Indigenous Malays constitute roughly 62 percent of the population.
But immigrants, especially Chinese (who make up 30 percent of the population), have a tremendous presence in the country.
Most of the nation's millionaires, outside royalty, are Chinese.
Indians constitute about 8 percent of the population.
The rest are small numbers of Arabs, Indonesians, Filipinos, and Pakistanis.
Malaysia is a confederation of 13 states spread across 330,000 square kilometers (127,413 square miles), roughly 60 percent of which is occupied by the states of Sarawak and Sabah.
The other 40 percent is the Malay Peninsula, stretching from Singapore (connected by bridge with the Malaysian state of Johore) to the border with Thailand.
The international telephone access code is 60.
The city code for Kuala Lumpur is 03, for George Town 04, for Melaka 06, for Kuantan 09, for Johor Bahru 07, and for Sabah's Kota Kinabalu 088.
Malaysia time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, or 6 hours ahead of Cairo, 12 hours behind Buenos Aires, and 2 hours behind Sydney.
Banking hours are 10 AM3 PM MondayFriday and 9:3011:30 AM on Saturday.
Offices and shops usually begin their day at 9 AM and close anywhere from 5 to 10 PM. Most shops close for midday breaks from 12:45 to 2 or 2:30 PM.
Saturdays are half-days and Sunday is a holiday. Stores that cater to visitors are generally open every day of the week.
The five states in the eastern part of the peninsula still maintain the Muslim half-day on Thursday, full holiday on Friday (the holy day), and full working days on Saturday and Sunday.
Malaysia's tropical climate brings hot and humid days year-round. Average daily temperatures vary from about 21° to 32° C (70° to 90° F).
Rainy seasons occur in all parts of the country. On the east coast of the peninsula the rains generally last from October to February. On the west coast, August to December is the wettest period.
The unit of currency of Malaysia is the ringgit (R), or Malaysian dollar.
One hundred sens equals one ringgit.
Current is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. Sockets require flat, three-pin plugs
Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of roads and highways, all of which are in good condition.
The traffic signs are written in Malay.
Common traffic signs are
Ikut Kiri (keep left)
Kurangkan Laju (slow down) and
Jelan Sehala (one way)
Timur (east) and
To rent a car or operate a motor vehicle, you must possess a valid International Driver's License (available from most auto clubs and motor-vehicle departments in your home country).
Throughout the country, 999 is the number to call for all police, medical, fire, and other emergencies