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name comes from the Tamil words melai, which means "mountain"
and ur, meaning "city" or "land." This was later used
by the Melayu Kingdom, which ruled the region in the 600s.
Malay culture begins and ends with the country's geography. Malaysia is a country
that is primarily divided into two sections, in both these sections and in between
there are hundreds of islands as well. This geographic isolation and diversity has
given rise to numerous different cultures and ways of life. Despite this historic
division and diversity, the country has always been centered on the waterways, which
has always been at the root of communication, transportation, and even the lifestyle
of the people as many people were, and still are, reliant on the seas as fishers
and fertile lands as farmers.
Since thousands of years ago, the people of modern day Malaysia have been outwardly
focused due to their waterways and water routes. Trade throughout the region always
tended to pass by or stop in Malaysia and the Malays have nearly always had their
hand in controlling or taking part in that trade. Because of this, the people of
Malaysia today are a mix of people, cultures, and customs. They are people who readily
accept foreigners as foreigners have been the crutch of their historic economy,
but they have also been a people who have had the intelligence and determination
to control the trade and the economy.
The way of life in Malaysia today is still based on a very outwardly thinking society
as the people in the country are ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians, and others. Despite
this diversity, there has been little tension or arguments among the groups as each
seems to understand the need for the other groups in order to thrive as a whole.
In the opposite way, the people of Malaysia are very diverse as the above mentioned
groups maintain their historic lifestyles as ethnic Malays, Chinese, or Indians,
holding on to their religions, foods, and ways of life. Further diversity comes
in the Malay people themselves, especially those inland, who have unique foods and
cultures that date back thousands of years and have failed to transfer from island
to island or from interior to coast. For these people reliance is not on foreigners,
but on the land and the sea along with the food sources that each provide.
The people of Malaysia today are diverse as Malays, Chinese, and Indians practice
Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism respectively and foods from every country can be found.
It seems the people are divided with no similar culture or way of life, yet the
people are held together as one society or many people. They are focused on economics
and trade, always looking outward and willing to adapt as the country continues
to push forward technologically.
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