What are true Malaysian customs

The real Asia


Tourism in Malaysia likes to advertise itself with the addition "The True Asia" and in a certain way this is also true, because Malaysia is a melting pot of the most diverse Asian cultures and therefore has something to offer from everything the continent has to offer. It is a colorful and multi-faceted land of contrasts, diversity and the coexistence of the most diverse people and peoples.
Malaysia convinces not only with the limitless friendliness and helpfulness of the population, but also with everything one expects from a tropical travel destination: dense rainforest, endless sandy beaches, picturesque islands, great coral reefs, exotic temples of various religions and of course not to forget that diverse food. Perhaps that is precisely why it is one of the most unusual and rewarding travel destinations of our time.


Surface: 329,758 km²
Residents: about 27 million
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Official languages: Bahasa Melayu (Malaysian)
Currency: Ringgit (MYR)
Time: CET +7 hours; CEST +6 hours


Malaysia basically consists of two parts - the western part on the Malay Peninsula and the eastern part on the island of Borneo about 650 km away - both of which are separated from each other by the South China Sea. West Malaysia forms the southern tip of the Asian continent and is bounded in the north by the border with Thailand and in the south by the border with the city-state of Singapore, located on an offshore island. East Malaysia (consisting of the two states Sarawak and Sabah) borders on Indonesia to the south and encloses the Sultanate of Brunei in the north. The area on the mainland is crossed by a mountain system from northwest to southeast, the highest point being Mount Gunong Tahan (2,190 m). The coastal plains stretches on both sides of this mountain range, is crossed by rivers because of the high rainfall of the northeast monsoon and also includes numerous swamp areas. Off the west coast are the islands of Pangkor, Penang and the Lankawi archipelago, which consists of 99 smaller islands; near the east coast, Tioman, Redang, Perhentian and Rawa rise from the sea. Malaysia has a similar landscape in the west as in the east and Sarawak and Sabah also consist of coastal flatlands and inland of mountain ranges. In Sabah, the highest mountain in Malaysia can be found with Mount Kinabalu (4,101 m).

Malaysia is located in the middle of the equatorial zone and the climate is hot and humid all year round, temperatures rarely drop below 20 ° C even at night and usually climb to over 30 ° C during the day. The country's climate is mainly characterized by the monsoon, i.e. from April to October by the southwest monsoon and from October to February by the northeast monsoon. However, only the east coast of the peninsula has a real rainy season. The wettest season on the west coast of the peninsula is between September and December, on the east coast and in Sabah and Sarawak between October and February. The associated abundant rainfall exceeds 2,000 mm per year and 5,000 mm in the monsoon-exposed areas in the northeast, which include Sarawak, Sabah, and Borneo. However, it rarely rains all day, rather the rain usually falls in short, heavy downpours. The best time to travel to the west of the Malay Peninsulas is from October to March. During this time, however, the north-east consumption brings abundant rainfall to the east (including the island of Borneo). Thus, the summer months from May to September are the ideal travel time for the east coast of Malaysia including the states of Sarawak and Sabah.

The southern Chinese ancestors of the Malays came to the country more than 3000 years ago. As trade between China and India picked up, the Malay Peninsula became a major trading center in Southeast Asia. The first Malay kingdoms emerged from ports established in the 10th century. The most important early kingdoms were Langkasuka and Lembah Bujang in Kedah, as well as Beruas and Gangga Negara in Perak and Pan Pan in Kelantan. With the arrival of Islam at the beginning of the 15th century, the Sultanate of Malacca was founded and its prosperity attracted the interest of the colonial powers. The Portuguese, Dutch and English tried to gain a foothold here and in the end it was the English who founded the Singapore trading post in 1819 and gradually gained control over the rest of the peninsula. After the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, Malacca had finally fallen into British possession and in 1826 the British crown colony Straits Settlements was founded, to which Penang also belonged in addition to Malacca and Singapore. The colony was ruled by the British East India Company, based in Calcutta, until its headquarters were moved to London in 1867. At about the same time, British policy towards the Malay states became increasingly aggressive. Within a few years, several Malay states on the west coast of the peninsula came under British control. With the Treaty of Pangkor in 1874 the way was cleared for British rule. In 1896 the four sultanates Pahang, Selangor, Perak and Negeri Sembilan were combined to form the Federated Malay States, which were subordinate to the Commissioner of Singapore who was also the governor of the Straits Settlements. The four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu were under the control of Thailand until 1909. The area of ​​today's state of Sabah was a British protectorate that originally belonged to the Sulu Sultanate and was administered by the British North Borneo Company under the name of North Borneo. The vast forest area of ​​Sarawak was the personal property of the British Brooke family, who received the land as a fief from the Sultan of Brunei and ruled it as White Rajas for almost a century. During the Second World War, what is now Malaysia was occupied by Japan. During this time, support for the country's independence from European colonial power grew. The English plans to form a Malay Union were rejected by many Malays. They called for a system that took the wishes of the Malays more into account, excluded Singapore and only provided immigrants with citizenship. Independence was obtained in 1957 under the name of the Malaya Federation. On September 16, 1963, a new federation was founded under the name Malaysia, which included the Malaya Federation and the British crown colonies Singapore (retired in 1965), North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak.

