Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,845 square kilometres (127,354 sq mi). The country is separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo (also known as West and East Malaysia respectively). Malaysia shares land borders with Thailand, Indonesia, and Brunei and has maritime boundaries with Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population as of 2011 stood at over 29 million.
Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements. Peninsular Malaysia, then known as Malaya, was first unified under the commonwealth in 1946, before becoming the Federation of Malaya in 1948. In 1963, Malaya unified with Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore. In 1965, Singapore opted out of the federation and became an independent city state. Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for the first 50 years of independence. The economy of the country has, traditionally, been fuelled by its natural resources, but is now also expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.
Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, conventionally referred to as "the Head" or "the Agong". The Agong is an elected monarch chosen from one of the sultans from the 9 Malay states. The head of government is the Prime Minister. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on English Common Law.
Malaysia, which, in Tanjung Piai, can claim the southernmost point of continental Eurasia, is located near the equator and has a tropical climate. It has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.