[Country map of Malaysia]



Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula and northern one-third of the island of Borneo bordering the Java Sea and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam

Map references: Southeast Asia

total area: 329,750 sq km
land area: 328,550 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than New Mexico

Land boundaries: total 2,669 km, Brunei 381 km, Indonesia 1,782 km, Thailand 506 km

Coastline: 4,675 km (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068 km, East Malaysia 2,607 km)

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with China, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; State of Sabah claimed by the Philippines; Brunei may wish to purchase the Malaysian salient that divides Brunei into two parts; two islands in dispute with Singapore; two islands in dispute with Indonesia

Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons

Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains

Natural resources: tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 10%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 63%
other: 24%

Irrigated land: 3,420 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation
natural hazards: flooding
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83; signed, but not ratified - Law of the Sea

Note: strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea


Population: 19,723,587 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 37% (female 3,559,434; male 3,690,310)
15-64 years: 59% (female 5,871,131; male 5,844,568)
65 years and over: 4% (female 423,539; male 334,605) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.24% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 27.95 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.56 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.48 years
male: 66.55 years
female: 72.56 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.47 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian

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

Peninsular Malaysia: Muslim (Malays), Buddhist (Chinese), Hindu (Indians)
Sabah: Muslim 38%, Christian 17%, other 45%
Sarawak: tribal religion 35%, Buddhist and Confucianist 24%, Muslim 20%, Christian 16%, other 5%

Peninsular Malaysia: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil
Sabah: English, Malay, numerous tribal dialects, Chinese (Mandarin and Hakka dialects predominate)
Sarawak: English, Malay, Mandarin, numerous tribal languages *** No data for this item ***

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 78%
male: 86%
female: 70%

Labor force: 7.627 million (1993)


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Malaysia
former: Malayan Union

Digraph: MY

Type: constitutional monarchy
note: Federation of Malaysia formed 9 July 1963; nominally headed by the paramount ruler (king) and a bicameral Parliament; Peninsular Malaysian states - hereditary rulers in all but Melaka, where governors are appointed by Malaysian Pulau Pinang Government; powers of state governments are limited by federal Constitution; Sabah - self-governing state, holds 20 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign affairs, defense, internal security, and other powers delegated to federal government; Sarawak - self-governing state, holds 27 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign affairs, defense, internal security, and other powers delegated to federal government

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Administrative divisions: 13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri) and 2 federal territories* (wilayah-wilayah persekutuan, singular - wilayah persekutuan); Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Labuan*, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Terengganu, Wilayah Persekutuan*

Independence: 31 August 1957 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 31 August (1957)

Constitution: 31 August 1957, amended 16 September 1963

Legal system: based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court at request of supreme head of the federation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Paramount Ruler JA'AFAR ibni Abdul Rahman (since 26 April 1994); Deputy Paramount Ruler SALAHUDDIN ibni Hisammuddin Alam Shah (since 26 April 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Dr. MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (since 16 July 1981); Deputy Prime Minister ANWAR bin Ibrahim (since 1 December 1993)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the Paramount Ruler from members of parliament

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Parlimen)
Senate (Dewan Negara): consists of 58 members, 32 appointed by the paramount ruler and 26 elected by the state legislatures (2 from each state) for six-year terms; elections last held NA (next to be held NA); results - NA
House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat): consists of 180 members, elected for five-year terms; elections last held 21 October 1990 (next to be held by December 1995); results - National Front 52%, other 48%; seats - (180 total) National Front 127, DAP 20, PAS 7, independents 4, other 22; note - within the National Front, UMNO won 71 seats and MCA won 18 seats

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:
Peninsular Malaysia: National Front, a confederation of 13 political parties dominated by United Malays National Organization Baru (UMNO Baru), MAHATHIR bin Mohamad; Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), LING Liong Sik; Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, LIM Keng Yaik; Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), S. Samy VELLU
Sabah: National Front, SALLEH Said Keruak, Sabah Chief Minister, Sakaran DANDAI, head of Sabah State; United Sabah National Organizaton (USNO), leader NA
Sarawak: coalition Sarawak National Front composed of the Party Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Datuk Patinggi Amar Haji Abdul TAIB Mahmud; Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Datuk Amar James WONG Soon Kai; Sarawak National Party (SNAP), Datuk Amar James WONG; Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), Datuk Leo MOGGIE; major opposition parties are Democratic Action Party (DAP), LIM Kit Siang and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Fadzil NOOR


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Abdul MAJID bin Mohamed
chancery: 2401 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2700
FAX: [1] (202) 483-7661
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles and New York

