Due to its strategic position Malaysia became a hot spot for traders as early as the 2nd Century AD. They first came in the form of Chinese and Indian traders who introduced beliefs and ideas that would shape the culture, language and customs of the country. Then, as Malaysia was slowly developing into one of the most important trading posts in Southeast Asia, during the 13th century Arab traders brought with them Islam ending the Hindu-Buddhist era. Thus, Islam was established as the religion of the Malays.
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During the 16th century the Europeans decided that they also wanted in and so Malaysia was soon to accommodate further change. First, the Portuguese captured Malacca which by this time was the most sought after trading port in Asia. They were soon followed by the Dutch and then in the 19th century the British took control. After a short occupation by the Japanese during World War II, Malaysia gained independence from the British on the 31st August 1957.
The country is now split into two regions; Peninsula Malaysia (or West Malaysia) and Malay Borneo (East Malaysia). It is made up of 13 states with Kuala Lumpur being the federal capital and the largest city in the country.
Nowadays Malaysia is best known for its beautiful tropical islands, a jungle-clad interior, its diverse wildlife, a fascinating colonial heritage and an eclectic cuisine. These ‘ingredients’ combined with the warmth of the Malaysian people ensure a very rewarding holiday in Malaysia.