Malaysia Population - History

Malaysia Population - History

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Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the politically dominant Malays comprising a plurality. By Constitutional definition, all Malays are Muslim. More than a quarter of the population is Chinese. They have historically played an important role in trade and business.

Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 7% of the population and include Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. About 85% of the Indian community is Tamil.

Non-Malay indigenous groups make up more than half of Sarawak's population and about 66% of Sabah's. They are divided into dozens of ethnic groups but they share some general patterns of living and culture. Until the 20th century, most practiced traditional beliefs, but many have become Christian or Muslim.

The "other" category includes Malaysians of, inter alia, European and Middle Eastern descent.

24,821,286 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 32.2% (male 4,118,086; female 3,884,403)
15-64 years: 62.9% (male 7,838,166; female 7,785,833)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 526,967; female 667,831) (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.759% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
22.65 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
5.05 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.007 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.789 male(s)/female
total population: 1.012 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
16.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.76 years
female: 75.65 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.05 years
Total fertility rate:
3.01 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
52,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
2,000 (2003 est.)
noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian
Ethnic groups:
Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
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% (2000 census); note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia
Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - in addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest of which are Iban and Kadazan
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.7%
male: 92%
female: 85.4% (2000 est.)

People of Malaysia

The people of Malaysia are unevenly distributed between Peninsular and East Malaysia, with the vast majority living in Peninsular Malaysia. The population shows great ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious diversity. Within this diversity, a significant distinction is made for administrative purposes between indigenous peoples (including Malays), collectively called bumiputra, and immigrant populations (primarily Chinese and South Asians), called non-bumiputra.

Malaysia's official language is Bahasa Malaysia, a form of Malay. English is the former colonial language, and is still in common use, although it is not an official language.

The citizens of Malaysia speak about 140 additional languages as mother tongues. Malaysians of Chinese descent come from many different regions of China so that they may speak not just Mandarin or Cantonese, but also Hokkien, Hakka, Foochou and other dialects. Most Malaysians of Indian descent are Tamil speakers.

Particularly in East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo), people speak over 100 local languages including Iban and Kadazan.

Kota Bharu, Malaysia Metro Area Population 1950-2021

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Kota Bharu, Malaysia Metro Area Population 1950-2021

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Accounting for 50.1% of the Malaysian population, the Malays are the largest ethnic group in the country. Indigenous to the country, the Malays are generally Muslim and practice Malay culture. This means that Muslims of any race are counted as Malays provided they practice Malay culture. The largest community in the country, with their language, Malay, being the national language, Malays are dominant in the political landscape of Malaysia. Their culture is influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, and animism. Aspects of their culture which portray these elements have however been banned or abandoned since the 1980s and 1990s due to the efforts of the "Islamization" Movement.

Chinese Malaysians

Accounting for 22.6% of the Malaysian population, Chinese Malaysians are the second largest ethnic group in the country. Chinese people have been in Malaysia for centuries, with the peak of this immigration in the nineteenth century. Chinese Malaysians dominate business and trading in the country. At their arrival, the Chinese worked in railway construction and tin mining, and later they began to own businesses. These businesses are today large conglomerates. Their religion is mainly Taoism or Buddhism. The Chinese have over the years absorbed elements of Malaysian culture, intermarrying with the indigenous groups and other ethnic groups as well, which have led to the development of a "new culture" that is a rich mixture of all traditions.

Non-Malay Bumiputra and Other Indigenous Groups

11.8% of the Malaysian population is comprised by other non-Malay indigenous groups who have also been given Bumiputra status. These tribes include the Dayak, the Iban, the Biyaduhs, the Kadazan, and various aboriginal groups. Other Bumiputras include the Burmese, the Chams, Khmers, and the Malaysian Siamese.

Indian Malaysians

Indian Malaysians account for 6.7% of the Malaysian population. Indian subgroups include Tamils, Telugus, and Punjabis. Tamils, who account for 86% of Malaysian Indians, began arriving in the 18th and 19th Centuries during the colonial era. Indian laborers were brought to the country to construct railways, to work in plantations, and in rubber and oil palm estates. Tamils from Ceylon (today Sri Lanka who were English-educated worked as teachers, clerks, public servants, doctors, hospital assistants, and other white collar jobs. Most Punjabis were enlisted in the Malaysian army. Their religions are Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism, with more than 86% practicing Hinduism. Some of the Muslims of South Asian (Indian) ancestry have intermarried with the Malay Muslims and become integrated in Malaysia.

The smelliest fruit in the world grows here

Durian is known as the world&rsquos smelliest fruit, and when ripe, you can feel the smell from several hundred meters away. It&rsquos a fruit that is native to Malaysia, and there are many Malaysian varieties of Durian fruit.

