Malaysia History

History of Malaysia has a rich historical background and the path of Malaysia history has been influenced by its strategic position, its tropical climate, the surrounding environment and the rule of the north-east and south-west monsoons. In the north, Kedah is reputed to be the most ancient State in the country. Archaeological findings at Bujang Valley furnish evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist civilization that dates back to 300 AD. It has prospered as an important centre of trade and commerce until the 13th century and it diminished in importance.

History of Malaysia can be categorised in four successive phases of outside influence, followed by the final declarartion of Malay independence.

  • The first phase witnesses the domination of Hindu culture imported from India, which reached its peak in the great Srivijaya civilisation based in Sumatra, which ruled most of the Malay world from the 7th to the 14th centuries.
  • With the arrival of Islam the second phase started, which began in the 10th century, and led to the conversion of most of the Malay-Indonesian world and the breakup of the Srivijayan empire into many smaller sultanates, the most prominent of which was the Melaka (Malacca). Islamic culture has had a profound influence on the Malay people, but has also been influenced by them.
  • The third phase saw the imposition of the European colonial powers in the region. Initially the Portuguese, captured Melaka in 1511, then the Dutch and finally the British, who established bases at Penang and Singapore. European domination led to the most fateful event in Malay history – the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824, which drew a frontier between British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies, which became Indonesia. This arbitrary division of the Malay world has proved permanent.
  • European domination also led to the fourth phase of foreign influence: the mass immigration of Chinese and Indian workers to meet the needs of the colonial economy created by the British in the Malay Peninsula and North Borneo. The Chinese and Indians posed a profound threat to the Malays, dominating economic life and the professions, and at one time threatening to make the Malays a minority in their own country.

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