Our Facebook Page

History of Malaysia

Malaysia became a melting pot of nations – settled by people who wound their way from India, China and Europe, bringing their own cultures and customs with them. Trade was the magnet that drew merchants and adventurers to the Malay Peninsula; they prospered, as did Malaysia. In the 1400s, the Malacca Malay Sultanate ousted the Hindu dynasty ruling the region and converted Malacca into part of the Sultanate. Under the rule of the Malacca Sultan, Iskandar Shah (also called 'Parameswara’), Malaysia’s importance as a strategic trading post grew.

Situated at the confluence of the east and the west, Malacca soon became the bone of contention between rival European powers eager to grab the lucrative trade in the region. In 1511, the Portuguese grabbed power, but could hold on to it for one and a half centuries; in 1641, the Dutch became masters of the country, only to be ousted by the British in 1815.

Over the next hundred years, the British consolidated their hold and by 1914, the British reigned supreme over three different sets of states -the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States. Discontent and resentment of foreign rule reached a head in the 1930s and along with much of Asia, Malaysia too began a nationalist movement. A movement for independence arose but was interrupted by World War II (and the subsequent occupation by the Japanese), and was resumed only during the 1950s. The country became independent on August 31, 1957, and the Federation of Malaysia, consisting of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore was formed six years later, in 1963. In 1965, Singapore ceded from the federation and became a free country.

Under the leadership of PM Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysia revamped its economic policies in the ‘80s to change its focus from the previously agrarian economy to a more mixed economy, with a greater emphasis on foreign investments and privatization. In the two decades since then, Malaysia has gone far down the road to development, and today, has a reasonably stable government, a well-established economy and a flourishing tourist trade.

History of Malaysia