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Basic Information

Area: 329,847 km²

Calling code: +60

Population: 27,496,000

Official Language: Malay

Time zone: MST (UTC+8), Local time: 23:25


Malaysia is a country in South East Asia, which shares its border with Thailand to the North, and connects to the independent island of Singapore to the south via the Johor-Singapore causeway. One third of the island of Borneo is also classed as Malaysian territory. Malaysia spans a total of 329,847km2 and has a population of over 25 million making it the 6th largest country in South East Asia after Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma.

Malaysia has been blessed with natural resources which have helped establish major trade links with the world, strengthening the economy. The main economic and commercial hub is the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The currency used is the Malaysian ringgit (RM).


Malaysia is Asia's third largest-economy and a great contributor to its total GDP. The economy has seen a recent boom and has gathered strength since the ruling of the past two presidents, who have both vested interest into offering incentives to attract foreign investors to the country. As a result the service sector has greatly expanded and now generates half of the total GDP figure, with sectors such as finance being of particular importance. Tourism is also prominent in Malaysia, particularly in the city of Kuala Lumpur and up the Western coast to the island of Langkawi which proves to be a popular holiday destination. Petronas, the countries main oil supplier (creators of the landmark Petronas Towers) provides 40% of the governments revenue. The country has a total GDP of $378.9 billion, most of which is generated in the capital city, and several other major cities in the country.

The country is a major player in natural gas and oil exports, and ships a total $156 billion worth of goods a year, major exports partners are Singapore, China, the United States and Japan. Its main imports are machinery, vehicles, chemicals, plastics, iron and steel; it imports $119 billion worth of goods a year.


The transportation infrastructure in Malaysia is dense and allows visitors and commuters to travel both nationwide, and through the smaller cities with ease. The country has a total of 80 airports, the largest being Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), followed by Penang International Airport (PEN), and the Kota Kinabulu Airport (KIA). Kuala Lumpur airport is not only the largest in the country but one of Asia's main air transportation hubs, serving 29 million passengers and over 500,000 tons of cargo a year. It offers flights to all corners of the globe, and it is also used as a stopping and refuelling point for several airlines on long-haul flights from the West to Australia.

The are a number of railway routes which connect Kuala Lumpur to other cities, with a total of 1849km of railways throughout the country. However journeys can take a little longer than in European cities as trains travel slowly (the only high-speed train runs between the capital city and its major airport). Generally travelling by public transport is economical, it is even possible to travel to the neighbouring country of Thailand via the Malaysian railway network.

As the exporting of various commodities plays a major role in Malaysia's economy there are many ports and harbours dotted along the countries coasts and rivers. Largest ports include George town (Penang), Port Kelang, Bintulu and Johor Bahru.


Malaysia has a total labour force of 11.29 million (almost as much as the total workforce for Australia), 70% of which live in urban areas. It is very mixed in its cultural make up, with only 50% of the total population being of official Malaysian descent. The largest foreign group residing within the country are the Chinese (23%) followed by Indigenous people (11%) and Indians (7.1%). The official language is Malay, but due to the numerous ethnic cultures in the country many dialects and are spoken. English is also common in the city of Kuala Lumpur, with many universities even holding lectures in the language.

The education system may not be as structured as educational facilities in the Western world, however Malaysia offers several universities which are highly accredited. There are many public, private and international accredited university courses, some of the most famous include The University of Malaya, University Putra Maya and University Teknologi Mayor. It also attracts highly skilled foreign workers to its major cities to work particularly in the banking and petroleum sectors. Over 50% work in the service sector, followed by 36% in industry and 13% in architecture. Malaysia has an unemployment rate of 5%, which is lower than the rate for the United Kingdom.

Business Costs

Costs for renting commercial space in Malaysia vary depending on what area the business is located in; rental costs are highest in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, along with the larger cities of Subang Jaya and Ipoh. In Kuala Lumpur the average rental cost is $45.59 per square foot per month, which is about equal to current office costs in Taipei and Budapest. In comparison to all major economic cities in the world, Malaysia ranks as having relatively favourable rental market costs. Utility costs and items such as office supplies are considered much lower than in the Western world.

The corporate tax system has undergone a series of cuts over the past ten years, and currently stands at a 25% flat rate. There are also a large number of incentives available to foreign investors and local business. A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was opened, in a bid to attract new investors and create more jobs by offering tax breaks. Another programme allows certain venture capital companies who are registered with the Securities Commission Malaysia, to have complete tax exemption for a five year period if they fit specific criteria. Personal tax rates are complex and vary depending on a variety of factors such as the employees residency and work sector, however they never exceed 26%.
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