About Malaysia

Early morning mist on river, Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia.

South China Sea's tiger

In the heart of Southeast Asia, centuries of Malay, Arab, Indian, Chinese and European influences have given rise to a country with one foot on the island of Borneo and the other on the Asian mainland.
From kingdom to sultanates, and from sultanates to states, Malaysia has grown into a dynamic federation with an active role in regional and international politics and trade.

Geography & climate

Malaysia has 2 distinct parts. The Western part is located on the Southeast Asian peninsula and the Eastern part on the north and northeastern parts of Borneo. The South China Sea separates both areas.

Malaysia is a country of coastal plains and densely forested hills and mountains, peaking at 4,095m with Mount Kinabalu on the island of Borneo. The climate is equatorial, with annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons.


A tropical equatorial location has bestowed Malaysia with lowland and montane forests, coastal mangroves and peat swamps. On the Malay Peninsula, species include gaur, tapir, elephants, tigers, great hornbills, and bearded pigs.

The northern part of Borneo, which forms East Malaysia, has orangutans, proboscis monkeys, Bornean ‘pygmy’ elephants and Bulwer’s pheasants.

Malaysia’s natural resources, such as rubber, palm oil, timber, cocoa, tin and petroleum are some of the country’s major exports.

Population and religion

The Malay peninsula’s strategic trade location has attracted many ethnic groups over the centuries.

In addition to the politically dominant Malays, who make up the majority of the population, about 30% of the population consists of Malaysians of Chinese descent, followed by Malaysians of Indian descent.

Various non-Malay groups are indigenous, mostly in East Malaysia, making up about 7% of the population.

The four main religions are Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism.
 / ©: WWF-Malaysia/ Stephen Hogg
There are about 1,500 Borneo pygmy elpehants in Sabah.
© WWF-Malaysia/ Stephen Hogg

Economy & Development

In 1970s, Malaysia made a transition from a reliance on mining and agriculture to an economy based more on manufacturing. In the 1980s and 90s, the country consistently achieved more than 7% GDP growth, coupled with low inflation.

Although the pace of development today in Malaysia is not as fast, it is seen to be more sustainable. This growth has delivered "impressive and steady" achievements on poverty reduction, with Malaysia performing well on problems such as maternal mortality, infant mortality and enrollment in secondary schools.
 / ©: WWF
What are the problems?
 / ©: WWF
What is WWF doing about the problems?

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