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About Malaysia

To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia - a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Our multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It's no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.

Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.

One of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.

Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
The Federation of Malaysia comprises of Peninsular Malaysia, and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Situated between 2º and 7º to the North of the Equator line, Peninsular Malaysia is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea.

In the northern part of Peninsular; Malaysia lies Thailand, and in the south, neighbouring Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares borders with Brunei.

Area :329,758 square km              
Population :29.3 million     (Ref: Malaysia@ a Glance 2012 )     
Capital city :Kuala Lumpur
While Malay is the national language the many ethnic groups also converse in their various languages and dialects, but English is also widely spoken. Islam is the official religion of the country, but other religions such as Buddhism and Christianity are widely and freely practiced.

Malays comprise 57% of the population, while the Chinese, Indian and Bumiputeras and other races make up the rest of the country's population. Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All these cultures have influenced each other, creating a truly Malaysian culture.

The largest ethnic groups in Malaysia are the Malays, Chinese and Indians. In Sabah and Sarawak, there are a myriad of indigenous ethnic groups with their own unique culture and heritage.
  • Malay
    Today, the Malays, Malaysia's largest ethnic group, make up more than 50% of the population. In Malaysia, the term Malay refers to a person who practices Islam and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Their conversion to Islam from Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism began in the 1400s, largely influenced by the decision of the royal court of Melaka. The Malays are known for their gentle mannerisms and rich arts heritage.
  • Chinese
    The second largest ethnic group, the Malaysian Chinese form about 25% of the population. Mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants during the 19th century, the Chinese are known for their diligence and keen business sense. The three sub-groups who speak a different dialect of the Chinese language are the Hokkien who live predominantly on the northern island of Penang; the Cantonese who live predominantly in the capital city Kuala Lumpur; and the Mandarin-speaking group who live predominantly in the southern state of Johor.
  • Indian
    The smallest of three main ethnic groups, the Malaysian Indians form about 10% of the population, most are descendants of Tamil-speaking South Indian immigrants who came to the country during the British colonial rule. Lured by the prospect of breaking out of the Indian caste system, they came to Malaysia to build a better life. Predominantly Hindus, they brought with them their colourful culture such as ornate temples, spicy cuisine and exquisite sarees.

  • Orang Asli
    Orang Asli is a general term used for any indigenous groups that are found in PeninsularMalaysia. They are divided into three main tribal groups: Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay. The Negrito usually lives in the north, the Senoi in the middle and the Proto-Malay in the south. Each group or sub-group has its own language and culture. Some are fishermen, some farmers and some are semi-nomadic.

    collectively known as the Dayaks, the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu are the major ethnic groups in the state of Sarawak. Dayak, which means upstream or inland, is used as a blanket term by the Islamic coastal population for over 200 tribal groups. Typically, they live in longhouses, traditional community homes that can house 20 to 100 families.

  • Iban
    The largest of Sarawak's ethnic groups, the Iban form 30% of the state's population, Sometimes erroneously referred to as the Sea Dayaks because of their skill with boats, they are actually an upriver tribe from the heart of Kalimantan. In the past, they were a fearsome warrior race renowned for headhunting and piracy. Traditionally, they worship a triumvirate of gods under the authority of Singalang Burung, the bird-god of war. Although they are now mostly Christians, many traditional customs are still practiced.
  • Bidayuh
    Peace-loving and easy-going, the gentle Bidayuh of Sarawak is famous for their hospitality and Tuak or rice wine. Making their homes in Sarawak's mountainous regions, they are mostly farmers and hunters. In their past headhunting days, their prized skulls were stored in a 'Baruk' a roundhouse that rises about 1.5 metres above the ground. Originally animists, now most of them have converted to Christianity.
  • Orang Ulu
    Also known as upriver tribes of Sarawak, Forming roughly 5.5% of Sarawak's population, there are over 100,000 different Orang Ulu tribes. Arguably Borneo's most artistic people, their large longhouses are ornately decorated with murals and superb woodcarvings; their utensils are embellished with intricate beadwork; and aristocratic ladies cover their bodies with finely detailed tattoos...
    the largest indigenous ethnic groups of Sabah's population are the Kadazan Dusun, the Bajau and the Murut.

