Malaysia/People

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Malaysia's population of 22.7 million (1999) continues to grow at a rate of 2.4% per annum; about 34% of the population is under the age of 15. Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, with the politically dominant Malays comprising a plurality. By constitutional definition, all Malays are Muslim. About a quarter of the population is Chinese who have historically played an important role in trade and business.

Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 7% of the population and include Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians. About 85% of the Indian community is Tamil.

Non-Malay indigenous groups make up more than half of Sarawak's population and about 66% of Sabah's. They are divided into dozens of ethnic groups, but they share some general patterns of living and culture. Until the 20th century, most practiced traditional beliefs, but many have become Christian or Muslim. The "other" category includes Malaysians of, inter alia, European and Middle Eastern descent. Population distribution is uneven, with some 15 million residents concentrated in the lowlands of Peninsular Malaysia, an area slightly smaller than the State of Michigan.

Population: 21,793,293 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (male 3,914,112; female 3,697,731)
15-64 years: 61% (male 6,655,506; female 6,642,073)
65 years and over: 4% (male 386,387; female 497,484) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.01% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 25.3 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 5.25 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
note: does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 20.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.83 years
male: 68.22 years
female: 73.63 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.29 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Malaysian(s)
adjective: Malaysian

Ethnic groups: Malay and other indigenous 58%, Chinese 26%, Indian 7%, others 9%

Religions: Islam, Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism; note - in addition, Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia

Languages: Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Thai; note - in addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest of which are Iban and Kadazan

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.5%
male: 89.1%
female: 78.1% (1995 est.)