Malaysia ( ( listen) mə-LAY-zhə or ( listen) mə-LAY-see-ə; Malaysian pronunciation: [məlejsiə]) is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 330,803 square kilometres (127,720 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. Located in the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries on earth, with large numbers of endemic species.
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, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates. The territories on Peninsular Malaysia 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 North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. Less than two years later in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. About half the population is ethnically Malay, with large minorities of Malaysian Chinese which also form the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world, Malaysian Indians, and indigenous peoples. The constitution grants freedom of religion and makes Malaysia an officially secular state, while establishing Islam as the "religion of the Federation". Despite being a majority Muslim country, Malaysia has been widely regarded as a rather moderate Muslim majority country. Malaysia also recognises Chinese New Year, Eid al-Fitr, Diwali and Christmas as federal national holiday.
The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the prime minister. The country official language is Bahasa Malaysia or commonly known as Malay language. English remains as an active second language. English proficiency in Malaysia has been highly ranked as the second best in Asia after Singapore and 12th best in the world as of 2016.
The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. It is also one of the few developing countries to subsidise heavily on education and healthcare. Its citizens are entitled to free public education up to secondary education level and public tertiary education fees are subsidised as much as 90%. Basic healthcare services at government run clinics with prescription cost RM1. Its healthcare services have been highly regarded and the UN Development Programme has called Malaysia healthcare system "a model to other developing countries".
It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the East Asia Summit, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Malaysia is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.