Malaysia Overview

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia, located partly on a peninsula of the Asian mainland and partly on the northern third of the island of Borneo. West (peninsular) Malaysia shares a border with Thailand, is connected by a causeway and a bridge (the ‘second link’) to the island state of Singapore, and has coastlines on the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca. East Malaysia (Borneo) shares borders with Brunei and Indonesia.

Malaysia is divided into two parts. One part, known as Peninsular Malaysia, consists of 11 states on the Malay Peninsula and the federally administered cities of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. The other part consists of two states called Sarawak and Sabah along the northern and north-western coasts of the island of Borneo and the small island territory of Labuan off the coast of Sabah. The two parts of Malaysia lie about 400 miles apart, linked by the South China Sea.

Malaysia is a mix of the modern world and a developing nation. With its investment in the high technology industries and moderate oil wealth, it has become a rich nation in Southeast Asia. Malaysia, for most visitors, presents a happy mix: there is high-tech infrastructure and things generally work well and more or less on schedule, but prices remain more reasonable than, say, Singapore.

Thick rain forests cover parts of both Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. The highland regions offer cool relief from the humidity of the mainland, while Langkawi is a popular destination if you prefer surfing or lying around on a beach.


CAPITAL: Kuala Lumpur
POPULATION: 25.2 million
LANGUAGE: Malay, English
CURRENCY: Malaysian Ringgit
ELECTRIC CURRENT: 240V, 50Hz. To power any electrical item an international adapter or a three pin plug is required.


There is a general threat from terrorism in Malaysia. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past in East Malaysia and we believe that this threat remains. If you wish to visit resorts on, and islands off, eastern Sabah, you should exercise caution. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets too. You should be aware that there is particular evidence that criminal and terrorist groups may plan attacks in resorts located in isolated parts of eastern Sabah, including Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan.

Information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK