Malaysia is a country unlike any other: Full of promise and fragility. Its history, cultural and religious diversity make it a rich, compelling and surprising land.
In spite of the huge diversity in Malaysia in terms of religion, culture, race, ethnicity and so forth, we've really gone very far in developing this country.
The only reason I left the salon was really to chase these dreams of either being an MTV host or a travel host. I loved the idea of doing something fun and interesting for a living, and that is what got me over to Malaysia.
Ethnics in Malaysia
The demographics of Malaysia are represented by the multiple ethnic groups that exist in the country. Malaysia’s population, according to the 2010 census, is 28,334,000 including non-citizens, which makes it the 42nd most populated country in the world. Of these, 5.72 million live in East Malaysia and 22.5 million live in Peninsular Malaysia.
The population distribution is uneven, with some 79% of its citizens concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia.
Location: Southeastern Asia. Shares borders with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
Population: 32+ million (2019 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8%
Religions:Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8%
Government: constitutional monarchy
Business Culture: Ranked 43rd in the Business Culture Complexity Index™
The Malay language is an Austronesian language spoken not only by Malaysians but all Malay people who reside in the Malay Peninsula, southern Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, central eastern Sumatra, the Riau islands, parts of the coast of Borneo, Cocos, and Christmas Islands in Australia.
It is also very similar to Indonesian, known locally as Bahasa Indonesia. In Malaysia, the language is officially known as Bahasa Malaysia, which translates as the “Malaysian language”. The term, which was introduced by the National Language Act 1967, was predominant until the 1990s when most academics and government officials reverted to “Bahasa Melayu,” which is used in the Malay version of the Federal Constitution.
The Malays, who account for over half the Malaysian population, play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as bumiputra. Their native language, Bahasa Malaysia, is the national language of the country.
By definition of the Malaysian constitution, all Malays are Muslims. The Orang Asal, the earliest inhabitants of Malaya, formed only 0.5 percent of the total population in Malaysia in 2000 but represented a majority in East Malaysia, Borneo.
In Sarawak and Sabah, most of the non-Muslim indigenous groups are classified as Dayaks, and they constitute about 40 percent of the population in the state.
Many tribes have converted to Christianity. The 140,000 Orang Asli, or aboriginal peoples, comprise a number of different ethnic communities living in peninsular Malaysia.
The Chinese have been settling in Malaysia for many centuries, and form the second-largest ethnic group.
The first Chinese to settle in the Straits Settlements, primarily in and around Malacca, gradually adopted elements of Malaysian culture and intermarried with the Malaysian community, and with this, a new ethnic group called emerged, the Peranakan (“Straits Chinese”).
These Chinese have adopted Malay traditions while maintaining elements of Chinese culture such as their largely Buddhist and Taoist religion.
The more common Chinese varieties spoken in Peninsular Malaysia are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou.
The Indian community in Malaysia is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s population.
They speak a variety of South Asian languages. Tamils, Malayalees, and Telugu people make up over 85 percent of the people of Indian origin in the country.
Indian immigrants to Malaysia brought with them the Hindu and Sikh cultures. This included temples and Gurdwaras, cuisine, and clothing. Hindu tradition remains strong in the Indian community of Malaysia.
A community of Indians who have adopted Malay cultural practices also exists in Malacca. Though they remain Hindu, the Chitties speak Bahasa Malaysia and dress and act as Malays.
Some Eurasians of mixed European and Malay descent live in Malaysia.
A small community in Malacca are descendants of former Portuguese colonists who married Malay women.
While they have adopted Malay culture, they speak their own language and are Catholics.
Greetings in a social context will depend upon the ethnicity of the person you are meeting.
In general, most Malays are aware of Western ways so the handshake is normal. There may be slight differences though and a few things to bear in mind include:
Malay women may not shake hands with men. Women can of course shake hands with women. Men may also not shake hands with women and may bow instead while placing their hands on their hearts.
The Chinese handshake is light and maybe rather prolonged. Men and women may shake hands, although the woman must extend her hand first. Many older Chinese lower their eyes during the greeting as a sign of respect.
Indians shake hands with members of the same sex. When being introduced to someone of the opposite sex, nodding the head and smiling is usually sufficient.
We’re building a high-performance force for good.
Your mission is to help Malaysia get the most for their benefits.
Our mission is to help you do exactly that.