Malaysia History  

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MALAYSIA

The Malay peninsula has been a commercial center since antiquity. Originally Hindu, with an Indian flavor, the region turned to Islam in the 1400s. Europeans arrived, first the Portuguese and then the Dutch (1641). Britain made its move in 1789 and eventually the Malay states became British protectorates. The British expanded mining (tin) and agriculture (rubber plantations). Because large numbers of Chinese were brought in as laborers, the balance tilted until the economy was dominated by ethnic Chinese. At the same time, Britain was also solidifying it hold on Borneo. In World War II, Japan overran Malaya and, after the war, a federation was set up to eliminate much of the confusion that exited between the Malay states. t this early 1950s period, the communist party mounted a rebellion that bedeviled the country. A home-rule government was granted in 1955 and independence in 1957 as the Federation of Malaya. Six years later, Malaysia was created which brought together Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak (though Singapore went its own way in 1965 and achieved independence then). Since independence, Malaysia has worked hard at becoming an economic center, so it was particularly hard-hit during the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998. The two tallest buildings in the world were also erected in Kuala Lampur in the 1980s.

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