This diversity is reflected in its economy, politics, social systems, and culture. In the 1300s, Sri Vijjaya fell and the Majapahit Empire controlled Malaysia.
The first people to inhabit the Malaysia peninsula, the Malays, came down from South China around 2000 B. The Muslims began to dominate the peninsula around 1400 when a fugitive slave from Singapore founded a principality at Malacca.
In 1957, the Federation of Malay became an independent member of the British Commonwealth.
This Muslim principality fell to Portugal in 1511, and in 1641, the Dutch took control from the Portuguese.
The British East India Company entered the peninsula in 1786, and in 1819, the British established a settlement at Singapore. In 1895 four states became the Federated Malay States.
Malaysia has a combined land area of 329, 760 square kilometers and is similar in size to New Mexico in the United States.
As of 2001, the multiracial population of peninsular Malaysia was estimated at 22,229,040.
There are three main ethnic groups: the Ma-lays, called Bumiputera ("sons of the soil," 58 percent); Chinese (30 percent); the Indians (10 percent), and others (10 percent).