Country Profile - Malaysia
Capital and largest cityKuala Lumpur
Other citiesSubang Jaya, Klang, Ampang, Kuching, Ipoh, Shah Alam
Area329 847 sq km
Population27,730,000 (2008 est.)
The national language of Malaysia is Malay, which in itself is derived from the Malayao-Polynesian subgroup of languages. Other languages spoken in Malaysia include Indonesian, Kedahan, Bruneian, Tamil and Iban. The Malay language is usually written in the arabic alphabet, although historically it was written in a diverse range of scripts. Like Indonesian, much of its vocabulary consists of words borrowed from Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian.
Starting in the 1970s, Malaysia started the process of becoming a Tiger economy, such as Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, and put emphasis on the transition from mining and agriculture to manufacturing - a process which was successful in part due to Japanese investment.
Malaysia's estimated GDP is $357 billion, with the majority of its workforce employed in the service sector. Key industries are rubber, light manufacturing, electronics, tin mining, logging and petroleum. Exports are an important means of economic growth in the country, and include electronic equipment and petroleum, to trading partners such as US, Singapore, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Germany.
At the start of the 21st century, increased government spending coincided with the rejuvenation of the country's economy, and in 2006, Malaysia put a ban on short selling. It is currently considered a newly industrialised country.
Malaysia has plentiful oil and natural gas supplies, but it has been predicted that they will only last for another 18 and 35 years respectively. In 2007, the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed after a meeting at the East Asia summit. The countries have determined to promote energy security and find sustainable alternatives to traditionally used fuels. Malaysia was one of the countries which signed the declaration.
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