A bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It's no wonder that Malaysians 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.
The overall area of Malaysia is 329,758 square km, the population equals 28.3 million, and the capital city is Kuala Lumpur.
Malays comprise 57% of the population, while the Chinese, Indian and Bumiputeras and other races make up the rest of the country's population.
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 practised.
The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM or MYR.
The exchange rate is valued at USD1 = RM3.15. Notes are available in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100 denominations, while coins are issued in 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen (cents) denominations.