Malaysia, unlike many of its Asian counterparts, isn’t a nation that has a culture that is distinctively tied to one ethnicity, or language. Instead, thanks to Malaysia’s rich history, it has become a truly multi-racial and multi-cultural society where its three major ethnic groups – the Malays, Chinese, and Indians – along with a myriad of smaller ethnic groups live in harmony, learning one another’s languages and cultures, while free to carry-on the traditions and beliefs of their own ethnic background.
The Malaysian culture and lifestyle, together with its openness to multiplicity, makes it a charming disbursement of Malaysia’s multicultural heritage.Therefore it isn’t uncommon to see Malaysians from all ethnic backgrounds coming together to join in each other’s festivities and cultural celebrations.
The Malays are the largest ethnic group comprising a half of the country’s the population, the Chinese are the second largest community with 23 percent of the population, whereas 7 percent are Indians. The indigenous population is said to make up 12 percent of the population, while the rest is comprised of small ethnic communities of Sikhs, Eurasians, and other non-citizens.
The indigenous people are known as ‘Orang Asli’ which means “original people”. However, there are several tribes which make up the ‘Orang Asli’ population such as the Dayak of Sarawak, the Kadazan of Sabah, and the Semai of peninsula Malaysia, each with their own festivals, traditions, and beliefs.
While each ethnic group is well-versed in their own language, every Malaysian is taught the national language, Malay or ‘Bahasa Malaysia’, and English. As such, nearly all Malaysians are bilingual and are quite capable of conversing and even reading in Bahasa, English, and their own native language.
Besides being able to hold on to their traditions and culture, Malaysians are free to practice their religion with many practicing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, and Animism, though the state religion is Muslims, which all Malays are required to adhere to.
With religious and cultural festivals and a diverse cultural spread, you will find at least one festival every month, each being unique in their own ways.
Thanks to the general friendly nature of Malaysians, the wide variety of cuisines from around the region to suit your palette, and the vibrant cultures and traditions, Malaysia a fantastic place to visit. It is a mix of all the distinctive cultures and delights of Asia. No wonder the nation prides itself on being “truly Asia”.
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