TOP-50 interesting facts about Malaysia and Malaysians
Malaysia is a country in south-east Asia that shares many common features with its neighbours. But at the same time, it is a unique country with its own customs, history and culture, in which the traditions of several religions are mixed: Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to form a first impression and interestingly plan your holiday in Malaysia.
50 most amazing facts about Malays and Malaysia
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first people on the territory of Malaysia appeared about 40 thousand years ago. To this era belongs the skull of a 16-year-old girl found in a cave in Borneo.
2. At the turn of our era, the peninsula becomes a place of constant meetings of Indian and Chinese merchants, which contributes to the emergence of the first kingdoms.
3. Until the eleventh century, several kingdoms, mostly Indian or Thai, existed in turn in what is now Malaysia.
4. Since 1136 Muslim sultanates begin to appear here. The oldest of them, the Sultanate of Kedah, has survived to the present day and is now one of the states within Malaysia.
5. In the early 15th century, Portuguese ships appeared in this area and captured the city of Malacca, making it their base in the region.
6. The Malay sultanates allied with the Dutch and expelled the Portuguese, and in the late 18th century British rule was established in the region.
7. During World War II, Malaysia was occupied by Japanese troops.
8. In 1948, the country began an armed war against the British colonisers. It was fought mainly by Malaysians of Chinese origin.
9. Malaysia gained independence in 1957. At one time it even included Singapore.
10. Modern Malaysia is a federal monarchy. It consists of 13 states, 9 of which are monarchies. Seven states are headed by sultans, one by a raja, and the last by Yang Besar, which is the name of the monarch among the Malays.
11. The predominant religion in the country is Islam. Other religions are guaranteed freedom of worship. The heads of the monarchy states are also spiritual leaders.
12. Modern Malaysia consists of two territories – East and West. The Eastern is located in the north of the island of Borneo (Kalimantan), and the Western – on the Malacca Peninsula.
13. The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur. This city was founded in 1857 by the British and for some time was the capital of the state of Selangor. The city became the capital of Malaysia in 1957.
14. Now there are more than 29 million people living in the country. Most of them (60 per cent) are Malays. Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and numerous local aboriginal tribes (Ibani) are also represented.
15. The state language is considered to be Malay. But English remains the second official language, in memory of many decades of British rule.
16. The kingdom has a free public education system. Primary school (6 years of education) is compulsory. Therefore, the level of education in the country is quite high.
17. Malaysia is a developing country, and still an important component of its economy remains rubber production. But it also produces modern electronics and produces oil.
18. The kingdom is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of the number of tourists. Every year about 15 million tourists come here.
19. The country has left-hand traffic and very few foreign cars. Foreign cars here are heavily taxed and therefore considered a luxury.
20. As Malaysia is an Islamic country, the laws are very strict. The death penalty can be imposed on drug distributors, and prostitution is prohibited.
21. The country’s sights begin to reveal themselves to tourists right at Kuala Lumpur Airport. A piece of virgin equatorial forest has been preserved there, where you can walk around while waiting for your flight.
22. The Petronas Twin Towers are considered the symbol of Kuala Lumpur and the whole country. They are connected by a bridge, and on the 83rd floor there is an observation deck.
23. Another attraction of the capital is the Hindu temple of Sri Mahamariammana, one of the largest in the world. It houses a statue of the goddess Parvati, who protects from demons.
24. On Won Men Island there is a unique Crystal Mosque, a masterpiece of modern architecture. It is made of glass, crystal and steel and is lit up with colourful illumination every evening.
25. In Malacca, you can admire the ruins of an ancient Portuguese fort – Famosa Fortress. There are remains of stone walls, gates and guns.
26. Not far from Kuala Lumpur, there is a holy place for Hindus – Batu Caves. It is a whole temple city in the heart of the mountain, to which lead high stone stairs, decorated with golden statues.
27. In Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, there is the world’s largest roundabout intersection. The diameter of its ring is 3.5 kilometres.
28. Another attraction and pride of the country is the Sultan Abdul Halim Shah Bridge, which connects the mainland and Penang Island. It is 24 kilometres long and is the largest bridge in the region.
