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Malaysia ~ The People


About Malaysia FAQ  States of Malaysia  The Monarchy  The Government  History People  Culture  Weather
 
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Malaysia’s population is now about 28 million. The people of Malaysia come from a number of different ethnic groups mainly – Malays, Chinese, Indians, with the indigenous Eurasians and the indigenous Orang Asli of the peninsula and the various tribes of Sabah and Sarawak making up the remaining population. Approximately 85% of the population lives in Peninsular Malaysia and the remaining 15% in Sabah and Sarawak.
 


Population - 28 million (85% of the population lives in Peninsular Malaysia and the remaining 15% in Sabah and Sarawak)
People - Comprising of 93% Malaysian Citizens - 65% Malay plus indigenous People, 26% Chinese, 9% Indian
Language - Bahasa Malaysia (Malay), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, indigenous dialects
Religion - 52% Muslim, 17% Buddhist, 12% Taoist, 8% Christian, 8% Hindu, 2% tribal


 

The Malays

The Malays are Malaysia's largest ethnic group, accounting for over half the population and the national language. With the oldest indigenous peoples they form a group called bumiputera, which translates as "sons" or "princes of the soil. "Almost all Malays are Muslims, though Islam here is less extreme than in the Middle East. Traditional Malay culture centres around the Kampung, or village, though today one is likely to find Malays in the business and in pubic sectors.

 

The Chinese

The Chinese traded with Malaysia for centuries, then settled in number during the 19th century when word of riches in the Nanyang, or "South Seas," spread across China. Though perhaps a stereotype, the Chinese are regarded as Malaysia's businessmen, having succeeded in many industries. When they first arrived, however, Chinese often worked the most gruelling jobs like tin mining and railway construction. Most Chinese are Tao Buddhist and retain strong ties to their ancestral homeland.

 

The Indians

Indians had been visiting Malaysia for over 2,000 years, but did not settle en masse until the 19th century. Most came from South India, fleeing a poor economy. Arriving in Malaysia, many worked as rubber tappers, while others built the infrastructure or worked as administrators and small businessmen. Today ten percent of Malaysia is Indian. Their culture with it's exquisite Hindu temples, cuisine, and colourful garments is visible throughout the land.

 

The Indigenous People
There are still small scattered groups of indigenous people collectively called the Orang Asli or "the original peoples" in Malay. They mostly live off the land and are to be found in the remote areas throughout peninsular Malaysia. Although most have given up their nomadic and shifting agriculture techniques, they still prefer to keep to themselves and their way of life and live
with the forest.

 

The People of East Malaysia

Dayak is the term used for the indigenous people of Borneo. It is estimated there are more than 200 Dayak tribes on Borneo, the most important being the Iban and Bidayuh in Sarawak and the Kadazan in Sabah.
 


 

Other small groups include the Kenyah, Kayan and Penan, whose way of life and habitat are rapidly disappearing. The main indigenous tribe of Sarawak is the Iban. They are largely longhouse dwellers and live along the Rejang River and Baram River. The Bidayuh are concentrated on Sarawak's Skrang River.



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