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General Information

•Malaysia 

Population

21,793,293

Capital

Kuala Lumpur

Ethnic Groups

Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 26%, Indian 7%, others 9%

Currency Exchange

1 One dollar to 3.8 ringgit

Religions

Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia

-With 1957's independence, a new series of difficult decisions lay ahead of Malaya, the first of which was to determine exactly what territories would be included in the new state. In 1961, the term "Malaysia" came into being after Tunku convinced Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak to join Malaya in a federal union (Singapore later opted out of the union, peacefully, in 1965). Afraid that the union would interfere with his expansionistic plans, Indonesia's president Sukharno launched attacks against Malaysia in Borneo and on the peninsula, all of which were unsuccessful.

Another immediate problem was the determination of a national identity. Malaysia was a mix of people from many races and cultures, and uniting them under a common flag was not an easy enterprise. Because Malays represented the majority, the constitution gave them permanent spots in the government, made Islam the national religion, and made Malay the national language; but the Chinese firmly dominated business and trade, and most Malay were suffering economic hardships. The government, controlled by the United Malay National Organization, passed the New Economic Policy, which attempted to increase economic opportunity for the Malay by establishing various quotas in their favor. Unsurprisingly, many Chinese opposed the new arrangement and formed a significant opposition party. In 1969, after the opposition party won a significant seats, riots swept through Kuala Lumpur and the country was placed in a state of emergency for two years. It was a painful moment in the young nation's history that most Malaysians prefer to forget. 

In the last two decades, Malaysia has undergone tremendous growth and prosperity, and has arguably made significant progress in race relations. Many attribute the country's success to the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammed, who has led the country since 1981. 

For a more detailed history of the entire Malaysian culture, visit: http://www.geographia.com/malaysia/.

•Kuala Lumpur  -Kuala Lumpur is situated midway along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombek rivers. It is approximately 35 km from the coast and sits at the centre of the Peninsula's extensive and modern transportation network. Kuala Lumpur is easily the largest city in the nation, possessing a population of over one and a half million people drawn from all of Malaysia's many ethnic group

More than any other spot in the country, Kuala Lumpur, or "KL" as it is commonly known, is the focal point of new Malaysia. While the city's past is still present in the evocative British colonial buildings of the Dataran Merdeka and the midnight lamps of the Petaling Street night market, that past is everywhere met with insistent reminders of KL's present and future. The city's bustling streets, its shining, modern office towers, and its cosmopolitan air project an unbounded spirit of progress and symbolize Malaysia's unhesitating leap into the future. To some, this spirit seems to have been gained at the loss of ancient cultural traditions, but in many ways KL marks the continuation rather than the loss of Malaysia's rich past. Like Malacca five hundred years before, KL's commercial centre is a grand meeting place for merchants and travelers from all over the world.

•Sabah  -One of two Malaysian jungle states in Borneo and a land of adventure and natural wonder. Home to Mount Kinabalu, orangutans, proboscis monkeys and the world famous Sipadan island - all easily organized and incredibly rewarding

•Sabah Sipadan Island  -Long before anyone donned scuba diving equipment and jumped into the water, Pulau Sipadan was already recognized as something special. Above the waterline the island is only 30 acres (12 hectares) in area and is covered by untouched rainforest. In 1933, this tiny island was declared a bird sanctuary and at the end of 2004 was closed to tourists.

As the island is a protected area and a site of outstanding natural beauty, we urge you to behave responsibly when you visit, and make sure to control your buoyancy when diving. There is a National Park levy of US$ 11 per person entrance fee.

•Mabul  -The Mabul Island has historically played a supporting role its famous neighbor in Sabah, Sipadan Island. Now that Sipadan is protected from overnight stays, its profile has greatly increased. Since Mabul is considerably larger than Sipadan, resort owners have been able to construct a much higher standard of accommodation, albeit within the constraints of a remote getaway.

The island is covered in palm trees and fringed with fine beaches. Villagers live next door to the resorts and guests are free to stroll around the island, mingling with the locals. From Mabul, guests are taken the 25 to 30 minutes to Sipadan every day for diving. In addition they can dive the macro-world of Mabul, normally once a day.