Malaysia is a multi–ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society, and the many ethnic groups in Malaysia maintain separate cultural identities. The society of Malaysia has been described as “Asia in miniature”. Malaysia’s cultural mosaic is marked by many different cultures, but several in particular have had especially lasting influence on the country. Chief among these is the ancient Malay culture, and the cultures of Malaysia’s two most prominent trading partners throughout history–the Chinese, and the Indians. These three groups are joined by a dizzying array of indigenous tribes, many of which live in the forests and coastal areas of East Malaysia. Although each of these cultures has vigorously maintained its traditions and community structures, they have also blended together to create contemporary Malaysia’s uniquely diverse heritage.
Located just north of the equator, Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, and has maritime boundaries with Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Both West (or Peninsular) Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) consist of rugged forested mountainous interiors descending to coastal plains.
National Language and Religion
The national language is Bahasa Malaysia while the national religion is Islam.
Malaysia is a relatively open, state-oriented, newly industrialised market economy. The state plays a significant but declining role in guiding economic activity through macroeconomic plans. Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5 per cent annually from 1957 to 2005. Malaysia’s economy in 2014–2015 was one of the most competitive in Asia, ranking 6th in Asia and 20th in the world.
Australia and Malaysia share a long history of cooperation. 2015 marked the 60th anniversary of Australia’s diplomatic presence in Malaysia.