Ethnic Groups: Malay 50.1%, Chinese 22.6%, Indigenous 11.8%, Indian 6.7%, other 0.7%, non-citizens 8.2% (2010 est.)
Muslim 61.3%, Buddhist
6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions 1.3%, Other or Unspecified 1.4% (2010 census)
GDP (purchasing power parity): $863.8 billion (2016 est.)
GDP per capita: $27,300 (2016 est.)
Unemployment: 3.3% (2016 est.)
Malaysia is made up of two noncontiguous regions: West Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula, which consists of 11 states, and East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, which consists of two states.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, has received media attention in connection with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah is a distant relative and Ibrahim supporter.
During World War II
occupies the British protectorates Malaya and Borneo.
1946 - The Malayan Union is established and is originally comprised of 11 states.
1948 - The Malayan Union becomes the Federation of Malaya.
1957 - The Federation of Malaya becomes independent of Great Britain.
September 16, 1963 - Malaysia is established and it includes the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, and the Sarawak and Sabah colonies.
September 17, 1963 - The Philippines severs diplomatic relations with Malaysia due to disagreements over territory in Sabah.
April 23, 1964 - The Malaysian Defense Ministry reports that Indonesian terrorists and guerillas were behind the deaths of nearly three dozen Malaysians between September and March.
May 1964 - The Philippines and Malaysia resume diplomatic relations with consular missions in Manila and Kuala Lumpur.
November 19, 1964 - Malaysia bans Indonesian-bound ships and planes carrying weapons and ammunition from its airfields and ports.
August 1965 - Singapore breaks away from the Malaysian federation.
July 1981 -
Mahathir bin Mohamad becomes Malaysia's fourth prime minister, minister of home affairs and minister of justice.
2009 - Prime Minister Najib Razak takes office; he is the son and nephew of former prime ministers.
July 18, 2011 -
After a meeting between Prime Minister Najib and Pope Benedict XVI
, Malaysia becomes the 179th country to establish official diplomatic ties with the Vatican.
April 11, 2012 - Paramount Ruler Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah takes office as head of state.
January 2014 - Following a lengthy court battle that began in 1998, opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim is acquitted of a sodomy charged.
March 8, 2014 - Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
, traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappears from radar in airspace over the Gulf of Thailand.
March 15, 2014 -
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Najib announces that Flight 370 veered off course due to a deliberate action
July 17, 2014 -
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashes in eastern Ukraine
after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile, according to the United States.
All 298 people aboard are killed.
February 10, 2015 -
Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy conviction
is upheld in Malaysia's Federal Court.
March 8, 2016 -
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announces to Parliament that Malaysian authorities foiled an ISIS plot to kidnap Prime Minister
Najib, along with two other ranking officials, in January.
November 19, 2016 -
Thousands of people take to the streets of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, to call for the resignation of Prime Minister
Najib. Public dissatisfaction with Najib has grown, especially after news broke over alleged financial mismanagement of a government-run fund.