Key facts: Malaysia

by World Grain Staff
Share This:

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Population: 25,715,819 (July 2009 est.)

Religions: Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census).

Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam.

Government: Constitutional monarchy. Chief of state is King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abdin (since Dec. 13, 2006); Head of government is Prime Minister Mohamed Najib bin Abdul Razak (since April 9, 2009).

Economy: Malaysia, a middle-income country, has transformed itself since the 1970s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. After coming to office in 2003, former Prime Minister Abdullah tried to move the economy farther up the value-added production chain by attracting investments in high technology industries, medical technology and pharmaceuticals. The Government of Malaysia is continuing efforts to boost domestic demand to wean the economy off of its dependence on exports. Nevertheless, exports — particularly of electronics — remain a significant driver of the economy.As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has profited from higher world energy prices, although the rising cost of domestic gasoline and diesel fuel forced Kuala Lumpur to reduce government subsidies. Malaysia "unpegged" the ringgit from the U.S. dollar in 2005 and the currency appreciated 6% per year against the dollar from 2006 through 2008. Although this has helped to hold down the price of imports, inflationary pressures began to build in 2007. In 2008, inflation stood at nearly 6%, yearover-year. The government presented its five-year national development agenda in April 2006 through the Ninth Malaysia Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for the allocation of the national budget from 2006-10. Abdullah unveiled a series of ambitious development schemes for several regions that have had trouble attracting business investment. Real GDP growth averaged about 6% per year under Abdullah, but regions outside of Kuala Lumpur and the manufacturing hub, Penang, did not fare as well. The central bank maintains healthy foreign exchange reserves and the regulatory regime has limited Malaysia’s exposure to riskier financial instruments and the global financial crisis. Decreasing worldwide demand for consumer goods is expected to hurt economic growth in 2009 and beyond, however.

GDP per capita: $15,200 (2008 est.); inflation: 5.4% (2008 est.); unemployment 3.3% (2008 est.).

Currency: Ringgit (MYR): 3.36 Ringgits equal 1 U.S. dollar (Nov. 16, 2009).

Exports: $198.7 billion (2008 est.): electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals.

Imports: $154.7 billion (2008 est.): electronics, machinery, petroleum products, plastics, vehicles, iron and steel products, chemicals.

Major crops/agricultural products: Peninsular Malaysia, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper, timber.

Agriculture: 10.1% of GDP and 13% of the labor force.

Internet: Code .my; 362,968 (2009) hosts and 16.903 million (2008) users.

Source: CIA World Factbook