Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Malaysia Overview

An Overview Of Malaysia
By Alix Sunggin

Kuala Lumpur SkylineDespite its recent economic crisis, Malaysia continues to careen along the fast track of development. For visitors, this means that Malaysia is a comfortable country to explore, as the roads are smooth, public transportation is good and familiar comforts abound in all but the smallest of kampungs (villages).

For centuries, Malaysia has been a crossroads for trade in materials, traditions, and ideas. The region was originally settled by the Orang Asli people and migrants from southern China; Indian traders subsequently spread their cultural and religious traditions throughout the area. Islam took root there during the 15th century, when Prince Sri Paremeswara who founded the empire of Melaka became a Muslim after marrying a Sumatran ruler's daughter. In 1511, the Portuguese invaded Melaka, only to lose power to the Dutch in the late 1600s. The Dutch maintained control of the region for almost three centuries, until the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1874 ceded the Malaysian kingdom states to the British. On August 31 1957, the Peninsula was granted independence as the Federated States of Malaya. Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak joined the Federated States of Malaya, which became Malaysia in 1963. Then Singapore assumed independence in 1965, leaving the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak as the Malaysia that remains today.

Batu Caves MalaysiaTravellers seeking both relaxation and the stimulation of a different culture will find that Malaysia offers the perfect mix of serene coastline and spicy street life. Though Malaysia's beaches are not the most spectacular in Southeast Asia, stretches of coastline on the peninsula's east coast, as well as on islands such as Pangkor and the Pehrentians, offer seaside seclusion that is difficult to find in other parts of the world. Away from the lapping tides, the streets of Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur pulse with the energy of big-city life. Open air markets attract throngs of people seeking fresh fruit and vegetables. Hawkers at sidewalk stalls dish out tasty pan fried food like nasi kandar (curry rice) and ormee goreng (spicy noodles). There is also a spiritual flavour to the city streets. Islamic mosques stand beside Hindu and Buddhist temples, bearing testimony to the intertwined history of these Eastern religions.

Lek Lok Si Penang IslandMalaysia is a country on the move. Its official mission is to become industrialised by the year 2020. But despite the rapid pace of its growth, Malaysia will likely keep its welcoming atmosphere, as the warmth of the people is as unchanging as the tropical weather. The population is a diverse mix of ethnic Malay (58 percent), Chinese (26 percent), and southern Indian (eight percent). Though tensions exist, fomented by blatantly pro-Malay policies enacted by the majority government, interactions among ethnic groups remain remarkably open and peaceful.

About the Author
Alix Sunggin is webmaster of Business Health Articles and Malaysia Travel Agent.

Kuala Lumpur Skyline
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Kek Lok Si, Penang Island

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