Driving Directions Malaysia

MALAYSIA is a federal constitutional monarchy that lies in the South China Sea in southeast Asia. It comprises eleven states located in the southernmost part of the Malay Peninsula, which forms West Malaysia, and the two states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo, which form East Malaysia. Sarawak and Sabah separated from the western part of the kingdom by 650 kilometers or 400 miles of the South China Sea.

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Peninsular Malaysia has rugged mountains in the north and center, reaching heights over 2,100 meters or 7,000 feet, with a broad plain in the south and along each coast. Sarawak has a mainly low-lying and marshy vast coastal plain but with high mountain ranges in the east and along the border with Indonesian Borneo. Mountains are also the predominant feature of Sabah, and Malaysia’s highest peak, Kinabalu (4,094 meters or 13,455 feet), is located here.

The natural vegetation of Malaysia is dense, tropical rainforest and coastal mangrove swamps. The tropical jungles contain a wealth of plant and animal species, including the rare and beautiful orangutan, an arboreal ape found only in Borneo and Sumatra. However, the forests are threatened by logging and clearance for agriculture, and few areas remain undisturbed except for those in designated national parks.

Malaysia is affected by the monsoon climate of south Asia. The northeast monsoon brings rain to the east coast of peninsular Malaysia in winter, and the southwest monsoon brings rain to the west coast in summer. The climate is generally tropical, and temperatures are uniformly hot throughout the year.

The kingdom is a leading producer of rubber, palm oil, and tropical hardwoods. There is also some offshore oil, and around the capital, Kuala Lumpur, new manufacturing industries are expanding and play an increasingly important role in the country’s economy. Malaysia was hit by the economic recession in 1997 and implemented a series of measures designed to restore confidence in its economy.

Google maps™ Malaysia

Peninsular Malaysia (131,587 square kilometers/50,806 square miles), formerly called West Malaysia, occupies the southern third of the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland. East Malaysia occupies the northern quarter of the island of Borneo. It is divided into two parts: Sabah (74,398 square kilometers/28,725 square miles) in the north and Sarawak (124,449 square kilometers/ 48,050 square miles) in the southwest. Sabah and Sarawak are almost, but not quite, separated by Brunei and Indonesia, which are the other two countries on Borneo. About four-fifths of Malaysia’s terrain is covered by rainforest and swamp. Peninsular Malaysia’s terrain consists of steep forest-covered mountains with coastal plains to the east and west. Sarawak encompasses an alluvial swampy coastal plain, an area of rolling country interspersed with mountain ranges, and a mountainous interior, most of which is covered with rainforest. Sabah is split in two by the Crocker Mountains, which extend north and south some 48 kilometers (30 miles) inland from the western coast.

The South China Sea borders Peninsular Malaysia on the east and both Sarawak and Sabah on the north. The South China Sea, an offshoot of the Pacific Ocean, is the world’s second-busiest international sea lane. More than half of the world’s supertanker traffic passes through the region’s waters. The Celebes Sea, southeast of Sabah, is also an extension of the Pacific Ocean. The Sulu Sea, northeast of Sabah, separates the South China Sea from the Celebes Sea. The Andaman Sea on Peninsular Malaysia’s northwestern coast is part of the Indian Ocean and Bengal Bay.

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The dense forests of Malaysia are thought to be the oldest in the world. Covering more than two-thirds of the country, they stretch from the west coast’s mangrove swamps, through freshwater swamps, to lowland hardwood forests, heath forests, and mountain forests. There are believed to be around 8,500 species of flowering plants and ferns – and 2,500 species of trees – in Malaysia’s forests. About 59 percent of Malaysia’s total land area is tropical rainforest. The Titiwangsa Range has the largest remaining contiguous forest tract in Peninsular Malaysia.

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