About Malaysia
Malaysia with its many different faces, literally and figuratively, is situated in the very heart of southeast Asia, just north of the equator. Peninsula Malaysia shares a border with Thailand to the north and Singapore to the South. On the west, the Peninsula is separated from Sumatra (Indonesia) by the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea forms the natural eastern border. In the northern part of Borneo, the third largest island in the world, are located the two states of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Malaysia consists of eleven federal states on Peninsular Malaysia: Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka and Johor; two federal states of East Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan (off the coast of Sabah and which is an international Offshore Financial Centre). With its total area of about 330.000 square kilometers, Malaysia is 10 times Belgium.

Nine of the thirteen federal states have Sultans as their constitutional heads. Malaysia is a constitutional Monarchy. Every five years, a new King is elected from among the Sultans to be the Head of State of Malaysia. In November 2006, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin (Terengganu) has been elected as the 13th King of Malaysia.

One of the principal visions of Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, who has been in office from 1981 till 2003, was for the socio-economic, industrial and technological progress of the country. In October 2003 Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, followed by Najib Tun Razak in 2009. Najib Tun Razal is the current Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The strategic location of Malaysia, halfway between India and China and at the crossroads of two important navigation routes, was the main reason why traders from India, China and the Middle East focused a large part of their global commerce on this country. In 1511 the mighty Empire of Melaka was overrun by the Portuguese who wanted to monopolize the spice trade and who also tried to expel Islam, resulting in the beginning of European rule. After the Portuguese domination, the Dutch and the British established their rule. The Second World War resulted in some years of Japanese rule. After the surrender of the Japanese and the return of Malaysia to British rule once again, the cry for independence became louder and louder.

In 1957, the Union jack was lowered for the last time. Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Prime Minister and he was also the brains behind the formation of the Federation of Malaysia (a merger of Malaya, Singapore and North Borneo, present-day Sabah and Sarawak) in 1963.

Singapore became an independent state in 1965.

The above-mentioned historical developments explain the multi-ethnic and multi-religious mosaic of Malaysia. Besides the indigenous culture, Malaysia is also home to three of the world's major cultural traditions - Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist. Islam is the official religion, although there is complete religious freedom for other faiths. In no other place in the world can such tolerance be found. Nowhere else can one find an array of culinary traditions and architectural styles as in Malaysia. The cultural heritage is inexhaustible and very few countries are so richly endowed with pristine nature with its unique and exotic fauna and flora.

In recent years, Malaysia has given due emphasis to tourism. the government recognizes that the orderly and sustainable development of this industry is an important ingredient for a diversified economy. The emphasis is on environmentally friendly development of the tourist sector, stressing economic benefits while minimizing negative socio-cultural and environmental impacts on the country's development.

Preview Gallery
Below a small selection of pictures which are featured in Walter's latest coffee table book. Click on the pictures to see the larger version.