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Multi cultural Malaysia

Multi cultural Malaysia

Three main populations live in Malaysia; Malays, Chinese and Indians. All populations live together in harmony, though of course there are tensions every now and then but tourists will usually not notice that much of this. Over half of the population is of Malay descent; the Chinese form almost a quarter of the total population. Malaysians of Indian descent form approximately 7% of the population; while all indigenous people combined form about 11% of the total population in Malaysia.

Rafflesia biggest flower in the world


Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants that is made up of 16 known species. The best known of these species is Rafflesia arnoldii, which has the distinction of being the world's largest flower, reaching a diameter of about three feet. The Rafflesia flowers have been found only in Indonesia - on the islands of Sumatra and Java - and Malaysia, in particular in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. All of the known species of Rafflesia are threatened or endangered.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. This goes for the Chinese population in Malaysia too where the day itself is declared a public holiday. For Chinese locals the new year means a new start where they can make new money and attract new businesses. At numerous locations in Malaysia people light fireworks during the celebrations. Chinese New Year is the only day in the year most of the shops are closed for business.

Airport Taxi at KLIA

Airport Taxi at KLIA

Though using the KLIA Express is a quicker way to reach Kuala Lumpur city center, using the airport taxi is a much easier way to reach your destination within Kuala Lumpur. KLIA Express only brings you to KL Sentral while the airport taxi drops you off right in front of your hotel. If you are traveling alone it might be too expensive compared to other options as you pay RM74.30 for a ticket. You can buy tickets for a fixed price at one of the taxi counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Matta travel fair in Malaysia

Matta Fair in Malaysia

Matta Fair (Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents) is the biggest and most popular travel fair in Malaysia. Malaysians do not yet use the internet as the standard way to book their trips and holidays. Many either go to travel offices or they consult their travel agent when they want to go on a trip. Matta Fair is the place for the best bargains; and it can even be interesting for foreign travelers as there usually are great bargains to destinations outside and within Malaysia.

Malaysia population and country demographics

Crowd at a crossing in busy Kuala Lumpur

The population of Malaysia stands at over 28 million in 2012 (details ). Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the Malays at around 50.4% making up the majority and other indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak at 11% around of the population. By constitutional definition, Malays are Muslims who practice Malay customs and culture. Around 23.7% of the population is of Chinese descent, while Malaysians of Indian descent comprises approximately 7.1% of the population. Indians began migrating to Malaysia in the early 19th century. Other Malaysians also include those whose origin, can be traced to the Middle East, Thailand and Indonesia. Europeans and Eurasians mainly include British who settled in Malaysia since colonial times. The population distribution is highly uneven, with some 20 million residents concentrated on the Malay Peninsula, while East Malaysia is relatively less populated.

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Malay or Malaysian

Some people in Malaysia are referred to as Malay, others as Malaysians. What is the difference?

Merdeka celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

Since long time ago Malays were the only inhabitants in Malaya (the former name). When the British arrived in Malaya in the 18th century, they brought Chinese and Indian workers to the area to supply labor needed for tin, rubber and other industries. This is what formed Malaysia; constituted by 3 major ethnics: Malay, Chinese, Indian and some minor ethnics. The census was made in the year of 2000. All the ethnics living in Malaysia are called Malaysian.

Locals dressed in Malaysian flags

Now if you understand the Malaysia's history, you are able to tell the difference between Malay and Malaysian. So Chinese born and living in Malaysia are not called Chinese, neither are Indians born and raised in Malaysia called Indians, appropriately Malay, Chinese and Indian who were born and live in Malaysia are all Malaysian. Addressing a Malaysian as Malay is incorrect. It is easy to make mistakes calling someone in Malaysia Malay (though they are not from Chinese or Indian origin) as there are millions of foreign workers (Philippines, Indonesians, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese and Cambodians) residing in Malaysia.


Islam is the official religion

Malaysian English

The official religion is the Islam. Besides that Buddhism and Hinduism are also commonly practiced in Malaysia. Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language, but due to English influences, almost every Malaysian citizen speaks English. This is a result of the English period. English is also the language of the youth, who think it is 'cool' to talk English with each other (this to great displeasure of the Malaysian government who strongly promotes the Malay language as primary language).


Orang Asli (Original inhabitants)

Original people the Orang Asli

There is also another population that finds residence in Malaysia; the Orang Asli. The meaning of the name Orang Asli is: original inhabitants. There are about 60.000 Orang Asli left, of whom 60% live in the jungle and 40% in inhabited areas. The Orang Asli can be subdivided in three groups: the Senoi, the Proto-Malay and the Negrito. Among these subgroups are many differences. The Negritos live in the north and northeastern part of Malaysia and still mostly live in the jungle. It is suspected that this group immigrated into Malaysia about 10.000 years ago. Their ancestors were hunters and lived in caves. The majority of the Senoi live in the Cameron highlands.

Most of the Senoi work as day-workers on tea plantations. Originally, they are from Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. That was probably about 6000 to 8000 years ago. When you rent a car yourself, and cover the route Kuala Lumpur - Penang, it is nice to visit an 'authentic' Orang Asli village besides visiting the Cameron highlands. You will find a few of these villages just a few miles past the city of Ipoh.


Tribes on Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah)

Dayaks on Borneo

Sarawak has three ethnic groups; the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. These three groups are collectively known as the Dayaks, which means upstream or inland. The Dayaks typically live in longhouses, traditional community homes that can house 20 to 100 families.

The largest ethnic groups in Sabah are the Kadazan Dusun, the Bajau and the Murut. The Kadazan Dusuns form about 30% of the state's population. Years ago, this group consisted of two tribes, but due to language and culture they intermingled. Originally the Kadazan inhabited the valleys, where the Dusun lived in the mountainous areas of Sabah. The Bajaus - often referred to as Sea Gypsies - make up about 15% of the population of Sabah. The Murut (3%) live in the northern parts of Sabah. This ethnic group was the last group to renounce headhunting.

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