Malaysia: Country and Foreign Investment
History, Population, Language and Culture
Malaysia's history has been strongly influenced by it's geographical position, beside the Strait of Malacca, which has caused it to be a trading hub since relations with China and India were established in the 1st century BC. These connections saw the adoption of Hinduism and Buddhism in Malaysia, until the arrival of Islam via Arab and Indian traders in the 13th century.
Afonso de Albuquerque seized Malacca in 1511, making it into a Portuguese colony. The Dutch then took control in 1641 after defeating the Portuguese in the Eighty Years' War, and then allowed British occupation during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent a French take-over. Malacca was returned to the Dutch in 1815, leading to the British acquiring Singapore in 1819 as an alternative base in the area. Though this proved to be a short-lived arrangement as the British exchanged Bencoolen in Sumatra for Dutch Malacca in 1824, leading to British hegemony in the Malay peninsula.
The Pacific theatre of action in World War II saw Japanese forces overrun Malaya, British North Borneo, and Brunei between December 1941 and February 1942. There was an increase in the idea of Malayan nationalism during occupation, paving the way for independence in the years following the war. Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore became Malaysia in September 1963, although Singapore was expelled from the federation in 1965.
Modern Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society. The majority (61.3%) of the population practice Islam, and Malaysian is the most commonly spoken language. Malaysia has a similar cultural heritage to neighbouring Indonesia, with the Malaysian and Indonesian languages being mutually intelligible.