Malaysia Facts for Kids
Here are some interesting Malaysia facts which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.
- Population: 32.6 million people (2020)
- Capital: Kuala Lumpur with about 8 million inhabitants, the administrative capital, however, is Putrajaya with less than 100,000 inhabitants!
- Name: Malaysia
- Motto: 'Unity is Strength'
- Government: Constitutional monarchy. Federation of 13 states and three territories. The country also has a king who is elected every five years.
- Language: Malay (Bahasa Malaysia)
- Religion: mainly Islam (60%). There are also Buddhists (20%), Christians (9%) and Hindu (6%)
- Literacy: 93% of the population 15 years and above can read or write
- Currency: 1 Ringgit = 100 sen
- History: Signs of human settlements on the Malay Peninsula date back more than 40,000 years. The first settlers arrived from China and India around the first century AD. In the 15th century Portuguese conquered port towns such as Melaka, after this the Dutch established their rule. In the late 17th century the British ruled in the area with main settlements in Melaka, Penang and Singapore. During the second world war the Japanese invaded the country and occupied the area for three years. Malaysia gained independence in 1963.
- National Day: 31 August
- National Symbols: Malayan tiger (national animal), hibiscus (national flower), gold and black (national colours)
- National Anthem: Negaraku which means 'My Country'
The country is located on the Asian continent, more specifically Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. Malaysia consists of two regions:
- Peninsular Malaysia is linked to Singapore by a causeway and a bridge.
- East Malaysia is on the island of Borneo and consists of two states: Sabah and Sarawak.
Malaysia has four neighbouring countries. These are:
- Thailand is located to the north,
- Indonesia on the island of Borneo
- Brunei on the island or Borneo
- and Singapore is located to the south
Malaysia is slightly larger in area than the state of New Mexico/USA or slightly larger than Norway.
Flying from London/UK to Kuala Lumpur takes around 13 hours and from New York/USA about 21 hours.
- Malaysia has 13 states, the biggest state called 'Sarawak' and the smallest is 'Perlis'.
- Malaysia has hundreds of islands along the coastline. Pulau Langkawi is the biggest island of the country. Pulau means island in Malaysian.
- Malaysia's highest point is Mount Kinabalu, which is on the island of Borneo. Mount Kinabalu is 4,095 m/ 13,435 ft high.
- The longest river is the Rajang river with 563 km/ 350 ft.
- Malaysia's Mulu Caves on the island of Borneo are one of the largest cave systems in the world and is home to millions of bats and swiftlets.
Clearwater Cave is part of the Mulu Caves System
- There are four UNESCO world heritage sites in Malaysia among them the towns of Melaka (also referred to as Malacca) and Georgetown (also called Penang). Find out more about the heritage sites here.
- The Rafflesia is the world's largest and heaviest flower. The rafflesia arnoldii can grown up to 1 m/3 ft in diameter and can weigh up to 10 kg/22 lb! It is often called ‘The Monster Flower’ as it is so big and has a foul odour that attracts insects. The huge red flower with five petals does not have a stem, leaves or even roots, but is a parasite growing on a host vine. The Rafflesia is named after explorer Stamford Raffles and was first discovered by Joseph Arnold in 1818.
Rafflesia - image by Herrieynaha
- Malaysia lies close to the equator and thus has an equatorial climate with two rainy seasons. The humidity is very high.
- Singapore is linked to Johor Bahru/Malaysia by a 26 km/ 16 miles long bridge.
Aerial view of Johor Bahru
Tourist Attractions in Malaysia
- Kuala Lumpur: the capital city with its historic colonial buildings and the buzzing markets, botanical gardens and the luxurious shopping malls. The famous Petronas Twin Towers provide the tourists a bird’s eye view of the city. You can also visit the old railway station and the Sultan Abdul Samad building which is has a 40 m/ 131 ft high clock tower.
Kuala Lumpur's former court building
- Borneo's Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia. The two- or three-day trek up the mountain can be undertaken by adventurous families who come prepared. Read more.
- Penang, also called Georgetown is known as the food capital of Malaysia. The local Nonya cuisine, which includes Chinese and Malay cooking traditions is well worth a visit. The historic city with its British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and modern graffiti paintings is a must-see.
Read more about Penang as seen by our writing competition winner from 2017 here.
- Langkawi: The archipelago of 99 islands is located off the Malaysian north-western coastline, close also to the southernmost region of Thailand. Only four islands of the archipelago are inhabited. The main island Pulau Langkawi is known for its cable car, skybridge and beautiful beaches.
Langkawi Sky Bridge
- Cameron Highlands: these lush green rolling hills with tea plantations are located on a plateau in central Malaysia, roughly 200 km/ 120 miles north of Kuala Lumpur. This is one of the favourite tourist destinations in Malaysia due to its mild and cool climate, abundant wildlife and rainforests.
- Malacca: This city is famous for their historical significance such as the ancient collections at Baba & Nyonya Heritage. Besides, The Stadthuys and A Famosa. Not forgetting their renowned Jonker Street which has wide array of stalls selling many interesting items.
Then there are the other beautiful hills and mountain resorts such as Fraser Hill and Maxwell Hill or the attractive beaches along with exotic islands like Tioman Island, Batu Ferringhi and Sipadan Island.
The economy in Malaysia is mainly driven by the rubber and palm oil industries, as well as petroleum and natural gas production. Agricultural products include palm oil, cocoa and rice. The tourism sector is also dominant in many regions.
Singapore, China, the USA and Japan are the country's main export and import partners.
Malaysia exports mainly palm oil, petroleum and liquefied natural gas as well as electrical appliances, wood products and textiles. It mainly imports electronics, plastics, vehicles and machinery.
