Country of the World Malaysia

About the country Malaysia, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: In southeast Asia, Malaysia is a federation of the 11 states of West Malaysia (formerly Malaya), located on the southern portion of the Malay Peninsula, as well as Sabah and Sarawak, the two states of East Malaysia, located 400 mi, across the South China Sea on the island of Borneo.

Nearly 80% of the land is covered by tropical rain forest, swamps, or mountains. In both East Malaysia and on the mainland, plains follow the coastline while mountains rise in the interior. Though monsoon rainfall averages about 100 in. a year, most areas are warm and sunny.

Size: 127,316 sq. mi. (329,749 sq. km.): West Malaysia, 50,915 sq. mi., and East Malaysia, 76,401 sq. mi.

Population: 13.2 million.

Who Rules: Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with an elective monarch called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is elected for five-year terms by the hereditary rulers of nine states.

The Malaysian legislature consists of the Senate, which is both elective and appointive, and the powerful lower house, the House of Representatives, which is fully elective. Since its formation, Malaysia has been governed by an alliance of ethnic conservative parties, chiefly the United Malays National Organization, the Malaysian Chinese Association, and the Malaysian Indian Congress. Malays dominate, however, and the prime minister has always been a Malay Muslim.

Who REALLY Rules: At the time they granted Malaysia's independence, the British trained the new nation's leaders, granted them authority, and suppressed the radical Malayan Communist party. During the late 1960s, however, England scaled down its involvement in the area and the U.S. moved in. The U.S. has maintained a relatively small official presence in Malaysia, but U.S. universities and foundations, many of which are subsidized by the U.S. government, have infiltrated every level of Malaysian government. Institutions such as the Agricultural Development Council, the Asia Foundation, and Harvard's Center for International Development have trained hundreds of Malaysian technocrats and sent advisers to oversee Malaysian economic planning.

U.S. and Japanese electronics manufacturers operate a large number of assembly plants in Malaysia, primarily in Penang. Many companies have strict employment standards, hiring only single female workers in their early 20s. Though the poorly paid, uneducated women workers are usually efficient, there have been several instances of mass employee hysteria forcing the closure of plants. To keep their workers happy, American employers in the Penang Free Trade Zone have instituted a "community involvement" program, including a beauty contest, in which "Miss National Semiconductor," Miss Advanced Micro Devices," and others compete for the title of "Miss Free Trade Zone."

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