PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Malaysia has a combined population of over 18 million people. Because of its central location, between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Malaysia has traditionally been a meeting point for traders and travelers from both the East and West. As a result, Malaysia has a multicultural and multiracial population consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and numerous indigenous peoples. Although Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in business, and the English language is a compulsory subject in all schools.
With such a varying ethnic composition, it is no surprise that a great diversity of religions is prevalent throughout Malaysia. Although the official religion is Islam, freedom of worship is practiced. As a result, it is a common to see temples, mosques and churches within the same area. • Ethnic Groups: 59% Malay and other indigenous, 32% Chinese and 9% Indian.
• Languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Mandarin, Hakka dialects, Cantonese, Tamil and numerous tribal languages.
• Religion: Muslim (primarily Malays), Buddhism (Chinese), Hindu (Indian), Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism and tribal religions.