Malaysia is divided into two distinct parts: Peninsular Malaysia and the East Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak in North Borneo. The two regions are 650km (403mi) apart, separated by the South China Sea. Peninsular Malaysia shares borders with Thailand and Singapore. Sabah and Sarawak border Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), and Sarawak surrounds the tiny enclave of Brunei. The Andaman Sea is on the west coast of the peninsula. The east coast of the peninsula, Sabah, and Sarawak all adjoin the South China Sea.
Peninsular Malaysia accounts for 40 percent of the country's land mass. Several mountain ranges run north-south along the spine of the peninsula. There is a wide, fertile plain on the west coast, and a narrow coastal plain on the east. Sabah and Sarawak are covered by dense jungles and have large river systems. Mt Kinabalu (4101m/13,450ft) in Sabah is one of the highest peaks in South-East Asia.
More than 60 per cent of the country is still rainforest, but a government plan to build a huge hydroelectric dam in Sarawak is expected to decimate 27,600ha (69,000ac) of forest, which does not augur well for the future. There are 8000 species of flowering plants in Peninsular Malaysia alone, including 2000 tree species, 800 different orchids and 200 types of palm. Fauna includes elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards, tapirs, sun bears, orangutans and gibbons. East Malaysia has one of the most abundant and varied bird populations in the world.
Malaysia is hot and humid all year. Temperatures are usually between 20-30°C (68-86°F); humidity is usually 90 per cent. The region has a monsoonal climate, but only the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia has a real rainy season. The wettest season on the west coast of the peninsula is between September and December; on the east coast and in Sabah and Sarawak it's between October and February. Rain, when it comes, generally interrupts the sunshine only briefly; most of it falls in short, strong bursts.
24.4 million (UN, 2003)
329,733 sq km
Malay:49.0%, Chinese:25.0%, Other Indigenous:11.0%, Other:8.0%, Indian:7.0%
Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam
www.putraja.net.my Putrajaya is a thoroughly modern and vibrant city. It is a model township
that has been constructed with detailed planning, innovative urban design and great respect for the environment. Putrajaya is a city with a vision and heritage for the country’s present and future generations. Its beautifully landscaped roads and parks as well as modern buildings are clearly reflected in the duality of the project theme “Garden City, Intelligent City”.
The vision to have a new Federal Government Administrative Centre to replace Kuala Lumpur surfaced in late 1980s. A 4,932-hectare lush forest area in southern Prang Besar in Selangor was identified and later renamed “Putrajaya” in honour of Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj for his invaluable contribution to the nation. The relocation is to ensure that Kuala Lumpur will have adequate supply of land to continue developing as Malaysia's principal business and financial centre.
Of the city’s total land area, a third is being developed into parks, lakes and wetlands while the remaining areas is for Government offices, commercial and residential areas, public utilities and amenities. The Master Plan and Urban Design vision of Putrajaya comprises two main components namely the Core and Peripheral Areas.
One of the major tourist attractions is the pink-domed Putra Mosque is located at the western shore of the Putrajaya Lake. Its dome constructed in rose-tinted granite.
The basement wall of the mosque resembles that of the King Hassan mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. The mosque consists of three main functional areas - the prayer hall, the "Sahn" or courtyard, learning facilities and function rooms.
The prayer hall is simple and elegant, supported by 12 columns. The highest point below the dome is 2,500 feet above ground level. The Sahn, landscaped with several decorative water features and bordered by colonnades, provide extended prayer space. Its impressive minaret is influenced by the design of the Sheikh Omar mosque in Baghdad. At 116m, it is the tallest minaret in the region and is built in five tiers, representing Rukun Islam or the Five Tenets of Islam.
The mosque, which can accommodate 15,000 worshippers at any one time, also accommodates a VIP room, library, Manuscript Museum, auditorium, exhibition foyer and a seminar room.