The World Factbook (1990)/Malaysia

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The World Factbook (1990)
United States Central Intelligence Agency

pages 191–193


World Factbook (1990) Malaysia.jpg

See regional map IX


Total area: 329,750 km²; land area: 328,550 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than New Mexico

Land boundaries: 2,669 km total; Brunei 381 km, Indonesia 1,782, Thailand 506 km

Coastline: 4,675 km total (2,068 km Peninsular Malaysia, 2,607 km East Malaysia)

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation; specified boundary in the South China Sea
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with China, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam; state of Sabah claimed by the Philippines; Brunei may wish to purchase the Malaysian salient that divides Brunei into two parts

Climate: tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons

Terrain: coastal plains rising to hills and mountains

Natural resources: tin, crude oil, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite

Land use: 3% arable land; 10% permanent crops; NEGL% meadows and pastures; 63% forest and woodland; 24% other; includes 1% irrigated

Environment: subject to flooding; air and water pollution

Note: strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea


Population: 17,510,546 (July 1990), growth rate 2.3% (1990)

Birth rate: 29 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 30 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 65 years male, 71 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.5 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Malaysian(s); adjective—Malaysian

Ethnic divisions: 59% Malay and other indigenous, 32% Chinese, 9% Indian

Religion: Peninsular Malaysia—Malays nearly all Muslim, Chinese predominantly Buddhists, Indians predominantly Hindu; Sabah—38% Muslim, 17% Christian, 45% other; Sarawak—35% tribal religion, 24% Buddhist and Confucianist, 20% Muslim, 16% Christian, 5% other

Language: Peninsular Malaysia—Malay (official); English, Chinese dialects, Tamil; Sabah—English, Malay, numerous tribal dialects, Mandarin and Hakka dialects predominate among Chinese; Sarawak—English, Malay, Mandarin, numerous tribal languages

Literacy: 65.0% overall, age 20 and up; Peninsular Malaysia—80%; Sabah—60%; Sarawak—60%

Labor force: 6,800,000; 30.8% agriculture, 17% manufacturing, 13.6% government, 5.8% construction, 4.3% finance, 3.4% business services, transport and communications, 0.6% mining, 24.5% other (1989 est.)

Organized labor: 660,000, 10% of total labor force (1988)


Long-form name: none

Type: Federation of Malaysia formed 9 July 1963; constitutional monarchy nominally headed by the paramount ruler (king) and a bicameral Parliament composed of a 58-member Senate and a 177-member House of Representatives; Peninsular Malaysian states—hereditary rulers in all but Penang and Melaka, where governors are appointed by Malaysian Government; powers of state governments are limited by federal Constitution; Sabah—self-governing state, holds 20 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign affairs, defense, internal security, and other powers delegated to federal government; Sarawak—self-governing state within Malaysia, holds 24 seats in House of Representatives, with foreign affairs, defense, internal security, and other powers delegated to federal government

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Administrative divisions: 13 states (negeri-negeri, singular—negeri) and 2 federal territories* (wilayah-wilayah persekutuan, singular—wilayah persekutuan); Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Labuan*, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Terengganu, Wilayah Persekutuan*

Independence: 31 August 1957 (from UK)

Constitution: 31 August 1957, amended 16 September 1963 when Federation of Malaya became Federation of Malaysia

Legal system: based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court at request of supreme head of the federation; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: National Day, 31 August (1957)

Executive branch: paramount ruler, deputy paramount ruler, prime minister, deputy prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Parlimen) consists of an upper house or Senate (Dewan Negara) and a lower house or House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—Paramount Ruler AZLAN Muhibbuddin Shah ibni Sultan Yusof Izzudin (since 26 April 1989); Deputy Paramount Ruler JA'AFAR ibni Abdul Rahman (since 26 April 1989);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Dr. MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (since 16 July 1981); Deputy Prime Minister Abdul GHAFAR Baba (since 7 May 1986)

Political parties and leaders: Peninsular Malaysia—National Front, a confederation of 14 political parties dominated by United Malays National Organization Baru (UMNO Baru), Mahathir bin Mohamad; Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Ling Liong Sik; Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, Datuk Lim Keng Yaik; Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Datuk Samy Vellu;

Sabah—Berjaya Party, Datuk Haji Mohamed Noor Mansoor; Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Joseph Pairin Kitingan; United Sabah National Organizaton (USNO), Tun Datuk Mustapha;

Sarawak—coalition Sarawak National Front composed of the Party Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud; Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Datuk Amar Stephen Yong Kuat Tze; Sarawak National Party (SNAP), Datuk James Wong; Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), Datuk Leo Moggie; major opposition parties are Democratic Action Party (DAP), Lim Kit Siang and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Fadzil Noor

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: House of Representatives—last held 2-3 August 1986 (next to be held by August 1991); results—National Front 57.4%, DAP 20.8%, PAS 15.6%, independents 3.3%, others 2.9%; note—within the National Front, UMNO got 35% and MCA got 14% of the vote; seats—(177 total) National Front 148, DAP 24, PAS 1, independents 4; note—within the National Front, UMNO got 83 seats and MCA got 17 seats

