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Preface Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country with a population of 23.

27 million (ref: Population and Housing Census 2000; approx. 25 million today). The bumiputras (or "sons of the soil") which comprise the Malays, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak, and the aboriginal groups of Peninsular Malaysia (the Orang Asli) form the majority (65.1%), with the Chinese at 26.0%, the Indians at 7.7%, and other ethnic groups (Eurasians, Europeans, etc) accounting for the rest. In Sarawak, the predominant ethnic group is the Ibans, who account for 30.1% of the state's total Malaysian citizens, followed by the Chinese (26.7%) and Malays (23.0%). In Sabah, the predominant ethnic group is the Kadazan Dusun (18.4%), followed by the Bajau (17.3%) and Malays (15.3%). The distribution of population is somewhat uneven, with some 20 million residents or over 80% concentrated in Peninsular Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak, considerably larger than the peninsula in land area, are relatively less densely populated. Given the rich ethnic mix, it is hardly surprising that there is a great variety of faiths in Malaysia. What's surprising is the relative peace and harmony that the followers of different creeds enjoy. This becomes even more of an eye-opener when one takes into consideration the devoutness of the adherents of the different faiths. It only takes a religious festival such as the Hari Raya Puasa, Thaipusam, Wesak or Christmas for one to notice how real and palpable faith is in this small nation. Although Islam is the official religion, the Constitution guarantees the freedom to practise other religions. Each faith tends to identify with a specific ethnic group. For instance, almost all Malays in this country are Muslims (in fact, by constitutional definition, Malays are Muslims who practice Malay customs or adat, and culture), while Chinese are predominantly Buddhist and Taoist, and the Indians, Hindus. Christianity is multi-ethnic, embracing segments of the Indian and Chinese population, as well as the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak. According to the Population and Housing Census 2000 figures, approximately 60.4% of the population practises Islam; 19.2% Buddhism; 9.1% Christianity; 6.3% Hinduism, and 2.6% traditional Chinese religions. The remaining 2.4% is accounted for by other faiths, including Sikhism and Animism. Language also mirrors the multi-racial mix with most Malaysians being able to speak two or three languages and/or dialects fluently. Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language) is the official language but listen to a few conversations on the street and you'll soon understand why the tourism advertisements use the Malaysia, Truly Asia tagline. (Stay a while longer, and you'll be completely sold on it.)

Cantonese. Decent . Malaysia is truly Asia. Malayalam. Telegu. Hakka. mostly spoken by the non-Malays. extensively used in commerce and industry. Hindi. Gujarati and Urdu (Indian). Punjabi. Teochew.English is widely spoken and is deemed the unofficial second language. Then of course. you'll hear a peculiar form of the language. and Tamil. Yes indeed. a colloquial English which is famously known as Manglish (a portmanteau of the word Malay and English). there's a variety of Chinese and Indian dialects such as Hokkien. On the streets. and Hainanese (Chinese).