Be drawn to a nation so peaceful and safe. A country made up of the Malays, Chinese and Indian. A potpourri enriched with the indigenous traditions of Ibans, Kadazan, Dusuns and other ethnic communities of East Malaysia. With a diversity of races and religions, cultures and traditions, Malaysia is indeed the perfect setting for colourful celebrations and joyous festivals.
Malaysia is also an excellent destination for romantic getaways, especially for honeymooners seeking an idyllic tropical retreat with modern amenities. Basically an insular country, it has a seemingly unending coastline and pristine beaches. There are also numerous scenic islands in Malaysias territorial waters. From the large and developed island of Penang to small rock outcrops jutting out from the sea, the country, with its rich marine flora and fauna, has earned a reputation of being a diver’s paradise. For land-based adventurers, there are cascading waterfalls and cool evergreen forest and mountains with fascinating panoramic views.
Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia at one of the world’s major crossroads, Malaysia has always been pivotal to trade routes from Europe, the Orient, India and China. Its warm tropical climate and abundant natural blessings made it a congenial destination for immigrants as early as 5,000 years ago when the ancestors of the Orang Asli, the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, settled here, probably the pioneers of a general movement from China and Tibet. The peninsula came under the rule of the Cambodian-based Funan, the Sumatran-based Srivijaya and the Java-based Majapahit empires, before the Chinese arrived in Melaka in 1405. They were followed by the Malays, who brought with them skills in farming and the use of metals. Around the first century BC, strong trading links were established with China and India, and these had a major impact on the culture, language and social customs of the country.
Evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist period in the history of Malaysia can today be found in the temple sites of the Bujang Valley and Merbok Estuary in Kedah in the north west of Peninsular Malaysia, near the Thai border. The spread of Islam, introduced by Arab and Indian traders, brought the Hindu-Buddhist era to an end by the 13th century. With the conversion of the Malay-Hindu rulers of the Melaka Sultanate (the Malay kingdom which ruled both side of the Straits of Malaka for over a hundred years), Islam was established as the religion of the Malays, and had profound effect on Malay society.
The first Muslim empire in Malaya, based on the trading port of Malacca on the western side of the peninsula, was formed under the rule of King Parameswara in the first quarter of the 15th century. Early in the 16th century, the Portuguese moved in and, after capturing Malacca, established a number of fortified bases in the region. Sultan Mahmud, the ruler of Malacca at the time, was unable to recapture it immediately. However, his successors – who had moved to Johore on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula – noted the arrival of the Dutch in the region at the end of the century and formed an alliance with them to expel the Portuguese in 1641.The British acquired Melaka from the Dutch in 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra. From their new bases in Malaka, Penang and Singapore, collectively known as the Straits settlements, the British, through their influence and power, began the process of political integration of the Malay states of Peninsular Malaysia.
After World War II and the Japanese occupation from 1941-45, the British created the Malayan Union 1946.This was abandoned in 1948 and the Federation of Malaya emerged in its place. The Federation gained its independence from Britain on 31 August 1957. Singapore, which had a mostly Chinese population, remained outside the federation as a British crown colony. Peninsular Malaysia became an independent nation called Malaya in 1957. When the British flag was finally lowered in Kuala Lumpur’s Dataran Merdeka in 1957, Tunku became the first prime minister of Malaya. In September 1963, Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form Malaysia, a country whose potpourri of society and customs derives from its rich heritage from four of the world’s major cultures – Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Western
Geographical Location Located between 2 and 7 degrees north of the Equator. Peninsular Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. To the north of Peninsular Malaysia is Thailand while its southern neighbour is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei Darussalam.