Malaysia <<muh LAY zhuh>> is a country in Southeast Asia. It is made up of two regions. These regions lie on opposite sides of the South China Sea and are hundreds of miles apart. One of the regions is on the mainland of Asia on apeninsula <<puh NIHN suh luh>>—a piece of land that sticks out into the ocean. This region is called Peninsular Malaysia. The other region is made up of two states named Sarawak and Sabah. It lies on the northern part of the island of Borneo.
Mountains rise in the center of Peninsular Malaysia. Thick tropical rain forests cover much of this mountainous region. Low swampy plains spread out from the mountains to the coasts. The coastal areas of Sarawak and Sabah are also low and swampy. The inland areas are mountainous and covered with tropical rain forests.
Many kinds of wild animals live in Malaysia. They include civets, deer, elephants, monkeys, tapirs, tigers, and wild oxen. Other animals include such reptiles as cobras, crocodiles, lizards, and pythons. More than 500 kinds of birds live in Malaysia. A wonderful variety of butterflies also live in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s largest groups of people are the Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Each group speaks a different language, and many have different ways of life. Most Malays live in Peninsular Malaysia. Malays farm for a living and live in wooden houses. Malays also make up the most powerful group in Malaysia’s government. Most of Malaysia’s Chinese people live in cities. Malaysia’s Chinese control much of the nation’s money and business. Many of Malaysia’s Chinese work in stores, banks, or business offices.
Resources and products
Malaysia is one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia. Its farmers grow bananas, mangoes, palm oil, pineapples, and rice. They also raise chickens and hogs. The country’s factories make many things.Electronics are among the most important products. Factories also produce cars, chemicals, and food products. Malaysia is an important producer of natural gas, petroleum, rubber, and tin.
In the 1400′s, a group of Malay-speaking people established the kingdom of Melaka. Melaka became a center for spice traders. The Portuguese took over Melaka in 1511, and then the Dutch took control in 1641. The Dutch controlled trade in the area during the 1700′s. In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, the British controlled Sarawak and Sabah and the Malay states on the peninsula. Peninsular Malaysia was called Malaya by the British. Under British rule, the area made a lot of money. Thousands of workers came from India and China to work on the big rubber farms. Malaya gained complete independence from Britain in 1957.
The nation of Malaysia was formed in 1963, when Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and Singapore united. Disagreements soon arose between Singapore and the rest of the nation. Singapore separated from Malaysia and became an independent nation in 1965.