It&rsquos a local classic, and when in season, you&rsquoll find it everywhere in the local markets.

Malaysia People and Languages 

Malaysia is a multiracial country with a rich cultural heritage.   Almost 60% of the population are Malay or indigenous people. About 21% are Chinese and 6% are Indian.

The majority of Malaysians (80%) live on the Peninsula which only occupies only about 40% of the land area. Malaysian cities are modern and also have shiny tall skyscrapers. 

Ipoh in central Malaysia

However, people in rural Malaysia are still often quite poor and only have access to basic facilities such as markets instead of shopping malls. Healthcare is also poor in many places with few clinics in larger villages or towns.

The population in rural East Malaysia lives in typical long houses.

Typical Longhouse in Borneo

Almost 44% of all Malaysians are under 24 years of age. Malaysian children go to primary school from 7 years of age and then attend school for up to 13 years until their final exams. Most kids, however, already take part in pre-school classes from the age of three.

Malaysian schoolkids - image by Sonya SooYon

The majority of Malaysians are Sunni Muslims. The second largest mosque in Malaysia is the beautiful Blue Mosque in Shah Alam in Malaysia. The mosque is calle d Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque and known for its blue dome.

Blue Mosque in Shah Alam

This mosque is the one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia! Shah Alam is a city near Kuala Lumpur. The largest mosque in Malaysia is the  Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque which also known as Iron Mosque. This mosque is located in Putrajaya.  The largest mosque in Southeast Asia is located in Jakarta in Indonesia.

Immigration to Malaysia is the process by which people migrate to Malaysia to reside in the country. The majority of these individuals become Malaysian citizens. After 1957, domestic immigration law and policy went through major changes, most notably with the Immigration Act 1959/63. Malaysian immigration policies are still evolving.

In Malaysia there are four categories of immigrants: family class (closely related persons of Malaysian residents living in Malaysia), economic immigrants (skilled workers and business people), other (people accepted as immigrants for humanitarian or compassionate reasons) and refugees (people who are escaping persecution, torture or cruel and unusual punishment).

Currently, Malaysia is known as a country with a broad immigration policy which is reflected in Malaysia's ethnic diversity. According to the 2010 census by Department of Statistics Malaysia, Malaysia has more than 50 ethnic groups with at least 30% of current Malaysians are first- or second-generation immigrant, and 20 percent of Malaysian residents in the 2000s were not born in Malaysian soil.

States and Federal Territories Map of Malaysia

Malaysia is divided into 13 states (Negeri) and 3 federal territories (Wilayah Persekutuan). Out of these – 11 states and 2 federal territories are situated in West Malaysia 2 states and 1 federal territory in Borneo Island (East Malaysia). In alphabetical order, the 13 states are: Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu. Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya are the federal territories in Malaysia. The states are further subdivided into districts and smaller subdivisions.

Located in the Klang Valley, Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the biggest city in Malaysia. Besides being, the cultural and economic center of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is also one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

Malaysia - Statistics & Facts

Even though Kuala Lumpur is both the largest city and capital, the federal government is in the city of Putrajaya. In 2017, the total population of Malaysia amounted to approximately 32 million, with most of the inhabitants living in Peninsular Malaysia. The average age of the population in 2015 was 27.7 years, which points to a remarkably young Malaysian population in general. However, the average age has been increasing constantly over the last decades and is expected to continue to rise, and life expectancy is not significantly lower than in other Southeast Asian states.

Since its independence in 1957, the Malaysian economy has been one of the strongest in Asia. It is mainly fueled by its natural resources, although in recent years the tourism, commerce and science sectors have expanded. Over the last decade, estimated gross domestic product of Malaysia has been increasing steadily, apart from a slight slump in 2015 and 2016, and is expected to pick up speed over the next few years again. GDP per capita peaked before the 2015 recession, but it is recovering to pre-crisis levels. Malaysia has had a positive trade balance for the last decade. In 2008, the trade surplus was reported to be over 43 billion U.S. dollars, a figure that Malaysia almost reached a second time in 2011. Since then, the trade surplus has been slightly decreasing though. Still, all of these figures are signs of a strong export sector.

Despite being one of the nations with the highest quality of infrastructure in air traffic, Malaysian air traffic suffered a devastating tragedy in 2014. While flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens. As a result, 239 people lost their lives, and a search area bigger than the size of Australia was set up. Despite extensive search efforts, so far, no plane wreck or remains have been recovered. Four months later, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in Ukraine, while flying to Malaysia, causing 298 fatalities. As of 2017, Malaysia got a relatively high rating on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. However, it remains to be seen if Malaysia will keep this ranking.

This text provides general information. Statista assumes no liability for the information given being complete or correct. Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date data than referenced in the text.

Watch the video: Religions in Malaysia By Population 1900-2020 (November 2022).

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