HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
According to Localcollegeexplorer, Malaysia is a state of Southeast Asia. At the 2000 census the population was 23,274,690. (25,347,000 according to a 2005 estimate), with a density of 76.8 residents / km 2. Ethnic and religious heterogeneity remains marked: Malaysians, for the most part Muslims, represent more than half of the total population, the Chinese 24 % and the Indians 7 %. The urbanization rate is high; the capital, Kuala Lumpur, had 1,352,000 residents in 2003, but over 4 million in the metropolitan area.
In the early 2000s, despite the recurrence of negative events (SARS epidemic, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ; tsunami), Malaysia continued to record a moderate economic balance (+ 4.1 % in 2002, + 5.3 % in 2003, + 7.1 % in 2004 and + 5.3 % in 2005), thanks to domestic demand and good export performance, supported both by the global recovery of the electronics sector and by the devaluation of the national currency. Even in the presence of a positive global picture, there is no shortage of uncertainties about the duration of growth: the decline in investments, the relocation of the electronics industry, the largest production sector in the country, push to plan an economic diversification based essentially on the development of transport and tourism.. To this end, the government has decided to pay particular attention to infrastructures, especially port and airport infrastructures (the international airport of Kuala Lumpur, opened in 1998, is able to accommodate 25 million passengers per year), aiming to transform Malaysia into a regional platform for international trade, competing with Singapore.
The presence of numerous raw materials (in particular, oil and natural gas) has allowed the development of a competitive manufacturing industry; the primary sector also boasts its primates, such as the widespread cultivation of oil palm and Hevea brasiliensis, from whose plantations (85 % located in the peninsular part of the country) annually over 1 million tonnes of rubber is obtained.
The political dominance of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), expression of the Malaysian community in power since 1963, remained uncontested even in the early 2000s, despite the fact that clear signs of dissatisfaction began to emerge in civil society and internal contradictions never became more evident. completely outdated. The demand for greater democracy was growing among the Malaysian middle classes, whose affirmation was favored precisely by government policies aimed at supporting their development, while the ethnic-religious contrasts influenced by the new international climate and the slowdown in economic growth were rekindled. caused by the collapse of Asian economies in the second half of the 1990s.
The popularity of Malaysia Mahathir, leader of the UMNO and head of the executive since 1981, began to decline precisely in conjunction with the growing economic difficulties, which highlighted the limits of a policy still largely subject to arbitrariness and corruption despite the impetus given to the modernization of the country and the overall improvement of the standard of living. The dismissal (1998) and sentencing of I. Anwar (1999), finance minister since 1991 and deputy prime minister since 1993, who had criticized the work of the head of the executive, split the Malaysian community and started a protest movement for the implementation of democratic reforms whose demonstrations were severely repressed by the police. On the political level, this resulted in the decline, albeit slight, of the Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front, coalition of governing parties) in the early elections of Nov. 1999, although the conquest of 148 seats against 42 of the opposition gathered in the Barisan Alternatif (BA, Alternative Front) left the balance unchanged. In the following years, the urgency of adopting a less centralized policy more open to the demands of civil society also began to manifest itself within the UMNO, while intolerance towards the clientelistic practices of the public administration grew. In June 2002, Mahathir suddenly announced his upcoming retirement from the political scene and named his Deputy Prime Minister AA Badawi as his successor. The latter, assumed the post (Oct. 2003), launched a campaign against corruption which led to the arrest of numerous politicians, including some members of the government, and tried to relaunch the party’s image as a guarantor of development and internal stability. This produced a new affirmation of the BN in the legislative elections of March 2004, in which it obtained 198 seats compared to the 20 won by the BA. Legitimated by the electoral success, Badawi reaffirmed his program of moralization and strengthening of democratic practices, proposing an internal pacification plan based on the promotion of greater ethnic and religious integration. The liberation of Anwar in Sept. 2004 in this context it acquired an emblematic value, even if during 2005 the repression against the opposition continued and there was a growing influence of the most fundamentalist religious movements; in December 2005 passed an amendment to Islamic family law that made polygamy easier for men, and during 2006 women’s rights movements denounced marked discrimination against non-Muslim women. In foreign policy, Malaysia improved relations with the ASEAN countries (Association of South-East Asian Nations), while those with Western countries, and in particular with the United States, although marked by substantial collaboration, were more contrasted. The government condemned the attacks of 11 Sept. 2001 in New York and Washington and severely repressed all attempts at propaganda and action by internal Islamic extremists; however, he criticized the military interventions in Afghānistān and ̔Irāq, considered arbitrary and illegitimate.