Malaysia at a Glance

Overview of Malaysia

General

Enter Malaysia – a tropical, Muslim-majority country in Southeast Asia where its citizens live in multi-racial and multi-religious harmony. Comprising of 13 states and three federal territories and headed by the only elected constitutional monarch in the world, Malaysia is a vibrant and diverse parliamentary democracy with a population of over 30 million, making is the world’s 44th most populous country in the world.

The federal territories host the nation’s largest city of Kuala Lumpur which houses the country’s largest commercial and financial institutions, as well as the federal administrative capital city of Putrajaya. While English is commonly spoken, the official and national language of Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu (Malay language). Malaysian English, a local vernacular more commonly known as Manglish, is a mish-mash of Malay, English, Mandarin and Tamil.

Living Environment

Home to a diverse group of races and religions, the melting pot that is Malaysia is reflected in the languages used on a daily basis, as well as its rich traditional and modern influences on the country’s architecture and gastronomical delights. A culinary haven for many, Malaysian food has influences from all around the region. Dishes from Malay, Chinese, Eurasian, Indian, Thai, Javanese, and Sumatran cultures often feature more frequently. From staples like rice and noodles to exotic meats, Malaysian cuisine has it all and no picky eater will go hungry. More commonly sought out are its street vendors who dish up mouth-watering fare but do ensure food is served piping hot to dissuade any upset stomach.

Places of Interest State Distance from
Kuala Lumpur (KM)
Lenggong Valley – UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site (Archeology) Perak 272
Melaka City – UNESCO World Heritage Melaka 145
Site (Culture)
George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site (Culture) Penang 358
Gunung Mulu National Park – UNESCO Wrold Heritage Site (Nature) Sarawak 1460
Kinabalu National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site (Nature) Sabah 1680
Peninsular Malaysia National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site (Nature) Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu 241
FRIM Selangor Forest Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site (Nature) Selangor 20
Langkawi Kedah 449
Sipadan Islands Sabah 1886
Genting Highlands Pahang 55

Home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, amongst them, Kinabalu National Park boasts one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. An ecotourism hotspot, the country is home to an estimated 20% of the world’s animal species. The Malaysian landscape is as varied as it is culturally diverse. Pristine beaches line its coast and its biodiversity-rich rainforest offer many adventures to those who venture forth.

Most of Malaysia’s inhabitants reside in major cities and many are a collection of Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. The commercial capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to old colonial buildings, modern busy shopping districts such as Bukit Bintang and skyscrapers such as the iconic, 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers. Most of the population are settled in the centre of peninsula Malaysia, where 20 million out of approximately 28 million Malaysians live, of which 70% reside in developed cities.

Transportation throughout Malaysia reflects its status as an emerging economy. Paved roads and bustling highways link small towns to large cities. Rail transport is available in most parts of the country and comprises heavy rail (KTM) and rapid transit system such as MRT, LRT and and Monorail (Rapid Rail). Heavy rail is mostly used for intercity passenger and cargo transport, while Rapid Rail are used for intra-city urban public transport. More rapid transit networks, including in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor and Sarawak, are currently under construction to improve the overall’s public transport system.

The main gateway to the rest of the world, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is also Malaysia’s busiest airport. In 2017, KLIA was the world’s 23rd-busiest airport in terms of total passenger traffic.

Economy

Malaysia has developed from a mainly agriculture- and primary industry-based economy to a successful exporter of electrical and electronic parts and appliances, chemicals, heavy machineries, as well as IT and financial services.

Data from the Malaysia Economic Monitor, World Bank shows that growth in Malaysia accelerated for the past few years with year-on-year growth projected at 4.7 percent for 2019.

Accelerated growth has been fueled by strengthening domestic demand, improved labour market conditions, and wage growth, as well as improved external demand for Malaysia’s manufactured products and commodities.

Study Environment

Home to some of the top universities in the region, notable tertiary institutions include the University of Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia. In 2018, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings ranked Universiti Malaya at the 87th place in the world, 19th place in Asia, 3rd in Southeast Asia and the top-ranked learning institution in Malaysia.

Technology has been a forte of Malaysia’s economy, and catering to that demand are institutions like Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). UTP, for example, places a strong emphasis on research and development as it strives to achieve the status of an internationally renowned research university.

As a culturally rich nation, Malaysia has produced regional- and internally-acclaimed stars in both the arts and sports. Notable figures include Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh, renowned designer Jimmy Choo, badminton star Lee Chong Wei, singer/songwriter like Siti Nurhaliza and Yuna. A thriving arts scene to wow all tastes, be it traditional dances or modern musical acts, Malaysia has it all.