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Malaysia: modernity and wilderness

Malaysia (Tanah Persekutuan Malaysia) is a federal state in South East Asia, just north of the equator, which includes the southern tip of the peninsula of Malacca and the northern part of Borneo, Malaysia is made up of 11 states (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Selangor, Terengganu, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Melaka, Pulau Pinang) situated in Peninsular Malaysia and two states (Sarawak and Sabah) located on the island of Borneo, Malaysia also controls some islands of the Spratly islands. The Peninsular Malaysia is bordered to the north by Thailand and to the south by Singapore, while the states of Sabah and Sarawak border to the south with Indonesia and incorporate as an enclave the Sultanate of Brunei.

Peninsular Malaysia is mostly flat, particularly in its southern and western sections, to the north instead some mountain ranges rise as the Central Range, which runs from north-west to south-east for more than 450 km, whose highest peak is the Gunong Tahan (2,190 metres). The coasts are low, sandy, and often are marshy with several islands, along the west coast are the islands of Langkawi, Pangkor and Pinang, along the east coast are the islands of Perhentian Besar, Perhentian Kecil, Redang, Tenggol, Tioman and Aur.

The territories of Sabah and Sarawak, which occupy much of the northern part of Borneo, is mainly mountain, it rises moere than 4,000 metres with the Mount Kinabalu (4,095 metres), the highest mountain in Malaysia. The coasts of Malay Borneo are flat and edged by mangroves, with some islands (Labuan, Banggi, Balambangam, Sipadan, Jambongan). There are numerous rivers, but all are short, such as Pahang, Perak and Johore, in the Malacca peninsula; and Rajang and Kinabatangan in Malay Borneo.

The economy of Malaysia is among the most developed in south-east Asia, the country is rich in subsoil resources, particularly tin, oil, iron, bauxite, gold, manganese, natural gas, tungsten, copper, coal, phosphates and antimony. Important is agriculture, there are cultivated rice, coconut and palm oil, tobacco, cocoa, tea, cane sugar, spices, cassava, bananas, pineapple, sweet potatoes, vegetables and pepper.

Malaysia is a leading world producers of rubber, rich are the forest resources of the country from which it derives valuable wood (mahogany, teak, bamboo), fishing is also developed. Increasing importance is taking on the industry in particular metallurgy, metalworking, petrochemical, electronics, facilities related to woodworking, the automotive industry and the processing industry of agricultural products. Important is tourism.

  • Area: 329,750 sqkm. (Arable 23%, Pastures 1%, Forests and Woodlands 68%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 8%)
  • Population: 27,500,000 (2007 data) (Malay 50%, Chinese 24%, Indigenous peoples (Dayak etc.) 11%, Indians 7%, others 8%)
  • State Capital: Kuala Lumpur.
  • Languages: The official language is Malay. Spoken also English, Chinese and some Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam).
  • Religion: Muslim 60%, Buddhism 19%, Christian 9%, Hinduism 6%, Taoism 2%.
  • Currency: Ringgit (MYR)
  • Time: UTC +8 hours

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