  • Kadazan Dusun
    The largest ethnic group of Sabah, the Kadazan Dusun form about 30% of the state's population, Actually consisting of two tribes; the Kadazan and the Dusun, they were grouped together as they both share the same language and culture. However, the Kadazan are mainly inhabitants of flat valley deltas, which are conducive to paddy field farming, while the Dusun traditionally lived in the hilly and mountainous regions of interior Sabah.
  • Bajau
    The second largest ethnic group in Sabah, the Bajau make up about 15% of the state's population, Historically a nomadic sea-faring people that worshipped the Omboh Dilaut or God of the Sea, they are sometimes referred to as the Sea Gypsies. Those who chose to leave their sea-faring ways became farmers and cattle-breeders. These lands Bajau are nicknamed 'Cowboys of the East' in tribute to their impressive equestrian skills, which are publicly displayed in the annual Tamu Besar festival at Kota Belud. 
  • Murut
    The third largest ethnic group in Sabah the Murut make up about 3% of the state's population, Traditionally inhabiting the northern inland regions of Borneo, they were the last of Sabah's ethnic groups to renounce headhunting. Now, they are mostly shifting cultivators of hill paddy and tapioca, supplementing their diet with blowpipe hunting and fishing. Like most indigenous tribes in Sabah, their traditional clothing is decorated with distinctive beadwork.
(Bahasa Melayu) Malay is the national language in use, but English is widely spoken. The ethnic groups also converse in the various languages and dialects.  
Islam is the official religion of the country, but other religions are widely practiced.。  
Malaysia follows the bicameral legislative system, adopting a democratic parliamentary. The head of the country is the King or the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, a position which is changed every five years among the Malay Sultanates. The head of government is the Prime Minister.  
The country experiences tropical weather year-round. Temperatures are from 21°C 70°F) to 32°C (90°F). Higher elevations are much colder with temperatures between 15°C (59° F) to 25°C (77°F). Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm.  
Malaysian State & National Holidays 2018  
Dates Occasion For
1 Jan (Mon) New Year's Day National except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Trengganu
14 Jan (Sun) Yang di-Pertuan Besar
Negeri Sembilan's Birthday
Negeri Sembilan
21 Jan (Sun) Sultan of Kedah's Birthday Kedah
31 Jan (Wed) Thaipusam Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Putrajaya & Selangor
1 Feb (Thu) Federal Territory Day Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan & Putrajaya

16 - 17 Feb
(Fri & Sat)

