People in Malaysia (1 of 5)

The indigenous people of Malaysia settled in the region some 40,000 years ago. Owing to its key position on maritime trade routes from around 2,500 years ago, the region acquired a large immigrant population. Today, Malays form 51 percent of the country's 27 million inhabitants, with the Chinese making up about a quarter, and the Indians, about 7 percent. Indigenous groups comprise the remainder of the population. The largest ethnic group of Malaysia is, by definition, a Muslim group. Believed to have arrived on the peninsula from Sumatra, the Malays began converting to Islam in the 15th century, owing to the rise of the Malay sultanates. While Malaysia is home to people of many different faiths, Islam is the official religion. So closely bound is Malay cultural identity with Islam that the Bahasa Malaysia phrase for adopting Islam, masok melayu, means "to become a Malay."

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People in Malaysia, 190 images

Malaysia, 1000 photos