The country is rich in mineral resources and raw materials (tin, rubber, palm oil, crude oil), but has undergone rapid economic development over the past two decades, which has placed the country in the ranks of the emerging economies. From an agricultural raw material supplier in the 1970s, it has become one of the most important trading nations in the field of electronic and IT goods (Malaysia is the world's leading microchip exporter) and is also home to large global corporations with the car manufacturers Perodua and Proton and the oil multinational Petronas. Malaysia is economically and politically one of the most stable countries in Southeast Asia. It is a member of ASEAN, the D-8 and the G-15. As a result of this orientation, the country experienced a fundamental change from a previously majority agricultural state to a technical and capital-intensive industrial location with high development potential. The Asian crisis that began in 1997 also hit Malaysia, but the economy has since recovered and is growing again by around 5 to 6 percent. Malaysia is a managed market economy and aims to achieve the status of an industrialized country by 2020 ("Vision 2020"). For this purpose, five-year plans with budget projects are approved.

Malaysia has a population made up of people from a wide variety of races. About 50% of the population is of Malay descent. There are also Chinese (approx. 24%), Indians (approx. 7%), Sinhalese, Pakistanis and the indigenous population (approx. 11%). The customs and habits of this mixed population have shaped the open Malay culture. As a visitor you will always be welcomed in a friendly and warm manner. The population is not evenly distributed over the national territory of Malaysia, because in the eastern part of Malaysia, i.e. the two states of Sarawak and Sabah located on the island of Borneo, only about 5 million people (approx. 20% of the population of Malaysia) live, the urban population makes 63, 3% of the total population. Islam, to which 60% of the population profess, is the state religion, but the constitutionally enshrined freedom of religion means that all major world religions are represented. However, this religious freedom now only exists in theory. According to the country's constitution, all ethnic Malays are automatically Muslim by birth. You cannot marry people of other faiths, and turning away from Islam is very reluctant and difficult in practice. Muslims are consciously preferred by the state to members of other religions. The Malays, who largely belong to Sunni Islam, are therefore systematically promoted by the government and given preference in the public service.

More than half of the country's area is covered by evergreen tropical rainforest, with the tropical rainforest above 800 m changing into mountain rainforest and finally into cloud forest, which penetrates to heights of 3,500 m. Many orchid species grow wild under the dense jungle or in the treetops of the giants of the jungle. In many areas, however, the rainforest has already been largely destroyed by slash-and-burn farming and timber harvesting. The exploitation of the rainforest is being driven forward in a dramatic way, especially in Sarawak. Alluvial land and mangrove forests are widespread along the coasts. In the more rocky federal states of Borneo, there are also heather and mountain forests. The density of plants and species in the national parks is one of the highest in the world. The animal world is similarly diverse. The lush rainforests of Malaysia are home to many species of birds, insects, and mammals. Monkeys, many species of birds (including the hornbill, which is related to the toucan), butterflies, but also elephants, snakes and big cats can be seen more often. The orangutan, which is one of the most endangered great apes and is under strict protection, still occurs in Borneo.