Malaysia Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Malaysia Country Overview

Where is Malaysia located? The state of Malaysia or Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia. What is special about the former British colony of Malaysia is that it consists of two parts of the country that are separated from each other by the South China Sea. The country is made up of the Malay Peninsula and parts of Borneo. The time zone in which Malaysia is located is called “Malaysia Time” (MYT) and is a standard difference of 8 hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time difference of 8 hours stays the same throughout the year as there is no daylight saving time change in Malaysia.

Malaysia National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Malaysia is 32,652,083, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 32,652,083
Population growth rate 1.29%
Birth rate 19.10 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 74.28 years
Men 71.51 years
Women 77.24 years
Age structure
0-14 years 27.48%
15-64 years 66.17%
65 years and above 6.35%
Median age 27.90 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.03
Population density 98.99 residents per kmĀ²
Urbanization 63.90%
67% Malay (Bumiputera), 25% Chinese, 7% Indian and others
Muslims 61.3% Buddhists 19.8% Christians 9.2% Hindus 6.3% Confucians, Taoists, other Chinese religions 1.3% Other 1.3% No religious affiliation 0.8% (2010)
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.804
HDI ranking 61st out of 194

People in Malaysia

Malaysian, Malay or Orang Asli?

Most of Malaysia’s nearly 32 million people live in Western Malaysia. Only 20 percent of the residents live in the eastern part of the country. The residents of Malaysia are called Malaysians. They must not be confused with the Malays, the largest ethnic group in the country. 58 out of 100 people are Malays. They are Muslim and speak the Malay language.

Malaysia is a country of many peoples and religions. 10 out of 100 are indigenous groups. The Orang Asli, which means “indigenous people” or indigenous people, live in the rainforest of West Malaysia. These are the people who have always lived there and who did not immigrate at some point like others.

The Orang Asli themselves are composed of several ethnic groups. They can be found mainly in the mountainous regions of the island and mostly live under very simple conditions. In the “Tman Negara” National Park, they can largely still lead their original life even under protection.

The indigenous population in eastern Malaysia, on Borneo, is called Dayak. They too are made up of several ethnic groups. Dayak also live across national borders in Brunei and Indonesia.

Mixed colors!

A third of the population of Malaysia has immigrated from China. Most of the Chinese came to work in the mines at the call of the British. Many Chinese are involved in trade and industry.

Some residents of Malaysia are also from India. Eight out of 100 people who live in Malaysia are Indian. They came at the end of the 19th century, at a time when the British were boosting rubber production. They worked as laborers in the fields. While the Chinese often hold important positions in the economy, many Indians live with poorly paid jobs.

The coexistence of people works to a large extent, but is not free from tension either. Certain ethnic groups are oppressed and do not have the same opportunities as the Malay, the Muslim population of Malaysia. So there are always heated discussions and arguments.

The plight of the migrant workers

Migrant workers who only work temporarily in Malaysia and who often come there out of need in their homeland are also discriminated against. They come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam or Bangladesh. Often these people work as maids or in construction. Most of the time they are treated badly and have few or no rights. Their families are mostly dependent on their jobs, so they don’t defend themselves. And even if they earn badly, they still earn more than in their home country. So their need is often taken advantage of.

Languages in Malaysia


Religions in Malaysia

Most of the people in Malaysia are Muslim. The Islam is the state religion. The Chinese living in the country are mostly Buddhists and the Indians are Hindus. There are Christians too, albeit in a small minority. Primitive peoples have their own beliefs that are strongly influenced by nature. Officially, all religions are allowed in Malaysia, but Islam is the strongest religion because of its widespread distribution and some work is also given to Muslims rather than to people of other faiths. But this is not openly expressed.