The Federation of Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. It consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea:
The earliest recorded Malay kingdoms grew from coastal city-ports established in the 10th century AD. These include Langkasuka and Lembah Bujang in Kedah, as well as Beruas and Gangga Negara in Perak and Pan Pan in Kelantan. It is thought that originally these were Hindu or Buddhist nations. Islam arrived in the 14th century in Terengganu.
Portugal made Malacca a colony in 1511 by military conquest, thus ending the Sultanate of Malacca. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of the Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh; and the attacks only stopped in 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca. The British took control of Malacca after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.
It was also about this time that many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling internal conflicts. Less than ten years after the transfer movement was completed, several west coast Malay States came under British influence. The role of the merchants of the Straits Settlements saw British government intervention in the affairs of the tin producing states in the Malay Peninsula. Coupled with Chinese Secret Society disturbances and civil war, British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution that favoured the merchants of the Straits Settlements. Finally, the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for British expansion; and by the turn of the 20th century the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the rule of British residents appointed to advise the rulers/Sultans.
A new federation under the name of Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 through a merging of the Federation of Malaya and the British crown colonies of Singapore, North Borneo (renamed Sabah), and Sarawak, the latter two colonies being on the island of Borneo. The Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing interest in joining the Federation, pulled out due to opposition from certain segments of the population as well as wrangling over the payment of oil royalties.
After the racial riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy - intended to increase the share of the economic pie owned by locals as opposed to other ethnic groups - was launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, and developed a unique rule combining economic growth and a political rule that favours bumiputras (a group including ethnic Malayans) and moderate Islam.
Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the 4th prime minister of Malaysia. The period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry in areas such as computers and consumer electronics. In the late 1990s, Malaysia was shaken by the Asian financial crisis. Opposition to certain aspects of the existing system was put down by the government. The opposition runs the gamut from socialist and reformists to the party advocating the creation of an Islamic state.