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Map of Peninsular Malaysia

Peninsular Malaysia ( ), also known as Malaya or West Malaysia, is the part of Malaysiamarker which lies on the Malay Peninsula, and shares a land border with Thailandmarker in the north. To the south is the island of Singaporemarker. Its area is 50,810 square miles (131,598 square kilometers). It accounts for the majority of Malaysia's population and economy. Across the Strait of Malaccamarker to the west lies the island of Sumatramarker. East Malaysia (on the island of Borneomarker) is to the east across the South China Seamarker. Peninsular Malaysia has an estimated population of 21 million, roughly 80% of the total population in Malaysia.

States and territories

It consists of the following 11 state and two federal territories (starting from the North going to the South):

Origin of name

The name 'Malaya' is derived from the name of a river of a similar name found in Sumatramarker. It is now widely believed by the Malay world that such origins are the sole truth for the basis of the name.

The name 'Malaysiamarker' was vaguely used in the 19th century by some British colonists as an alternative name describing the Malay Archipelago. In 1963, the name was adopted by the new federation uniting Malaya, Sabahmarker, Sarawakmarker and Singaporemarker. At the time, the Philippinesmarker had been contemplating adopting the name as well.

Peninsular Malaysia is also known as West Malaysia (Malaysia Barat) or Malaya (Tanah Melayu). The term Peninsular Malaysia is used more often than West Malaysia (to avoid the idea that West and East Malaysia are separate countries like West Germanymarker and East Germanymarker used to be until 1990), or Malaya (which is now becoming obsolete due to its connotations of the Britishmarker colonial era).

Nonetheless, all three terms are correct, and the older term Malaya can still be found in many institutional titles, e.g. the High Court of Malaya, the University of Malayamarker, Malayan Railway, etc., as well as in legal contexts in the phrase the States of Malaya (Negeri-negeri Tanah Melayu), which should not be confused with the Malay states. In current everyday usage the word Malaya is almost always used jocularly, e.g. "Gempar satu Malaya!" which roughly means "(This news) shakes the whole of Malaya!"

Malaya is also used in the Philippine national language, Filipino and means free or freedom.


Note that until 1946, and for some time afterwards, the term Malaya included Singaporemarker. In Singaporean law, the term "Malaya" includes Singapore, but the term "States of Malaya" does not.

Other features

East Coast and West Coast

The term East Coast is particularly used in Malaysia to describe either one of the following states in Peninsular Malaysia facing the South China Seamarker:

It is not uncommon to describe Pahang as a state on the East Coast, as, geographically, most of Pahang is located on the eastern side of peninsular Malaysia, and only part of it is located towards the central portion of Peninsular Malaysia.

The term West Coast refers informally to a collection of states in Peninsular Malaysia situated towards the western coast generally facing the Strait of Malaccamarker, as opposed to the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Unlike the East Coast, the West Coast is partitioned further into three regions (as seen in #States and territories), including:

West and East Malaysia

The distinction between West and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) is significant beyond the sphere of geography, because as well as having a different court structure, the eastern states have more autonomy than the original States of Malaya, for example, maintaining restrictions on immigration from the peninsula.

See also

External links

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