Communists: Peninsular Malaysia—about 1,000 armed insurgents on Thailand side of international boundary and about 200 full time inside Malaysia surrendered on 2 December 1989; only about 100 Communist insurgents remain in North Kalimantan and Sabah

Member of: ADB, ANRPC, ASEAN, Association of Tin Producing Countries, CCC, Colombo Plan, Commonwealth, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, IRC, ITC, ITU, NAM, OIC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Albert S. TALALLA; Chancery at 2401 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 328-2700; there are Malaysian Consulates General in Los Angeles and New York; US—Ambassador Paul M. CLEVELAND; Embassy at 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur (mailing address is P. O. Box No. 10035, 50700 Kuala Lumpur); telephone [6](03) 248-9011

Flag: fourteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top) alternating with white (bottom); there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a yellow crescent and a yellow fourteen-pointed star; the crescent and the star are traditional symbols of Islam; the design was based on the flag of the US


Overview: In 1988-89 booming exports helped Malaysia continue to recover from the severe 1985-86 recession. Real output grew by 8.7% in 1988 and about 7.7% in 1989, helped by vigorous growth in manufacturing output and further increases in foreign direct investment, particularly from Japanese and Taiwanese firms facing higher costs at home. Malaysia has become the world's third-largest producer of semiconductor devices (after the US and Japan) and the world's largest exporter of semiconductor devices. Inflation remained low as unemployment stood at about 8% of the labor force and as the government followed prudent fiscal/monetary policies. The country is not self-sufficient in food, and a majority of the rural population subsists at the poverty level. Malaysia's high export dependence (merchandise exports are 63% of GDP) leaves it vulnerable to a recession in the OECD countries or a fall in world commodity prices.

GDP: $37.9 billion, per capita $2,270; real growth rate 7.7% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.6% (1989 est.)

Unemployment rate: 7.9% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $8.8 billion; expenditures $11.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.5 billion (1989 est.)

Exports: $24 billion (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—natural rubber, palm oil, tin, timber, petroleum, electronics, light manufactures; partners—Singapore, Japan, USSR, EC, Australia, US

Imports: $20 billion (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—food, crude oil, consumer goods, intermediate goods, capital equipment, chemicals; partners—Japan, Singapore, FRG, UK, Thailand, China, Australia, US

External debt: $16.3 billion (1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 13.6% (1988)

Electricity: 5,600,000 kW capacity; 16,500 million kWh produced, 990 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: Peninsular Malaysia—rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging and processing timber; Sabah—logging, petroleum production; Sarawak—agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging

Agriculture: Peninsular Malaysia—natural rubber, palm oil, rice; Sabah—mainly subsistence; main crops—rubber, timber, coconut, rice; Sarawak—main crops—rubber, timber, pepper; there is a deficit of rice in all areas; fish catch of 608,000 metric tons in 1987

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-84), $170 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $3.8 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $42 million

Currency: ringgit (plural—ringgits); 1 ringgit (M$) = 100 sen

Exchange rates: ringgits (M$) per US$1—2.7038 (January 1990), 2.7087 (199), 2.6188 (1988), 2.5196 (1987), 2.5814 (1986), 2.4830 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: Peninsular Malaysia—1,665 km 1.04-meter gauge; 13 km double track, government owned; Sabah—136 km 1.000-meter gauge

Highways: Peninsular Malaysia—23,600 km (19,352 km hard surfaced, mostly bituminous-surface treatment, and 4,248 km unpaved); Sabah—3,782 km; Sarawak—1,644 km

Inland waterways: Peninsular Malaysia—3,209 km; Sabah—1,569 km; Sarawak—2,518 km

Ports: Tanjong, Kidurong, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Pasir Gudang, Penang, Port Kelang, Sandakan, Tawau

Merchant marine: 159 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,525,635 GRT/2,216,215 DWT; includes 2 short-sea passenger, 71 cargo, 21 container, 2 vehicle carrier, 2 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 1 livestock carrier, 28 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 1 chemical tanker, 6 liquefied gas, 1 specialized tanker, 1 passenger-cargo, 22 bulk, 1 passenger

Civil air: 53 major transport aircraft

Pipelines: crude oil, 1,307 km; natural gas, 379 km

Airports: 126 total, 121 usable; 32 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 8 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 19 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good intercity service provided to peninsular Malaysia mainly by microwave relay, adequate intercity radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; international service good; good coverage by radio and television broadcasts; 994,860 telephones (1984); stations—28 AM, 3 FM, 33 TV; submarine cables extend to India and Sarawak; SEACOM submarine cable links to Hong Kong and Singapore; satellite earth stations—1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT and 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT, and 2 domestic

Defense Forces

Branches: Royal Malaysian Army, Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Air Force, Royal Malaysian Police Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 4,499,495; 2,744,743 fit for military service; 178,923 reach military age (21) annually

Defense expenditures: 3.8% of GDP, or $1.4 billion (1990 est.)