Malaysia is located in Southeastern Asia with a peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo. It also borders Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Its geographic coordinates are 2 30 N, 112 30 E. The capital city of Kuala Lumpur is located on the western island and the entire country has a total area of 204,957 square miles (329,847 sq km) with 204,218 square miles (328,657 sq km) being land and 739 square miles (1,190 sq km) being water. The entire coastline of the country totals 2,905 miles (4,675 km) with 1,285 miles (2,068 km) belonging to Peninsular Malaysia and 1620 miles (2,607 km) belonging to East Malaysia. Starting at the coast and moving inland, the terrain is plains rising to hills and mountains.
Once only inhabited by the indigenous tribes of the island, what is now known as Malaysia was soon discovered and populated by the Malay, a group of people from mainland Asia. Once trade began, Chinese and Indian merchants and settlers increased their influence on the society. Eventually, migrants from Persia and Arabic countries, as well as Britain, made their way to Malaysian shores bringing their food, arts, and religions along with them. Though there is a cultural divide between the distinct groups of current natives, there inevitably has been some crossing of cultures.
Malaysia is a middle-income country that relies rather heavily on tourism and manufacturing. 11% of the labor force works in agriculture while 53% have service jobs. The remaining 36% work in industry. The unemployment rate is around 3.3% with a relatively low 3.8% falling below the poverty line.
- 38,000 BCE - modern humans inhabit island
- 1000 CE - Traders and settlers from China and India establish trading posts and coastal towns
- 1300 CE - Islam spreads among the island of Malay
- 1400 CE - Parameswara establishes the Malacca Sultanate, an important commercial center.
- 1511 CE - Meleka conquered by Portugal
- 1641 CE - Meleka conquered by Holland
- 1786 CE - Britain establishes presence on the island
- 1824 CE - in a treaty, Britain takes control of Melaka
- 1946 CE - territories of Peninsular Malaysia unified as the Malayan Union
- 1948 CE - construction of Federation of Malaya
- 1963 CE - Malaya unites with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore and becomes Malaysia