Malaysia - Statistics & Facts

Separated by the South China Sea, Malaysia is divided into Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, both quite similar in size. Overall, there are thirteen states and three federal territories in Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares borders with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. East Malaysia, on the other hand, borders Brunei and Indonesia and also shares a maritime border with the Philippines.

Even though Kuala Lumpur is both the largest city and capital, the federal government is in the city of Putrajaya. In 2016, the total population of Malaysia amounted to approximately 31.63 million, with most of the inhabitants living in Peninsular Malaysia. The average age of the population in 2015 was 27.7 years, which points to a remarkably young Malaysian population in general. However, the average age has been increasing constantly over the last decades and is expected to continue to rise, and life expectancy is not significantly lower than in other Southeast Asian states.

Since its independence in 1957, the Malaysian economy has been one of the strongest in Asia. It is mainly fueled by its natural resources, although in recent years the tourism, commerce and science sectors have expanded. Over the last decade, estimated gross domestic product of Malaysia has been increasing steadily, and apart from a slight slump in 2015 and 2016, is expected to pick up speed over the next few years again. Subsequently, GDP per capita in 2014 was the highest in the country of the last decade. Even though Malaysia reported a severe trade deficit of over 82 billion U.S. dollars in 2003, there has been a positive trade balance ever since; in 2008, the trade surplus was reported to be over 43 billion U.S. dollars, a figure that Malaysia almost reached a second time in 2011. Since then, the trade surplus has been slightly decreasing though. Still, all of these figures are signs of a flourishing economy.

Despite being one of the nations with the highest quality of infrastructure in air traffic, Malaysian air traffic suffered a devastating tragedy in 2014: While flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from air traffic controllers’ radar screens. As a result, 239 people lost their lives, and a search area bigger than the size of Australia was set up. Despite extensive search efforts, so far, no plane wreck or remains have been recovered. Four months later, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in Ukraine, while flying to Malaysia, causing 298 fatalities. As of 2017, Malaysia got a relatively high rating on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index – however, if this score can be kept remains to be seen.

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