Chinese New Year (1st & 2nd Day) National
18 Feb (Sun) Chinese New Year Holiday Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu
4 Mar (Sun) Anniversary of Installation
of Sultan of Trengganu
23 Mar (Fri) Sultan of Johor's Birthday Johor
30 Mar (Fri) Good Friday Sabah & Sarawak
14 Apr (Sat) Israk and Mikraj Kedah, Negeri Sembilan & Perlis
15 Apr (Sun) Declaration of Malacca as
a Historical City
26 Apr (Thu) Sultan of Terengganu's Birthday Terengganu
1 May (Tue) Labour Day National
7 May (Mon) Hari Hol Pahang Pahang
17 May (Thu) Awal Ramadan Johor, Kedah & Melaka
17 May (Thu) Raja Perlis' Birthday Perlis
29 May (Tue) Wesak Day National
30 - 31 May
(Wed & Thu)
Harvest Festival Sabah & Labuan
1 - 2 Jun
(Fri & Sat)
Hari Gawai Sarawak
2 Jun (Sat) Nuzul Al-Quran National except Johor, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah & Sarawak
15 - 16 Jun
(Fri & Sat)
Hari Raya Aidilfitri National
17 Jun (Sun) Hari Raya Aidilfitri Holiday Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu
7 Jul (Sat) Georgetown World Heritage City Day Penang
14 Jul (Sat) Penang Governor's Birthday Penang
22 Jul (Sun) Sarawak Independent Day Sarawak
22 Aug (Wed) Hari Raya Haji National
23 Aug (Thu) Hari Raya Haji Holiday Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis & Terengganu
31 Aug (Fri) Merdeka Day (Malaysia National Day) National
9 Sep (Sun) Agong's Birthday National
9 Sep (Sun) Sarawak Governor's Birthday Sarawak
11 Sep (Tue) Awal Muharram National
16 Sep (Sun) Malaysia Day National
17 Sep (Mon) Malaysia Day Holiday National except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu
6 Oct (Sat) Sabah Governor's Birthday Sabah
12 Oct (Fri) Melaka Governor's Birthday Melaka
15 Oct (Mon) Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Johor
24 Oct (Wed) Sultan of Pahang's Birthday Pahang
2 Nov (Fri) Sultan of Perak's Birthday Perak
6 Nov (Tue) Deepavali National except Sarawak
11 - 12 Nov
(Sun - Mon)
Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday Holiday Kelantan
20 Nov (Tue) Prophet Muhammad's Birthday National
11 Dec (Tue) Sultan of Selangor's Birthday Selangor
25 Dec (Tue) Christmas Day National
  • * Subject to change - depending on the sighting of the new moon
  • Malaysia School Holidays 2018 (Update on 17 Nov 2017)
    17 Mar 2018 – 25 Mar 2018
    09 Jun 2018 – 24 Jun 2018
    18 Aug 2018 – 26 Aug 2018
    24 Nov 2018 – 31 Dec 2018
    *For schools in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, holidays start and end a day earlier.
  • * Examination period – normally 1~2 weeks before school holiday (Depend on schools)
Economic Profile  
Manufacturing constitutes the largest single component of Malaysia's economy. Tourism and primary commodities such as petroleum, palm oil, natural rubber and timber are major contributors to the economy.  
Set in the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is easily accessible from most parts of the world by air, surface and sea links. Over 45 international airlines fly into the country while national carrier Malaysia Airlines has a global network that spans six continents and a national network that covers more than 36 local destinations. AirAsia, Malaysia's budget airline also services certain domestic and regional routes.  


Do's and Don'ts
Malaysia is generally a laid back and relaxed place. However, we do have our own customs and visitors should try to observe these practices when they arrive. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:

Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling. A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. The traditional greeting or Salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The man offers both hands, lightly touches his friend's outstretched hands, and then brings his hands to his chest to mean, "I greet you from my heart". The visitor should reciprocate the Salam.
  • It is polite to call before visiting a home.
  • Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.
  • Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.。
  • The right hand is always used when eating with one's hand or giving and receiving objects.
  • The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.
  • Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples.
  • Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors. Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.

Say it in Malay


English Malay
How do you do? Apa khabar?
Good morning Selamat pagi 
Good afternoon Selamat tengahari
Goodbye Selamat tinggal 
Bon voyage Selamat Jalan 
Fine Baik 
Welcome Selamat datang   

【Pronouns and Titles 】

I Saya 
You Anda / Awak 
We Kita / Kami 
He/She Dia 
They Mereka 
Mr. Encik  
Miss Cik   


Go up Naik  
Go down Turun
Turn   Belok
Right Kanan     
Front      Hadapan
East Timur  
Behind   Belakang     
South Selatan       
Up Atas       
Down Bawah 

【Useful Words and Expressions 】

A little   Sedikit 
A lot Banyak
Beach    Pantai
Beef   Daging lembu   
Chicken    Ayam     
Cold Sejuk  
Crab  Ketam     
Drink   Minum     
Do not have Tiada      
Eat Makan 
Excuse me   Maafkan saya 
Exit Keluar 
Female    Perempuan
Fish  Ikan    
Fruit     Buah       
Have Ada  
Hot  Panas      
I am sorry Saya minta maaf        
Male Lelaki         
Meat Daging  
Mutton    Daging kambing  
Please Tolong/Sila   
Pork   Daging babi   
No  Tidak  
Prawn   Udang           
Salt Garam  
Shop   Kedai    
Thank you  Terima kasih        
Wait Tunggu        
Toilet Tandas/Bilik air 
Want    Mahu 
Water Air 
Yes    Ya

【Questions 】

Can you help me? Bolehkah anda tolong saya?
How do I get there? Bagaimana hendak ke sana?  
How far? Berapa jauh?  
How long will it take? Berapa lama?  
How much (price) does it cost? Berapa harganya??  
What is this/that? Apa ini/itu?   
What is your name? Apakah nama anda?         
When? Bila?      


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