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Malaysia Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014

(CNN) -- Here's some background information about Malaysia, a country located in Southeast Asia. Neighboring regions include Thailand, Borneo, Indonesia, Brunei and the South China Sea.

About Malaysia:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 329,847 sq km

Population: 30,073,353 (July 2014 est.)

Median age: 27.7 years

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Ethnic Groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, Indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, Others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Religions: Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, Other or unknown 1.5%, None 0.8% (2000 census)

GDP: $525 billion (2013 est.)

GDP per capita: $17,500 (2013 est.)

Unemployment: 3.1% (2013 est.)

Other Facts:
Malaysia is made up of two noncontiguous regions: West Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula, which consists of 11 states, and East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, which consists of two states.

The ruling political coalition, Barisan Nasional, has been in power for more than 50 years.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, has received media attention in connection with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah is a distant relative and Ibrahim supporter.

Timeline:
1942-1945 - During World War II, Japan occupies the British protectorates Malaya and Borneo.

1946 - The Malayan Union is established and is originally comprised of 11 states.

1948 - The Malayan Union becomes the Federation of Malaya.

1957 - The Federation of Malaya becomes independent of Great Britain.

September 16, 1963 - Malaysia is established and it includes the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, and the Sarawak and Sabah colonies.

September 17, 1963 - The Philippines severs diplomatic relations with Malaysia due to disagreements over territory in Sabah.

April 23, 1964 - The Malaysian Defense Ministry reports that Indonesian terrorists and guerillas were behind the deaths of nearly three dozen Malaysians between September and March.

May 1964 - The Philippines and Malaysia resume diplomatic relations with consular missions in Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

November 19, 1964 - Malaysia bans Indonesian-bound ships and planes carrying weapons and ammunition from its airfields and ports.

August 1965 - Singapore breaks away from the Malaysian federation.

July 1981 - Mahathir bin Mohamad becomes Malaysia's fourth prime minister, minister of home affairs and minister of justice.

2009 - Prime Minister Najib Razak takes office; he is the son and nephew of former prime ministers.

July 18, 2011 - After a meeting between Prime Minister Razak and Pope Benedict XVI, Malaysia becomes the 179th country to establish official diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

April 11, 2012 - Paramount Ruler Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah takes office as head of state.

March 7, 2014 - Following a lengthy court battle that began in 1998, opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim has an acquittal on sodomy charges overturned.

March 8, 2014 - Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappears from radar in airspace over the Gulf of Thailand.

March 12-13, 2014 - The Malaysian government is criticized for its handling of the investigation into the missing flight, especially by China, which had 154 nationals on board.

March 15, 2014 - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that Flight 370 veered off course due to a deliberate action.

March 24, 2014 - Razak announces that based satellite data, Flight MH370 ended in a remote area in the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysia Airlines sends text messages to relatives of passengers indicating that there are no survivors. Later, briefings are held for the families.

July 17, 2014 - Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes in eastern Ukraine after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile, according to the United States. All 298 people aboard are killed.

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