Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, with the other states forming protectorates. The states on Peninsular Malaysia, then known as Malaya, were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. However, less than two years later in 1965, Singapore withdrew from the federation, and became an independent city state. Since independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for the first 50 years. The economy of the country has, traditionally, been fuelled by its natural resources, but is now also expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.
The capital city of Malaysia is the country’s central hub for politics, business and modern living. The city brings together Malaysia's past and present, its many constituent cultures, and even its remarkable natural treasures, allowing first-time visitors an invaluable opportunity to see Malaysia as a whole before setting off to explore its parts.
Penang is a vibrant and diverse area, as welcoming to tourists as it is beloved by locals. Penang needs little introduction to many visitors to Malaysia, having long been known as one of Southeast Asia's finest destinations. Penang's outstanding beaches and exotic sights have made it one of the most popular destinations in the region. As fabulous as its beaches are, some of Penang's deeper mysteries should also be experienced.
Malaysia’s history comes alive in Malacca’s buildings, which span time and cultures. If the ultra-modern architecture and forward-looking citizens of Kuala Lumpur symbolize Malaysia's hopes for the future, then the quiet, seaside city of Malacca, about 150 kilometres to the south, is the guardian charged with the reflective task of preserving its past. Over the centuries, the Chinese and local Malay cultures in Malacca intertwined, eventually producing a completely unique society, the Baba-Nyona. This fascinating micro culture reached its height around the turn-of-the-century, and Malacca's Baba-Nyonya Heritiage Museum preserves typical Baba-Nyona household.