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador John S. WOLF
embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
mailing address: P. O. Box No. 10035, 50700 Kuala Lumpur; APO AP 96535-8152
telephone: [60] (3) 2489011
FAX: [60] (3) 2422207

Flag: fourteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top) alternating with white (bottom); there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a yellow crescent and a yellow fourteen-pointed star; the crescent and the star are traditional symbols of Islam; the design was based on the flag of the US


Overview: The Malaysian economy, a mixture of private enterprise and a soundly managed public sector, has posted a remarkable record of 9% average annual growth in 1988-94. The official growth target for 1995 is 8.5%. This growth has resulted in a substantial reduction in poverty and a marked rise in real wages. Manufactured goods exports expanded rapidly, and foreign investors continued to commit large sums in the economy. The government is aware of the inflationary potential of this rapid development and is closely monitoring fiscal and monetary policies.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $166.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 8.7% (1994)

National product per capita: $8,650 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.7% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 2.9% (1994)

revenues: $18.7 billion
expenditures: $19.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $4.8 billion (1994)

Exports: $56.6 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: electronic equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles
partners: Singapore 22%, US 20%, Japan 13%, UK 4%, Germany 4%, Thailand 4% (1993)

Imports: $55.2 billion (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, food, petroleum products
partners: Japan 27%, US 17%, Singapore 15%, Taiwan 5%, Germany 4%, UK 3%, South Korea 3% (1993)

External debt: $35.5 billion (1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 12% (1994); accounts for 38% of GDP (1993 est.)

capacity: 6,700,000 kW
production: 31 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 1,528 kWh (1993)

Peninsular Malaysia: rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging and processing timber
Sabah: logging, petroleum production
Sarawak: agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging

Agriculture: accounts for 16% of GDP (1993 est.)
Peninsular Malaysia: natural rubber, palm oil, rice
Sabah: mainly subsistence, but also rubber, timber, coconut, rice
Sarawak: rubber, timber, pepper; deficit of rice in all areas

Illicit drugs: transit point for Golden Triangle heroin going to the US, Western Europe, and the Third World despite severe penalties for drug trafficking; increasing indigenous abuse of methamphetamine

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-84), $170 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $4.7 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $42 million

Currency: 1 ringgit (M$) = 100 sen

Exchange rates: ringgits (M$) per US$1 - 2.5542 (January 1995), 2.6242 (1994), 2.5741 (1993), 2.5474 (1992), 2.7501 (1991), 1.7048 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 1,801 km (Peninsular Malaysia 1,665 km; Sabah 136 km; Sarawak 0 km)
narrow gauge: 1,801 km 1.000-m gauge (Peninsular Malaysia 1,665 km; Sabah 136 km)

total: 29,028 km (Peninsular Malaysia 23,602 km, Sabah 3,782 km, Sarawak 1,644 km)
paved: NA (Peninsular Malaysia 19,354 km mostly bituminous treated)
unpaved: NA (Peninsular Malaysia 4,248 km)

Inland waterways:
Peninsular Malaysia: 3,209 km
Sabah: 1,569 km
Sarawak: 2,518 km

Pipelines: crude oil 1,307 km; natural gas 379 km

Ports: Kota Kinabalu, Kuantan, Kuching, Kudat, Lahad Datu, Labuan, Lumut, Miri, Pasir Gudang, Penang, Port Dickson, Port Kelang, Sandakan, Sibu, Tanjong Berhala, Tanjong Kidurong, Tawau

Merchant marine:
total: 213 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,410,823 GRT/3,635,966 DWT
ships by type: bulk 34, cargo 73, chemical tanker 11, container 27, liquefied gas tanker 9, livestock carrier 1, oil tanker 50, roll-on/roll-off cargo 4, short-sea passenger 1, vehicle carrier 3

total: 115
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 6
with paved runways under 914 m: 82
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7


Telephone system: 994,860 telephones (1984); international service good
local: NA
intercity: good intercity service provided on Peninsular Malaysia mainly by microwave radio relay; adequate intercity microwave radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; 2 domestic satellite links
international: submarine cables extend to India and Sarawak; SEACOM submarine cable links to Hong Kong and Singapore; satellite earth stations - 2 INTELSAT (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)

broadcast stations: AM 28, FM 3, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 33
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Air Force, Royal Malaysian Police Force, Marine Police, Sarawak Border Scouts

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 5,041,003; males fit for military service 3,058,445; males reach military age (21) annually 183,760 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $2.1 billion, 2.9% of GDP (1994)