Penang, Malaysia

A blue rectangle with a gold star and crescent in the canton, with 14 horizontal red and white lines on the rest of the flag

The Malaysia team is led by Dr. Rohana Jalil and includes researchers from the University of Science Malaysia in Penang.

Malaysia at a Glance

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Area: 329,758 sq km
Population: 30,073,353
Median age: total 27.7 yr
Urban population: 72.8% of total population
Life expectancy: male 66.68 yr ; female 69.06 yr
Per Capita GDP: $4,000

Background: Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a federation of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. The first several years of the country’s history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore’s secession from the federation in 1965.

Country: The Federation of Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

Geographical Location: Located between 2 and 7 degrees north of the Equator, Peninsula Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. To the north of Peninsula Malaysia is Thailand while its southern neighbour is Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.

People and Culture: Malaysia has a combined population of over 25 million people. Because of its central location, between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Malaysia has traditionally been a meeting point for traders and travelers from both the East and West. As a result, Malaysia has a multicultural and multiracial population consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and numerous indigenous peoples. Although Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in business, and the English language is a compulsory subject in all schools. With such a varying ethnic composition, it is no surprise that a great diversity of religions is prevalent throughout Malaysia. Although the official religion is Islam, freedom of worship is practiced. As a result, it is a common to see temples, mosques and churches within the same area.

Ethnic Groups: 59% Malay and other indigenous, 32% Chinese and 9% Indian.

Language: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Mandarin, Hakka dialects, Cantonese, Tamil and numerous tribal languages.

Religion: Muslim (primarily Malays), Buddhism (Chinese), Hindu (Indian), Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism and tribal religions.

Government: Parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislative system. The Head of State is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister.

Climate: Tropical climate with warm weather all year round. Temperatures range from 21 °C to 32°C. Annual rainfall varies from 2000mm to 2500mm.

History and Culture: There is a strong interlink between the country’s multi-racial and multicultural make-up and its history. Besides the local Malays and the native groups, immigrants from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of the world have all contributed to the multiracial composition of its population. Its interesting cultural diversity can be largely attributed to the country’s long and on-going interaction with the outside world and colonial rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Consequently the evolution of the country into a cultural melting pot is evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural activities and traditions, dressing, languages and food.

The country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as the Federation of Malaya and subsequently with the entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963, Malaysia was formed.