Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia consisting of thirteen states and three Federal Territories, with a total landmass of 329,845 square kilometres (127,354 sq mi). The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population stands at over 28 million. The country is separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo (also known as East Malaysia). Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei. It is near the equator and has a tropical climate. Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, an elected monarch, and the head of government is the Prime Minister. The government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system.
Malaysia as a unified state did not exist until 1963. Previously, the United Kingdom had established influence in colonies in the territory from the late 18th century. The western half of modern Malaysia was composed of several separate kingdoms. This group of colonies was known as British Malaya until its dissolution in 1946, when it was reorganized as the Malayan Union. Due to widespread opposition, it was reorganized again as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and later gained independence on 31 August 1957. Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo, and the Federation of Malaya merged to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. Tensions in the early years of the new union sparked an armed conflict with Indonesia, and the expulsion of Singapore on 9 August 1965.
During the late 20th century, Malaysia experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development. It borders the Strait of Malacca, an important international shipping crossroad, and international trade is integral to its economy. Manufacturing makes up a major sector of the country's economy. Malaysia has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is also considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries.