The Malay are Malaysia's largest ethnic group, accounting for over half the population and the national language. With the oldest indigenous peoples they form a group called bumiputera, which translates as "sons" or "princes of the soil." Almost all Malays are Muslims, though Islam here is less extreme than in the Middle East. Traditional Malay culture centers around the kampung, or village, though today one is just as likely to find Malays in the cities.
Indians had been visiting Malaysia for over 2,000 years, but did not settle en masse until the 19th century. Most came from South India, fleeing a poor economy. Arriving in Malaysia, many worked as rubber tappers, while others built the infrastructure or worked as administrators and small businessmen. Today ten percent of Malaysia is Indian. Their culture with it's exquisite Hindu temples, cuisine, and colorful garments is visible throughout the land.
The Chinese traded with Malaysia for centuries, then settled in number during the 19th century when word of riches in the Nanyang, or "South Seas," spread across China. Though perhaps a stereotype, the Chinese are regarded as Malaysia's businessmen, having succeeded in many industries. When they first arrived, however, Chinese often worked the most grueling jobs like tin mining and railway construction. Most Chinese are Tao Buddhist and retain strong ties to their ancestral homeland. They form about 35 percent of the population.
The oldest inhabitants of Malaysia are its tribal peoples. They account for about 5 percent of the total population, and represent a majority in Sarawak and Sabah. Though Malaysia's tribal people prefer to be categorized by their individual tribes, peninsular Malaysia blankets them under the term Orang Asli, or "Original People." In Sarawak, the dominant tribal groups are the Dayak, who typically live in longhouses and are either Iban (Sea Dayak) or Bidayuh (land Dayak). In Sabah, most tribes fall under the term Kadazan. All of Malaysia's tribal people generally share a strong spiritual tie to the rain forest.
Copyright Jean-Marc Michel. Use of any image is strictly forbidden without my explicit written permission.
The images on the site are available for sale as fine art prints and also as stock images.
For more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org