To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia. A vibrant country of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Multiculturalism has not only made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, it has also made Malaysia home to hundreds of colorful festivals. It’s no wonder that we love celebrating and socializing. Malaysians are generally very laid back, warm and friendly.
Geographically, Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia and is as diverse as its culture. Malaysia comprises of 13 states and 3 federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia comprises of 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) while the other two states and 1 federal territory (Labuan) are in East Malaysia. Land borders are shared with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei but maritime borders exist with Singapore.
Malaysia has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometers, a population that exceed 28 million and the capital city is Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion while making Islam the state religion. The two parts of Malaysia share a largely similar landscape in that both Peninsular and East Malaysia feature coastal plains rising to hills and mountains. The local climate is equatorial and characterized by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons. The temperature is moderated by the presence of the surrounding oceans ranging from 21° to 32° Celsius in the lowlands.
Malaysians observe a number of holidays and festivities throughout the year. Some are federally gazette public holidays and some are observed by individual states. Other festivals are observed by particular ethnic or religion groups, and the main holiday of each major group has been declared a public holiday.
The most observed national holiday is Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) on 31 August, commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957.Malaysia Day on 16 September commemorates the establishment of the federation in 1963. Other notable national holidays are Labor Day (1 May) and the King’s birthday.
Muslim holidays are prominent as Islam is the state religion; Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri), Hari Raya Haji (also called Hari Raya Aidiladha), Maulidur Rasul (birthday of the Prophet) and others being observed. Malaysian Chinese celebrate festivals such as Chinese New Year and others relating to traditional Chinese beliefs.
Hindus in Malaysia celebrate Deepavali, the festival of lights while Thaipusam is a religious rite which sees pilgrims from all over the country converges at the Batu Caves. Malaysia’s Christian community celebrates most of the holidays observed by Christians elsewhere, most notably Christmas and Easter. East Malaysians also celebrate a harvest festival known as Gawai.
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