History of Malaysia

Hey fellow adventurers! It’s time to discuss the history of Malaysia. Throughout the post, I’m going to use the name Malaysia for convenience but that’s a more recent name. Malaysia has been called Malaya in the past, as well as some other names. I’m sorry if that confuses anyone.

There is evidence to support that human activity has occurred in Malaysia for at least 40,000 years. Trade with China and India was established as far back as 100 BCE. Trade doesn’t just bring in buyable goods though, but culture and religion. By 400 CE, Buddhism and Hinduism were introduced to Malaysia via India. By 1300, Islam was introduced by Arab and Indian merchants. During what is sometimes called a “second flowering of Islam,” four Muslim empires (Ottoman, Safavid, Songhay and Mughal) gained strong political and military power, as well as economic prosperity. By the 1400s, the trading network was largely controlled by Muslims in the Southeast Asia area. To attract these traders to their cities, a lot of Hindu and Buddhist rulers converted to Islam and enforced Islamic law.

A few countries have occupied Malaysia throughout history but the British controlled Malaysia the longest. Although at first the British only wanted economic control over Malaysia, they soon wanted territorial control as well. Under British rule, the British brought in Indians to do manual labor, such as Tin mining. This made Indian and Chinese Malaysians the primary manual labor workforce. While Malay Malaysians had opportunities to work in government positions, such as for the police. Positions the British generally closed off to non-Europeans. Not only that but the British gave off the impression that the Malay Malaysians were the rulers of Malaysia but didn’t give them any authority to rule. This inequality created a rift between the races. If you want to learn more about Colonial control over Malaysia, read the following article:


During World War II, Japan set out to acquire resources that would free it from its dependence on the West. The Japanese shared a desire with several Southeast Asian countries to liberate countries under European control. The Japanese claimed they were going to make “Asia for Asians.” However soon after they began conquering countries, it became clear that they were more interested in resources, than liberation. The Japanese’s first act in Malaysia was to kill the Chinese Malaysians. After which, the Japanese established a rule, and you either followed or died. The occupation of the Japanese ended after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. If you wish to learn more, I highly recommend this show from history channel:

After Japanese occupation ended, it wasn’t long until the British took control again. This was welcomed by some Malaysians and dreaded by others. Those who wanted Malaysian independence fought to get rid of British control. In 1957, Malaysia is free from British control. And in 1963, Malaysia officially becomes Malaysia. If you would like a more comprehensive timeline of the history of Malaysia, check out BBC:


I also recommend watching this interesting piece about former Malaysian communists that were kicked out of Malaysia while it was still Malaya:

That’s all for today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for reading my blog, and as always, until our next adventure!