Malaysia Travel Information

Photo Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a merging of the former British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, including the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo. The first several years of the country's history were marred by Indonesian efforts to control Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's secession in 1965.


Malaysia's population of 24.5 million (2002) continues to grow at a rate of 2.2% per annum; about 33.5% of the population is under the age of 15. Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the politically dominant Malays comprising a majority. By constitutional definition, all Malays are Muslim. About a quarter of the population is Chinese who have historically played an important role in trade and business.


In the first century AD, two far-flung but related events helped stimulate Malaysia's emergence in international trade in the ancient world. At that time, India had two principal sources of gold and other metals: the Roman Empire and China. The overland route from China was cut by marauding Huns, and at about the same time, the Roman Emperor Vespasian cut off shipments of gold to India. As a result, India sent large and seaworthy ships, with crews reported to have numbered in the hundreds, to Southeast Asia, including the Malayan Peninsula, to seek alternative sources.


The Malaysian economy rebounded from a sharp recession in 1998 when real GDP contracted by 7.4% in 1998. The economy grew 6.1% in 1999 and a strong 8.3% in 2000, led by rapid growth in exports, particularly of electronics and electrical products, to the United States, Malaysia's principal trade and investment partner. When the U.S. economy began to slow in late 2000, Malaysian exports declined, and the Malaysian economy slowed dramatically.


The United States has maintained friendly relations with Malaysia since its independence in 1957. Despite sometimes strident rhetoric, the United States and Malaysia have a record of cooperation in many areas, including trade and investment, defense, counter-terrorism, and counter-narcotics.

Important: Travel to Malaysia may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Malaysia visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Kuala Lumpur
Area: 329,847 sq km
Population: 29,179,952
Ethnic groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8%
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia
Religions: Muslim
Government: constitutional monarchy
Chief of State: King - Tuanku ABDUL HALIM Mu'adzam Shah
Head of Government: Prime Minister NAJIB Razak
GDP: 463.7 billion
GDP per captia: 16,200
Annual growth rate: 5.1%
Inflation: 3.2%
Agriculture: Peninsular Malaysia - palm oil, rubber, cocoa, rice
Major industries: Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing
Natural resources: tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam
Trade Partners - exports: China 13.1%, Singapore 12.7%, Japan 11.5%, US 8.3%, Thailand 5.1%, Hong Kong 4.5%, India 4.1%
Trade Partners - imports: China 13.2%, Singapore 12.8%, Japan 11.4%, US 9.7%, Indonesia 6.1%, Thailand 6%, South Korea 4%