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The Malacca sultanate ruled over the region in earlier days. During the 13th century, it was famous for its port, a major commercial hub.

Indian traders chose Malacca because of its advantageous location that sheltered from strong monsoon winds. Spices and other precious goods were the main commodities traded at this new port. In 1511, the Portuguese invaded Malacca. Later, in 1641, the Dutch defeated the Portuguese and reigned until 1815 when the British Empire took over. In 1826, the British ruled and consolidated Penang, Singapore and Malacca under one administration unit called the Colony of the Straits Settlement.

After World War II, there was a resurgence of Malayan nationalism leading to the Declaration of Independence for the Federation of Malaya from the British Empire on August 31, 1957.

This movement was led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who later became Malaysia's first Prime Minister. Malaysia, at the time, comprised 13 states (including Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak) and two federal territories were formed in 1963. This formation was opposed by Indonesia, which resulted in a confrontation. The conflict ended with the fall of Indonesia's President Sukarno. Singapore later withdrew from the Federation in 1965.

Malaysia's capital city is Kuala Lumpur and the new administrative center is in Putrajaya, a 30-minutes drive from the capital.

Although Bahasa Malaysia is the official language, English is widely spoken.

The official religion of Malaysia is Islam. The nation has temples, mosques, churches and other places of worship.