Malaysia

Located in southeastern Asia, Malaysia is an island nation that forms a part of the Malay Peninsula to the west and part of the island of Borneo to the east. The South China Sea separates both areas.

Most of the country is marked by coastal plains and mangrove forests and densely forested hills and mountains; Mt Kinabalu on the island of Borneo is the highest peak at 4095m. On the Malay Peninsula, species include gaur, tapir, elephants and tigers. The northern part of Borneo has orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants.

Deforestation is a major environmental problem facing the country as well as air pollution from industrial waste and car emissions and water pollution from raw sewage. Landslides, flooding, and smoke and haze from Indonesian forest fires have also been a problem.
 / ©: Edward PARKER
Dawn over tropical rainforest, Northern Malaysia.
© Edward PARKER

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Malaysia is dependent mostly on oil and natural gas but is increasingly turning to such renewable energies as biomass (palm oil and rice husks), solar and hydropower.
  • Tap water in most Malaysian cities is generally considered safe to drink, but it is still advisable to boil water before drinking or to drink bottled water.
 
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Transport
  • Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM), or Malayan Railways, has a rail network that stretches from north to south and east to west in Peninsular Malaysia. In Sabah, a line connects from Kota Kinabalu through rainforests to Tenom. There are also connections to both Singapore and Bangkok.
  • Buses are the most popular form of transport in Malaysia. Air-conditioned express buses and non-air-conditioned regional buses are available from Kuala Lumpur to many other towns in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • Ferry services also operate from Malaysia to Thailand, Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Batam and Sumatra. Within Malaysia there are regular ferry services to and from main destinations like Penang, Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah to Langkawi, Lumut to Pangkor and from various points on the east coast to the offshore islands of Tioman, Perhentian, Redang and the Johor islands.
  • Trishaws (bicycle rickshaws) are slowly being phased out in many places but are still a popular way to tour in Melaka, Georgetown, Kota Bahru and Kuala Terengganu.
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Food
  • Indigenous Malaysian cuisine has been influenced by Chinese, Indian, Thai and many other cultures.
  • Rice is an integral element in most Malay meals. Nasi lemak, rice cooked in coconut milk, is a popular Malay dish.
  • Most Malaysian food can not be eaten without some spices and makes use of herbs such as lemon grass, daun kemangi (a type of basil), nutmeg, bunga kantan (wild ginger buds) and pandan (screwpine) leaves.
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Souvenirs
  • Looking for an unusual memento of your trip to Malaysia? Butterflies in a glass case? Keep in mind that many butterfly species are protected and must have permits to be imported into most countries.
  • Souvenirs made from stony corals also require permits before bringing them home.
  • Watch out for traditional Oriental medicines containing tiger bone and parts of other endangered species.
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Green Spots
  • Taman Negara National Park: Situated in the centre of Peninsular Malaysia, this is Malaysia’s largest national park and one of the largest protected areas in Southeast Asia. The rainforests are home to a number of rare animals, including the Indochinese tiger, Sumatran rhino, Malayan gaur and the Asian elephant. The highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia - Mount Tahan - is located within the park.
  • Turtle Islands Park (Taman Negara Pulau Penyuh): Made up of three islands in the Sulu Sea off the eastern coast of Sabah on the Malaysian part of Borneo Island, this marine park is a safe haven for the endangered green and hawksbill marine turtles. Both species of turtles lay eggs throughout the year, but the best months to visit the nesting sites are from July to October.
  • Penang National Park: Located on Penang Island off the northwest coast of mainland Peninsular Malaysia, this is the country’s smallest national park. Despite its size, it features unique habitats, which include wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches.
  • Similajau National Park: Located on the Sarawak coasts on the island of Borneo, Similajau is known for its sandy beaches bordered by dense green forest. The park is home to three primates: gibbons, banded langurs and long-tailed macaques. One can also find wild boar, civets and barking deer as well as 185 bird species, notably seven species of hornbills.
  • Bako National Park: Covering 2,742 hectares of a rugged sandstone peninsula to the east of the Bako River near Kuching - the capital of Sarawak on the island of Borneo - this park is known for its beach forests, mangrove swamps and nearly every plant found on Borneo. Wildlife includes the rare proboscis monkey, silver-leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques and monitor lizards.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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