The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia.Located in the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries on earth, with large numbers of endemic species.
The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates.The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.Today, Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world.In modern terminology, "Malay" remains the name of an ethnoreligious group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula and portions of the adjacent islands of Southeast Asia, including the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and smaller islands that lie between these areas.The state that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957 took the name the "Federation of Malaya", chosen in preference to other potential names such as "Langkasuka", after the historic kingdom located at the upper section of the Malay Peninsula in the first millennium CE.Traders and settlers from India and China arrived as early as the first century AD, establishing trading ports and coastal towns in the second and third centuries.
Their presence resulted in strong Indian and Chinese influences on the local cultures, and the people of the Malay Peninsula adopted the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Sanskrit inscriptions appear as early as the fourth or fifth century.
Between the 7th and 13th centuries, much of the southern Malay Peninsula was part of the maritime Srivijaya Empire.
The territories on Peninsular Malaysia were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946.
Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957.
After the fall of Srivijaya, the Majapahit Empire had influence over most of Peninsular Malaysia and the Malay Archipelago.