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If you fancy watching a naturally synchronised light show performed by fireflies or a chance to visit the Pearl of the Orient then Malaysia is the country to visit. Malaysia is split into two land formations - Peninsula Malaysia is the part jutting out from the south east corner of Asia and Malaysian Borneo, often referred to as East Malaysia, occupies part of the larger island of Borneo.
This may sound confusing but Malaysia and its people work as a whole despite the stretch of the waters of the South China Sea between the two regions. Malaysia is still a relatively new country, celebrating its half century in 2007, but its history reaches back 40,000 years when the indigenous people of Malaysia settled there.
The people of Malaysia
It did not take long for this area of South East Asia to flourish and grow in population when maritime trade routes were being established around 2,500 years ago. This meant Malaysia had a large influx of immigrants which has remained to this day.
Malays form 51 percent of the population of Malaysia with the rest being made up of Chinese and Indians. On East Malaysia in the region of Sarawak, half the population are from indigenous tribes living in inaccessible areas. The Penan are the only real nomadic tribe still living in Malaysia and they are skilled hunter-gatherers.
Traditional Malay culture, based around village life of farming, fishing and making crafts, is diminishing as younger people graduate towards a more urban life. Most of the Chinese and Indian population arrived in Malaysia in the 19th century, where work in the tin mines was plentiful.
Where to go in Malaysia
Malaysia is a country full of exotic sights, natural beauty, and a rich diversity of land and culture. The Pearl of the Orient is the island of Penang, a popular tourist destination in the north of Malaysia. Here you can gaze at colonial architecture, visit the newest national park of Malaysia, and take a look at the largest Buddhist shrine in Malaysia.
If it is the fireflies that take your fancy, head for Kuala Selangor, north of Kuala Lumpur, the capital. The tiny insects gather in particular trees along the Sungai Selangor river and boat trips are constantly ferrying passengers to the ‘show trees’ for a dazzling display of lights.
The reason why most people visit Malaysia is for a glimpse of an extraordinary creature – the orang-utan. Being the only species of ape to live outside Africa, these auburn-coloured curiosities with their extremely long arms are highly prized. The best place to get up close and personal is at the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre, one of only four orang-utan sanctuaries in the world.
What a fascinating country Malaysia is, full of rainforests, wildlife beyond your wildest imaginings, and a culture that will continue to excite you long after you have left Malaysia. For flights to Malaysia, check out what BudgetAir can offer in terms of price and availability. You might be surprised how much you can save on fares to Malaysia through BudgetAir.