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Malaysia - Overview

Malaysia is a beautifully diverse country, with a rich geography and culture which has a wealth of benefits to offer anybody wanting to move abroad. Malaysia is the 67th largest country in the world by area (329,847 km2, and has the 42nd highest population, housing around 30 million people.

The geographical setting of Malaysia puts it in the MST (Malaysian Standard Time) time zone, which finds itself 8 hours ahead of GMT. They do not observe Daylight saving time, so regardless of season, the time zone does not change. The official currency is the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) which was formerly known as the Malaysian dollar. The value of the ringgit has fluctuated quite a bit over recent years, but has generally stayed with a value of 2.5 – 4 ringgit being equivalent to 1 US dollar.

Malaysia’s capital city is Kuala Lumpur which is home to the legislative branch of the Malaysian Federal Government and is the most populous city in the country. It is not, however, Malaysia’s largest city. Putrajaya is larger and serves as the primary seat of the Federal Government and it is here that the executive and judicial branches are located, not in Kuala Lumpur.

The official language is Malay, but English is widely recognised across the country. Malay is written using the Malay alphabet which contains the same 26 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet without any additional accents or diacritics. The language itself belongs to the Austronesian family, and is an official language for Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and the Cocos Islands.

Malaysia is a country lying in the heart of the Indian Ocean, with quite a complex geography. It is located on the Malay Peninsula, sharing borders with Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei. The country is made up of two land masses, East Malaysia and West Malaysia, which are separated by the South China Sea. Malaysia as a whole consists of thirteen states and three federal territories. 11 states and 2 territories can be found on the Malay Peninsula, in West Malaysia, and the remaining 2 states are located in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. The other federal territory comprises islands just off the coast of Borneo. The federal territories are called Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, and the states are named Johor, Jedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.

Combining the coastlines of East and West Malaysia gives the country a total coastline of nearly 4000 km (2800 miles). This long expanse of coastline is home to Malaysia’s beaches, amongst the most beautiful in the world. But these are not all the country has to offer in terms of natural beauty. Both halves of Malaysia contain mountains towards their centre, which are carpeted in forest. The Crocker Range in East Malaysia is particularly famous for being home to the country’s highest mountain: Mount Kinabalu, which stands very tall at a height of 4095.2 m (13,436 ft), the 20th highest peak in the world.

Along with its areas of outstanding natural beauty, and hugely diverse natural geography, Malaysia is home to some animated and exciting cosmopolitan cities. The country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is rated as an alpha world city and is the cultural and economic heart of Malaysia. Here you will find a truly first rate modern city, having played host to many important events on the world stage in recent years, such as the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One Grand Prix. Kuala Lumpur also possesses the world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers, which are the perfect symbol of the city’s and subsequently, Malaysia’s, modernisation.

So, in short, Malaysia is an incredibly diverse country. Whatever your preferences, or reason for moving country, you are guaranteed to find something for you in Malaysia. If you want to spend your days topping up your tan and enjoying the beautiful sunshine, then make the most of Malaysia’s extensive coastline. If you are looking to observe the rich variety of wildlife found in the forest areas, then perhaps a house inland would be more to your taste. Of course, if you are looking for the excitement that only comes from living in a rapidly developing international city, then why not try living in a flat in Malaysia’s stunning capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.