Monday, January 11, 2010



Malaya can refer to:

1. Geographic/former political entities

* The Malay Peninsula
* Malay Archipelago, the broader macroregion.

2. Malaya including Singapore

* British Malaya (18th century-1946), a loose collection of British-controlled states
* The Malay states, locally-ruled states under British protection (divided into the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States).

* In Singapore law, Malaya means the States of Malaya (also known as Peninsular Malaysia) together with Singapore (1946-present).

3. Malaya excluding Singapore

* The Malayan Union (1946-1948), a post-war British colony consisting of all states in British Malaya except Singapore.
* The Federation of Malaya (1948-1963), the successor to the Malayan Union (also excluding Singapore), which gained independence within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1957.
* Present-day Peninsular Malaysia (1963-present), also formally known as the States of Malaya or West Malaysia, includes the states and territories formerly composing the Federation of Malaya.

The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula (Malay: Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, Thai: คาบสมุทรมลายู) is in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its teminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland. The area contains territories of Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Titiwangsa Mountains is part of the Tenasserim Hills system, and forms the backbone of the Peninsula. They form the southernmost section of the central cordillera which runs from Tibet through the Kra Isthmus (the Peninsula's narrowest point) into the Malay peninsula.[1] The Straits of Malacca separates the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra while the south coast is separated from the island of Singapore by the Straits of Johor.

The Malay term Tanah Melayu (literally: 'Malay Soil') is generally used by the Malays and occasionally used in political discourse to describe uniting all ethnic Malay people on the peninsula under one Malay nation, although this ambition was largely realised with the creation of Malaysia.

Malay Archipelago

The Malay Archipelago is the archipelago located between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the group of 25,000 islands is the world's largest archipelago by area. It includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, and most of Papua New Guinea. The island of New Guinea is not always included in definitions of the Malay Archipelago.

Etymology and terminology

The common name was derived from the concept of a Malay race, which included the peoples of modern-day Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The racial concept was proposed by European colonialists based on their observations of the influence of the ethnic Malay empire, Srivijaya.

The 19th century naturalist Alfred Wallace used the term "Malay Archipelago" as the title of his influential book documenting his studies in the region. Wallace also referred to the area as the "Indian Archipelago" and the "Indo-Australian" Archipelago. He included within the region the Solomon Islands and the Malay Peninsula due to physiographic similarities. As Wallace noted, there are arguments for excluding Papua New Guinea for cultural and geographical reasons: Papua New Guinea is culturally quite different from the other countries in the region, and the island of New Guinea itself is geologically not part of the continent of Asia, as the islands of the Sunda Shelf are (see Australia).

The archipelago was called the "East Indies" in the European colonial era and is still sometimes referred to as such, but broader usages of the "East Indies" term had included Indochina and the Indian subcontinent. Indonesians use the term "Nusantara" for the "Malay archipelago". The area is also referred to as the Indonesian archipelago.

The archipelago's population is over 300 million and the most heavily populated island is Java. In contrast, of Indonesia's estimated 17,500 islands, for example, about 6,000 are inhabited. The people of the archipelago are predominantly from Austronesian subgroupings and correspondingly speak western Malayo-Polynesian languages. This region of Southeast Asia shares more social and cultural ties with other Austronesian peoples in the Pacific than with the peoples of Mainland Southeast Asia.

Peninsular Malaysia is included in Maritime Southeast Asia(Maritime Southeast Asia refers to the maritime region of Southeast Asia as opposed to Mainland Southeast Asia and includes the modern countries of Indonesia, Malaysia(North Borneo), the Philippines and Singapore such that all the non-Oceanian Austronesian peoples are grouped in one cultural region).

Note: the cultural region is better described as Mainland Southeast Asia in which sense it also includes:

* Peninsular Malaysia (the southern end of the Malay peninsula excluding the Malay islands)
* Myanmar (formerly Burma--part of British India until 1937)
* Singapore (also considered part of Maritime Southeast Asia if the Johor-Singapore Causeway is not taken into account)
* Thailand (formerly Siam)

The main religions in this region are Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and traditional Animism.

Other meanings/usage

1. Malaya (Philippine newspaper), after the Tagalog word meaning "free" or "freedom".
2. The Malayan tribe of Kerala State in India

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