[Country flag of Malaysia]
[Country map of Malaysia]


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

Geographic coordinates: 2 30 N, 112 30 E

Map references: Southeast Asia

total: 329,750 sq km
land : 328,550 sq km
water: 1,200 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico

Land boundaries:
total: 2,669 km
border countries: 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 the depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kinabalu 4,100 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 12%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 68%
other : 17% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 3,400 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: flooding, landslides

Environment - current issues: air pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Desertification

Geography - note: strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea


Population: 20,491,303 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 36% (male 3,776,400; female 3,587,445)
15-64 years: 60% (male 6,153,173; female 6,171,287)
65 years and over: 4% (male 350,523; female 452,475) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.15% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 26.94 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 5.43 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth : 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population : 1.01 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 23.2 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population : 70.06 years
male: 67.08 years
female: 73.22 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.4 children born/woman (1997 est.)

noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian

Ethnic groups: Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 26%, Indian 7%, others 9%

Religions: 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%

Languages: 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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.5%
male: 89.1%
female : 78.1% (1995 est.)


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

Data code: MY

Government 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 Government; powers of state governments are limited by the 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

National 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 TUANKU JA'AFAR ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman (since 26 April 1994) and Deputy Paramount Ruler Sultan TUNKU SALAHUDDIN Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan 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 among the members of Parliament
elections: paramount ruler and deputy paramount ruler elected by and from the hereditary rulers of nine of the states for five-year terms; election last held 4 February 1994 (next to be held NA 1999); prime minister appointed by the paramount ruler
election results: TUANKU JA'AFAR ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman elected paramount ruler; percent of vote - NA; Sultan TUNKU SALAHUDDIN Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Hisammuddin Alam Shah elected deputy paramount ruler; percent of vote - NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlimen consists of the Senate or Dewan Negara (69 seats; 43 appointed by the paramount ruler, 26 elected by the state legislatures; elected members serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (192 seats; members elected by popular vote directly weighted toward the rural Malay population to serve five-year terms)
elections : Senate - last held NA April 1995 (next to be held by 2000); House of Representatives - last held 24-25 April 1995 (next to be held by 2000)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - National Front 63%, other 37%; seats by party - National Front 162, DAP 9, PBS 8, PAS 7, Spirit of '46 6

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the paramount ruler

Political parties and leaders:
Peninsular Malaysia: National Front, a confederation of 14 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; major opposition parties are Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Ustaz Fadzil Mohamed NOOR and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), CHEN Man Hin
Sabah : National Front, dominated by the UMNO; Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Datuk YONG Teck Lee; Parti Democratic Sabah (PDS), Bernard DOMPOK; Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Datuk Joseph KURUP
Sarawak: National Front, composed of the Party Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul TAIB Mahmud; Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Datuk Amar Stephen YONG Kuat Tze; Sarawak National Party (SNAP), Datuk Amar James WONG; Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), Datuk Leo MOGGIE; major opposition party is Democratic Action Party (DAP), LIM Kit Siang
note: subsequent to the election, the following parties were dissolved - Spirit of '46 (Semangat '46), Tengku Tan Sri RAZALEIGH, president, and Sabah United Party (Parti Bersatu Sabah, PBS), Datuk Seri Joseph PAIRIN Kitingan

International organization participation: APEC, AsDB, ASEAN, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-15, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, Mekong Group, MINURSO, NAM, OIC, UN, UNAVEM III, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNOMIL, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador DALI Mahmud Hashim
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

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador John R. MALOTT
embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
mailing address: P. O. Box No. 10035, 50700 Kuala Lumpur or American Embassy Kuala Lumpur, APO AP 96535-8152
telephone: [60] (3) 248-9011
FAX : [60] (3) 242-2207

Flag description: 14 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


Economy - overview: The Malaysian economy, a mixture of private enterprise and public management, has posted a remarkable record of 9% average annual growth in 1988-96. This growth has resulted in a substantial reduction in poverty and a marked rise in real wages. In 1996 manufactured goods exports expanded less rapidly than in previous years because of the global slump in electronics; nonetheless, foreign investors continue 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.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $214.7 billion (1996 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 8.2% (1996 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,750 (1996 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 14%
industry: 45%
services: 41% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 3.5% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 8.398 million (1996 est.)
by occupation: manufacturing 25%, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries 21%, local trade and tourism 17%, services 12%, government 11%, construction 8% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 2.6% (1996 est.)

revenues: $22.6 billion
expenditures: $22 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.3 billion (1996 est.)

Industries: 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

Industrial production growth rate: 12% (1994)

Electricity - capacity: 7.83 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 37.85 billion kWh (1994)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 1,983 kWh (1995 est.)

Agriculture - products: Peninsular Malaysia - natural rubber, palm oil, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconut, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper; timber

total value: $84.6 billion (1996)
commodities: electronic equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles
partners : US 21%, Singapore 20%, Japan 12%, Hong Kong 5%, UK 4%, Thailand 4%, Germany 3% (1995)

total value: $83.2 billion (1996)
commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, food
partners: Japan 27%, US 16%, Singapore 12%, Taiwan 5%, Germany 4%, South Korea 4% (1995)

Debt - external: $27.5 billion (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $45 million (1993)

Currency: 1 ringgit (M$) = 100 sen

Exchange rates: ringgits (M$) per US$1 - 2.4914 (January 1997), 2.5158 (1996), 2.5044 (1995), 2.6243 (1994), 2.5741 (1993), 2.5474 (1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 2,550,957 (1992 est.)

Telephone system: international service good
domestic: good intercity service provided on Peninsular Malaysia mainly by microwave radio relay; adequate intercity microwave radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; domestic satellite system with 2 earth stations
international: submarine cables to India, Hong Kong and Singapore; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 28, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 8.08 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 33

Televisions: 2 million (1993 est.)


total: 1,806 km (Peninsular Malaysia 1,672 km; Sabah 134 km; Sarawak 0 km)
narrow gauge: 1,806 km 1.000-m gauge (Peninsular Malaysia 1,672 km; Sabah 134 km)

total: 93,975 km
paved: 70,481 km (including 575 km of expressways)
unpaved: 23,494 km (1995 est.)

Waterways: 7,296 km (Peninsular Malaysia 3,209 km, Sabah 1,569 km, Sarawak 2,518 km)

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

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

Merchant marine:
total: 299 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,904,915 GRT/5,860,095 DWT
ships by type: bulk 51, cargo 103, chemical tanker 16, combination bulk 3, container 35, liquefied gas tanker 16, oil tanker 62, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 5, short-sea passenger 1, vehicle carrier 6 (1996 est.)

Airports: 106 (1996 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 99
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m : 6
under 914 m: 73 (1996 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 6 (1996 est.)

Heliports: 2 (1996 est.)


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

Military manpower - military age: 21 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 5,280,741 (1997 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 3,201,235 (1997 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 184,351 (1997 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $2.5 billion (1997)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.6% (1997)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: 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

Illicit drugs: transit point for Golden Triangle heroin going to Western markets despite severe penalties for drug trafficking