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People and Society






During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula except Singapore formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore as well as Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation. The first several years of the country's independence were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's departure from the Federation in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials to the development of manufacturing, services, and tourism. Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Razak (in office since April 2009) has continued these pro-business policies.


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People And Society

Noun Malaysian(s)
Adjective Malaysian

Ethnic groups
Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
In East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan

Muslim (or Islam - official) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)

Population World Ranking: 43
29,179,952 (July 2012 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years
29.6% (male 4,374,495/female 4,132,009)
15-64 years
65.4% (male 9,539,972/female 9,253,574)
65 years and over
5% (male 672,581/female 755,976) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 27.1 years
Male 26.9 years
Female 27.3 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 76
1.542% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 82
20.74 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 186
4.95 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 134
-0.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region (2012 est.)

Urban population 72% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
2.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
KUALA LUMPUR (capital) 1.493 million; Klang 1.071 million; Johor Bahru 958,000 (2009)

Sex ratio
At birth 1.07 male(s)/female
Under 15 years 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over 0.89 male(s)/female
Total population
1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 125
29 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 119
Total 14.57 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 16.83 deaths/1,000 live births
12.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 111
Total population 74.04 years
Male 71.28 years
Female 76.99 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 77
2.64 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 58
8% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
0.941 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density
1.82 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 68
0.5% (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids World Ranking: 41
100,000 (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - deaths World Ranking: 36
5,800 (2009 est.)

Major infectious diseases
Degree of risk High
Food or waterborne diseases Bacterial diarrhea
Vectorborne diseases Dengue fever and malaria
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 28
16.3% (2006)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 101
4.1% of GDP (2008)

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 88.7%
Male 92%
Female 85.4% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 13 years
Male 12 years
Female 13 years (2008)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 World Ranking: 99
Total 10.9%
Male 10.3%
Female 11.8% (2008)


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  GPS points from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)

Sungai Siaun Sabah

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Sungai Taong Negeri Sembilan

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