Malaysia - Demographics


As of the 2010 census, the population of Malaysia was 28,334,135, making it the 43rd most populated country. The population of Malaysia consists of many ethnic groups. Malays make up 50.4 per cent of the population, while other bumiputra make up another 11 per cent. According to constitutional definition, Malays are Muslims who practice Malay customs and culture. They play a dominant role politically. Bumiputra status is also accorded to certain non-Malay indigenous peoples, including ethnic Thais, Khmers, Chams and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Non-Malay bumiputra make up more than half of Sarawak's population and over two thirds of Sabah's population. There also exist aboriginal groups in much smaller numbers on the peninsula, where they are collectively known as the Orang Asli. Laws over who gets bumiputra status vary between states.

Other minorities who lack bumiputra status make up a large amount of the population. 23.7 per cent of the population are of Chinese descent, while those of Indian descent comprise 7.1 per cent of the population. The Chinese have historically been dominant in the business and commerce community, and form a plurality of the population of Penang. Indians began migrating to Malaysia in the early 19th century. The majority of the Indian community are Tamils.

Malaysian citizenship is not automatically granted to those born in Malaysia, but is granted to a child born of two Malaysian parents outside Malaysia. Dual citizenship is not permitted. Citizenship in the states of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo are distinct from citizenship in Peninsular Malaysia for immigration purposes. Every citizen is issued a biometric smart chip identity card known as MyKad at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times.

The education system features a non-compulsory kindergarten education followed by six years of compulsory primary education, and five years of optional secondary education. Schools in the primary education system are divided into two categories: national primary schools, which teach in Malay, and vernacular schools, which teach in Chinese or Tamil. Secondary education is conducted for five years. In the final year of secondary education, students sit for the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination. Since the introduction of the matriculation programme in 1999, students who completed the 12-month programme in matriculation colleges can enroll in local universities. However, in the matriculation system, only 10 per cent of places are open to non-bumiputra students.

The infant mortality rate in 2009 was 6 deaths per 1000 births, and life expectancy at birth in 2009 was 75 years. With the aim of developing Malaysia into a medical tourism destination, 5 per cent of the government social sector development budget is spent on health care. The population in concentrated on Peninsular Malaysia where 20 million of approximately 28 million Malaysians live. 70 per cent of the population is urban. Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, as well as its main commercial and financial centre. Putrajaya, a purpose-built city constructed from 1999, is the seat of government, as many executive and judicial branches of the federal government were moved there to ease growing congestion within Kuala Lumpur.

Due to the rise in labour intensive industries, the country is estimated to have over 3 million migrant workers; about 10 per cent of the population. Sabah-based NGOs estimate that out of the 3 million that make up the population of Sabah, 2 million are illegal immigrants. Malaysia hosts a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 171,500. Of this population, approximately 79,000 are from Burma, 72,400 from the Philippines, and 17,700 from Indonesia. Malaysian officials are reported to have turned deportees directly over to human smugglers in 2007, and Malaysia employs RELA, a volunteer militia with a history of controversies, to enforce its immigration law.

Largest cities or towns of Malaysia
Malaysian Census 2010
Rank City name State Pop. Rank City name State Pop.

Kuala Lumpur

Johor Bahru

1 Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory 1 674 621 11 Malacca City Malacca 503 127


2 Johor Bahru Johor 1 386 569 12 Kota Bharu Kelantan 491 237
3 Kajang Selangor 795 522 13 Kota Kinabalu Sabah 462 963
4 Ipoh Perak 767 794 14 Kuantan Pahang 461 906
5 Klang Selangor 744 062 15 Sungai Petani Kedah 456 605
6 Subang Jaya Selangor 708 296 16 Batu Pahat Johor 417 458
7 Kuching Sarawak 617 887 17 Tawau Sabah 412 375
8 Petaling Jaya Selangor 613 977 18 Sandakan Sabah 409 056
9 Seremban Negeri Sembilan 555 935 19 Alor Setar Kedah 366 787
10 Georgetown Penang 520 202 20 Kuala Terengganu Terengganu 343 284

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