342,000 sq. km (132,000 sq miles) comprising Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo island.
Location and Map of Malaysia
North of the equator, with the peninsular bordered by Singapore in the south and Thailand in the north. Sabah and Sarawak border Indonesia (Kalimantan).
A blend of the great Asian cultures of the world, Malaysians comprise Malays and the indigenous tribes, which make up some 60 percent of the population, Chinese fewer than 30 percent, Indians fewer than 10 percent, and a potpourri of other ethnic groups.
The main an official religion is Islam, adopted by the Malays, but religious tolerance sees the open practice of Buddhism and Taoism among the Chinese, Hinduism among the Indians and Christianity among non-Malay. Some indigenous people retain their animist beliefs.
Culture, Custom and Festivals
The various ethnic groups in Malaysia has created a cultural diversity which sees the flourishing of Malaysia’s places of worship, colorful festivals, variety of food, and their particular brand of English. A Malaysian custom during major festivals is the “open house” whereby practitioners of the various religions open their doors to visitors all day. This is when people of different races visit each other to wish each other Gong Xi Fa Chai during Chinese New Year, Selamat Hari Raya during the Muslim New Year, and Happy Deepavali during the Hindu Festival of Lights.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy comprising 13 states and a federal territory. Independent from British colonial rule since 1957, the Malaysian government is regulated by the Parliament comprising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king), who iselected for a five-year term fro among the sultans of the states, and two houses: the House of Representatives, to which members are elected once every five years, and the Senate, to which members are nominated.
In an Islamic nation with a British colonial past, the definition of the “working week” varies. In the former British Federated States, it runs from Monday to Friday and Saturday morning. However, the formerly semi-autonomous states of Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu, and Kelantan retain the traditional half-day on Thursday and are closed on Friday, not Sunday. Every first and third Saturday is when government offices and bank are closed.
The working day begins at 8am and ends at 4:30om with time off on Friday from noon to 2:30pm for communal prayers at mosques. Most private businesses stick to the 9 to 5 routine. Shops start to close at 6pm, but large supermarkets, department stores and shopping malls are open 10am to 10pm.
Time Zone Malaysia’s standard time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
The official language is Bahasa Malaysia (Malay), but English is the language of business and technology. The Chinese also use Mandarin and various Chinese dialects, while the Indians use Tamil and other Indian languages. The indigenous people retain their own languages.
Ringgit and sen. RM1=100sen. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 sen and notes in RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM50, RM100, and RM500.
Weights and Measures
Malaysia follows the metric system, but people in rural areas might still use miles rather than kilometers for distance.
220 volts, 50 cycles. American products do not work here, but most supermarket stock adapters. Major hotels can supply an adapter for 110-120 volt, 60 Hz appliances.
International Dialing Code
To call Malaysia from abroad, dial 00 60 followed by the local code, omitting the initial zero, then the number you want.