A traditional cross roads between China and India, Malaysia has always attracted foreigners, anxious to establish settlements for their trade activities.

The influence from India

As soon as in the 1rst Century, India's influence extends in the region. Indian traders introduce Hinduism and Buddhism in Malaysia, converting malay kings to the new religions.


During the 15th century, a new force emerges with the apparition of the first Malay sultans.

The Europeans

At the end of the 15th century, The Portuguese settle in Malacca. In 1641, the Dutch succeed to them and take control of the town. During the 18th century, it is the turn of the British seeking to secure their interests within the Company of Eastern India.

The British first settle in the island of Penang, wherefrom they engage in a tough competition with the Dutch. A side effect of the French Revolution and of the Traité de la Haye (Whereby The United Provinces was degraded as a mere satellite of the French Republic), Malacca is ceded to the British by the Dutch, anxious to prevent the French from taking control of the City.

In 1826, Singapore, Penang and Malacca form the Straits Settlements. The Straits became rapidly successful in the sea trade. In addition, the discovery of tin ore in the peninsula paved the way for the development of an important mining activity during the Industrial Revolution. As this economic growth required large manpower resources, it gave rise to an important Chinese immigration outflow, which would have a profound impact on the country's demography.

As social unrest developped towards the end of the the 19th century, a Malaysian States Federation was created in 1896, although most of the power remained in the hands of the British.

After the First World War, Malaysia launched the cultivation of Hevea in which it rapidly became one of the most important producers.

The independence

After the Second World War and following the Japanese invasion, the Malays structured their forces and eventually gained the independence of Malaysia. :

  • 1995- First national elections
  • 1957- End of the British sovereignty
  • 1963- Création of the Federation of Malaysia.

Ethnic tensions

In 1969, the country went through a severe crisis marked by harshed ethnic confrontation. The Malaysian population is compounded of 50% muslim Malays, 30% de Chinese, 10% Indians and around 100000 Natives. The Chinese Control more than 40% of the economic activity, compared with 18% for the Malays, the rest belonging to foreign investors.

The tensions decreased with the recent economic boom, but remain vivid.



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