Modern Kuala Lumpur - image by Andrey Paltzev
Major Malaysia cities are Kuala Lumpur its twin sister Petaling Jaya and others such as Georgetown, Ipoh, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu.
Malaysia People and Languages
Malaysia is a multiracial country with a rich cultural heritage. Almost 60% of the population are Malay or indigenous people. About 21% are Chinese and 6% are Indian.
The majority of Malaysians (80%) live on the Peninsula which only occupies only about 40% of the land area. Malaysian cities are modern and also have shiny tall skyscrapers.
Ipoh in central Malaysia
However, people in rural Malaysia are still often quite poor and only have access to basic facilities such as markets instead of shopping malls. Healthcare is also poor in many places with few clinics in larger villages or towns.
The population in rural East Malaysia lives in typical long houses.
Typical Longhouse in Borneo
Almost 44% of all Malaysians are under 24 years of age. Malaysian children go to primary school from 7 years of age and then attend school for up to 13 years until their final exams. Most kids, however, already take part in pre-school classes from the age of three.
Malaysian schoolkids - image by Sonya SooYon
The majority of Malaysians are Sunni Muslims. The second largest mosque in Malaysia is the beautiful Blue Mosque in Shah Alam in Malaysia. The mosque is called Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque and known for its blue dome.
Blue Mosque in Shah Alam
This mosque is the one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia! Shah Alam is a city near Kuala Lumpur. The largest mosque in Malaysia is the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque which also known as Iron Mosque. This mosque is located in Putrajaya. The largest mosque in Southeast Asia is located in Jakarta in Indonesia.
Languages in Malaysia
People in Malaysia usually communicate in Bahasa Melayu. This is Malaysia’s national language and also as known as Bahasa Malaysia. And more than 112 indigenous languages are spoken in Malaysia! The most common indigenous language is Iban.
Besides English, many people speak a Chinese language (such as Hokkien or Cantonese). Tamil, Telugu as well as Thai are also spoken in the northern parts of the country. Malay and English are compulsory languages in public schools. In high schools also Mandarin (Simplified Chinese) or Tamil classes are usually taught.
Food in Malaysia
Bananas, coconuts, cocoa, pineapples and rice are the main agricultural products in Malaysia.
Most Malaysian dishes contain: rice (called nasi) or noodles (mee), coconut, shell fish and beef, chicken, peanuts and chill.
Typical Malaysian Food
Here are some typical Malaysian foods and dishes:
- Nasi Lemak: coconut rice (rice that has been cooked in coconut milk) with boiled egg, vegetables, curried meat such as chicken or beef and sambal (chilli sauce)
- Mee Goreng: Yellow fried noodle dish with chili and soy sauce and fried vegetables as well as beef or chicken strips and sometimes shrimps are added in as well.
- Beef Rendang: beef stewed in curried coconut milk and lots of spices, usually served with rice
- Asam Laksa: spicy fish stew with rice noodles and tamarind
- Murtabak: fried and folded pancake which is filled with minced meat and vegetables
- Roti John: flat pancake sandwich filled with minced meat, eggs and cheese - typical street vendor or hawker centre food
- Ice Kacang: shaved ice topped with sugary syrup in various bright colours - usually sits on a mount of red bean jelly and served with various fruits. Very sweet but delicious. It comes in many flavours!
- Rojak: fruit and vegetable mix served as salad or even in fried dough parcels that are filled with the mixed fruits and vegetables such as pineapples and cucumbers
- Goreng pisang: deep fried banana fritters sprinkled with sugar
Read more about great Malaysian recipes here
Malays usually use forks and knives when eating. It is also custom to use the right hand which is tradition with Indian Malaysians too, while Chinese Malaysians eat with chopsticks.
Malaysia is among the seventeen megadiverse countries. This means there is extremely high biodiversity in Malaysia.
Orang-Utan in Borneo
The Borneo Orang-Utan is among the most fascinating species in the world. Orang-Utans are the largest mammals that live in the tree canopies of the tropical rainforests in Malaysia’s Borneo or Indonesia’s Sumatra.
The Malayan tiger also inhabits the southern parts of the Malaysian Peninsula and a critically endangered species. The tiger is threatened by poaching and other human activities such as deforestation.
Malaysia Facts: Did you know…?
The island of Borneo is not only the largest island in Asia, but the third largest island in the world!
The Malaysian part of Borneo is smaller than the Indonesian part as it covers less than ⅓ of the island. The country of Brunei is surrounded by Malaysia and is the third country sharing the island.
Map of the island of Borneo
Resources and Further Reading
Resources for Malaysia Facts:
- Central Intelligence Agency. "Malaysia." WorldFactbook. Last updated 18 November 2020. last accessed 20 November 2020
- World Wildlife Fund. "Malayan Tiger." WWF. Last accessed 20 November 2020
- "MuluCaves." MuluCaves. Last accessed 20 November 2020
- Bee. "Malaysian Recipes." RasaMalaysia. Last accessed 20 November 2020
Special Thanks go to Maya Vardhini Rajanikanth from St. Andrews School in Bangkok/Thailand, Harshinee Marzammutu from SJKT Mahanganesa Viddyasalai in Perak, Kugharuban R. Vamadevan from SJKT Kulim Kedah, Hong Jee Ning, Ho Rou Xuan and Seng Thing Xuan from Ruby’s English Language Corner Taman Perling, Varrnika Mogan from SJKT Sentul in Kuala Lumpur and Nicole Angela from Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Mukah in Sarawak.
Image Credits on Malaysia Facts: shutterstock.com and wikicommons, if not otherwise stated.
Please take note: We will add more information in the coming weeks when we will organised some new pages for the Malaysia country information received from several schools in the last competition.
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