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MalaysiaMalaysia's 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.

Learn More About Malaysia:

The Land:
Geography WeatherWildlife

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The Food:
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The Culture:
Way of Life EthnicityLanguage ReligionDress BehaviorIdentity

Map of Malaysia:

Malaysia Map

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Information for Malaysia was last updated: November, 2012 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks