006 est.)
Exports:

$160.8 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:

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

US 18.8%, Singapore 15.4%, Japan 8.9%, China 7.2%, Thailand 5.3%, Hong Kong 4.9% (2006)
Imports:

$124 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:

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

Japan 13.3%, US 12.6%, China 12.2%, Singapore 11.7%, Thailand 5.5%, Taiwan 5.5%, South Korea 5.4%, Germany 4.4% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$82.2 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:

$50.47 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$77.7 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$34.42 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:

$235.4 billion (2006)
Currency (code):

ringgit (MYR)
Exchange rates:

ringgits per US dollar - 3.6683 (2006), 3.8 (2005), 3.8 (2004), 3.8 (2003), 3.8 (2002)
Fiscal year:

calendar year
   Communications    Malaysia Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:

4.342 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:

19,464 (2006)
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, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2001)
Radio broadcast stations:

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

88 (mainland Malaysia 51, Sabah 16, and Sarawak 21) (2006)
Internet country code:

.my
Internet hosts:

337,674 (2007)
Internet users:

11.292 million (2006)
   Transportation    Malaysia Top of Page
Airports:

116 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:

total: 36
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 6 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 80
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 72 (2007)
Heliports:

2 (2007)
Pipelines:

condensate 282 km; gas 5,372 km; oil 1,715 km; oil/gas/water 19 km; refined products 114 km (2006)
Railways:

total: 1,890 km
standard gauge: 57 km 1.435-m gauge (57 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 1,833 km 1.000-m gauge (150 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways:

total: 98,721 km
paved: 80,280 km (includes 1,821 km of expressways)
unpaved: 18,441 km (2004)
Waterways:

7,200 km
note: Peninsular Malaysia 3,200 km; Sabah 1,500 km; Sarawak 2,500 km (2005)
Merchant marine:

total: 304 ships (1000 GRT or over) 6,154,877 GRT/8,364,578 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 16, cargo 98, chemical tanker 30, container 47, liquefied gas 30, livestock carrier 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 68, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 4
foreign-owned: 43 (China 1, Germany 2, Hong Kong 14, Japan 4, Singapore 22)
registered in other countries: 67 (Bahamas 11, Kiribati 1, Marshall Islands 3, Mongolia 1, Panama 14, Philippines 2, Singapore 28, Thailand 3, US 4, unknown 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:

Bintulu, Johor Bahru, Labuan, Lahad Datu, Lumut, Miri, George Town (Penang), Port Kelang, Tanjung Pelepas
   Military    Malaysia Top of Page
Military branches:

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) (2006)
Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary military service (2005)
Manpower available for military service:

males age 18-49: 5,584,231
females age 18-49: 5,510,345 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:

males age 18-49: 4,574,854
females age 18-49: 4,613,321 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:

males age 18-49: 244,418
females age 18-49: 231,896 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

2.03% (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Malaysia Top of Page
Disputes - international:

Malaysia has asserted sovereignty over the Spratly Islands together with China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; 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 November 2007, the ICJ will hold public hearings in response to the Memorials and Countermemorials filed by the parties in 2003 and 2005 over sovereignty of Pedra Branca Island/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and 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 are still considering international adjudication over their disputed offshore and deepwater seabeds, where hydrocarbon exploration was terminated in 2003; Malaysia's land boundary with Brunei around Limbang is in dispute; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait
Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 19,153 (Indonesia), 14,208 (Burma) (2006)
Trafficking in persons:

current situation: Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation; foreign victims, mostly women and girls from Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, are trafficked to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation; economic migrants from countries in the region who work as domestic servants or laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors face exploitative conditions in Malaysia that meet the definition of involuntary servitude; some Malaysian women, primarily of Chinese ethnicity, are trafficked abroad for sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - lack of satisfactory progress in combating trafficking in 2006; the government failed to prosecute traffickers arrested and detained under existing law and failed to provide adequate shelters and services to victims of trafficking
Illicit drugs:

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

This page was last updated on 15 November, 2007


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