Buddhism facts

Malaysia Highlights – KVIA

CNN Editorial Research

Here is an overview of Malaysia, a country located in Southeast Asia. Neighboring regions include Thailand, Borneo, Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea.

About Malaysia

(from CIA World Factbook)
Area: 329,847 km²

Population: 33,871,431 (July 2022 est.)

Middle age: 29.2 years old

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Ethnic groups: Malay and indigenous 62.5%, Chinese 20.6%, Indian 6.2%, other 0.9%, non-citizens 9.8% (2019 est.)

Worship : Muslim 61.3%, Buddhist 19.8%, Christian 9.2%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions 1.3%, Other or unspecified 1.4%, None 0.8 % (2010 est.)

Unemployment: 3.3% (2019 estimate)

Other facts

Malaysia is made up of two non-contiguous regions: West Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula, which consists of 11 states, and East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, which consists of two states.

The Barisan Nasional political coalition had been in power for more than 50 years, but was defeated by a coalition of opposition parties led by former leader Mahathir Mohamad in 2018.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has drawn media attention over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a distant relative and supporter of Anwar.

Since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, the sultans who are the hereditary monarchs of nine of the country’s 13 states have chosen one of them to serve a five-year term as king. The king’s role is largely ceremonial in Malaysia, and power to govern rests with the Federal Parliament and the Prime Minister.


1942-1945 – During World War II, the British protectorates Malaya and Borneo were occupied by Japan.

1946 – The Malay Union is established and is originally made up of 11 states.

1948 – The Malay Union becomes the Federation of Malaysia.

1957 – The Federation of Malaya becomes independent from Great Britain.

September 16, 1963 – Malaysia is established and includes the Federation of Malaysia, Singapore and the colonies of Sarawak and Sabah.

September 17, 1963 – The Philippines sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia over disputes over the territory of Sabah.

April 23, 1964 – The Malaysian Ministry of Defense reports that Indonesian terrorists and guerrillas were responsible for the deaths of nearly three dozen Malaysians between September and March.

May 1964 – The Philippines and Malaysia resume diplomatic relations with consular missions in Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

November 19, 1964 – Malaysia bans ships and planes bound for Indonesia carrying arms and ammunition from its airfields and ports.

August 1965 – Singapore separates from the Malaysian federation.

July 1981 – Mahathir becomes Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, interior minister and justice minister.

2009 – Prime Minister Najib Razak takes office. He is the son and nephew of former prime ministers.

July 18, 2011 – After a meeting between Najib and Pope Benedict XVI, Malaysia becomes the 179th country to establish official diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

April 11, 2012 – Supreme Ruler Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah takes office as Head of State.

January 2014 – After a long court battle that began in 1998, opposition leader and former deputy prime minister and finance minister Anwar is acquitted of a sodomy charge.

March 2014 – After the government appealed Anwar’s acquittal, a higher court overturned the decision and sentenced him to five years in prison.

March 8, 2014 – Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappears from radar in airspace over the Gulf of Thailand.

March 15, 2014 – Najib announces that Flight 370 deviated from its course due to a deliberate action.

July 17, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes in eastern Ukraine after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile. All 298 people on board are killed.

February 10, 2015 – Anwar’s sodomy conviction is upheld by the Federal Court of Malaysia.

March 8, 2016 – Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announces in parliament that Malaysian authorities foiled an Islamic State plot to kidnap Prime Minister Najib, along with two other senior officials, in January.

November 19, 2016 – Thousands of people take to the streets of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib. Public dissatisfaction with Najib grew, especially after reports of alleged financial mismanagement by the government fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

December 2016 – Muhammad V is sworn in as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Head of State of Malaysia. Previously, he ruled as Sultan of Kelantan Province for six years.

January 17, 2017 – The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is suspended.

May 9, 2018 – Former Prime Minister Mahathir, who ruled from 1981 to 2003, won 121 seats in the country’s parliament, enough to form a simple majority and take control of the House.

May 10, 2018 – Mahathir, 92, is sworn in as prime minister.

May 15, 2018 – King Muhammad V grants Anwar a pardon for his sodomy conviction. Anwar was initially sentenced to five years in prison and was due to be released in June 2018.

May 24, 2018 – Investigators say the Buk missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was fired from a launcher belonging to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. The Russian Defense Ministry denies that air defense missile systems have ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.

January 6, 2019 – King Muhammad V announces his abdication, after serving two years of his five-year term. It is the first time in modern history that Malaysia’s constitutional leader has stepped down.

July 30, 2019 – Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is sworn in as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

September 6, 2019 – Penang’s ESCAPE theme park unveils the world’s longest waterslide.

January 20, 2020 – Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin announces that she has ordered the return of 3,736 tonnes of waste from 13 countries. Of the 150 containers, 43 are being sent back to France and 42 to the UK, while the US will receive 17 and Canada 11.

February 24, 2020 Mahathir resigns as Prime Minister.

February 29, 2020 Muhyiddin Yassin is appointed Prime Minister.

July 28, 2020 – Najib is found guilty of seven counts related to the 1MDB scandal, which saw billions of taxpayer dollars funneled and diverted out of Malaysia.

October 13, 2020 – Anwar submits documents proving his “strong and convincing” parliamentary support to form a government.

August 16, 2021 – Muhyiddin resigns as Prime Minister.

August 21, 2021 – Ismail Sabri Yaakob is sworn in as the new Prime Minister.

June 10, 2022 – Malaysia announces that it is abolishing the death penalty.

August 23, 2022 – Najib is starting a 12-year prison sentence after his final appeal was rejected by a five-judge panel at Malaysia’s High Court.

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