Character and customs of the Malays
29. Malays are sociable and good-natured people. They smile all the time and are very fond of taking pictures with tourists.
30. One of the important features of the character of locals is a tendency to superstition, imagination. Because of this, many houses in the country do not have a fourth floor. This number is considered unlucky.
31. Superstitions also influence the way of life of the Malays. So, they do not bathe in the sea, because they believe that the water is inhabited by evil monsters and spirits. Only tourists swim on the beach.
32. In August, the Malays celebrate their main mystical holiday – the Day of hungry spirits. Locals try to propitiate the spirits with various offerings and burn special money – Bank of Hell notes.
33. Local shamans – bomo – are honoured and respected. They are invited to all ceremonies and even to competitions, where they fume special incense on the clothes of athletes and bury amulets in the ground.
34. Many customs of the Malays are connected with religious prohibitions. For example, the left hand is considered unclean in the country. It is possible to give something to another person only with the right hand.
35. It is not allowed to point at a person or an object with the index finger, as it is customary in European countries. In Malaysia, the right thumb is used for this purpose.
36. Among the amusing traditions of the Malays is the custom of wearing jackets and shirts turned inside out. This is due to the changeable weather and the tendency to neatness. Having soiled his jacket on the way, a Malay simply turns it out clean.
37. The favourite sporting game of the locals is badminton. Malaysia is one of the leaders in this sport.
38. Malaysians are very responsible in choosing a name for a child. Often this event turns into a whole performance. Thus, in some regions of the country there is a custom, according to which a rooster chooses a name for a baby. In front of the rooster are placed cups of rice, each of which corresponds to a name. Whichever cup the rooster chooses, that is the name of the child.
39. Wedding customs in the country are also very original. Thus, there is a custom to give the newlyweds boiled eggs. The more eggs – the happier their life will be.
40. In other places, there is a tradition that forbids the newlyweds to visit the toilet for three days after the wedding. Because of it, the young people have to fast and not eat or drink anything for the whole period.
41. It is believed that the Malays do not have their own dances and music, that they are all borrowed from the culture of India and other neighbouring countries. This is not quite so. The Malays have their own martial dance, Silat, and their national musical instrument, the Rebana Ubi drum.
42. But the kingdom has its own theatre. It is very unusual, because the main actors in it are two-metre dolls. The performances of this theatre usually acquaint the audience with the history of the country and its traditions.
43. The country does not have its own national cuisine. All dishes are borrowed from Thailand, India and China. The basis of all side dishes is rice, there are few meat dishes, but many fish dishes. Many fruits used by the Malays are not found anywhere else in the world.
44. The national drink in the country is considered to be drawn tea – teh-tarik. It is a tea with milk, which is prepared by pouring from one container to another.
Nature of Malaysia
45. Malaysia is entirely located in the equatorial climate zone, so it is hot and humid all year round, and the temperature difference between seasons is insignificant. Monsoons have a great influence on the weather.
46. The name of the country, Malaysia, translates to “Mountain Country.” Most of both continental and island Malaysia is occupied by fairly high mountains. The highest of them is located in Borneo. It is Mount Kinabalu (4095 metres).
47. Tourists are very popular with routes through the mountains or caves, which there are a great number of. One of the largest caves in the country is Sarawak Grotto in Borneo.
48. Malaysia is famous for its many beautiful islands. One of the most popular among tourists is Langkawi Island in the Andaman Sea. It is part of an archipelago, most of the islands of which are uninhabited.
49. In the forests of the kingdom there is a huge variety of amazing animals. Tigers and leopards, Malayan bears and Sumatran rhinos, orangutans and macaques are neighbours here.
50. Malaysia is home to the largest flower in the world, the Arnold’s Rafflesia. It is a plant that attracts insect pollinators with its cadaverous odour. The flower is over 1 metre in size and can weigh up to 20 kilograms.
Friends, if you know any more interesting facts about Malays and Malaysia, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions, and many people would be happy to learn something new. We will be very grateful to you!