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Country Reports

Malaysia Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

The majority of trips to the economically dynamic Southeast Asian country of Malaysia (population 30 million) take place without incident. This explains in part why, in recent years, the country has become a top tourist destination (27 million foreigner visitors per year on average).

SECURITY

Nevertheless, some Western governments formally advise against travel to the eastern regions in the state of Sabah (Borneo Island). Travelers are also advised to avoid coastal regions in southeast Sabah, including Sipadan and Lankayan islands, where the Filipino terrorist group Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped foreign citizens in the past.

Many Western governments warn their citizens that over the past two years, Malaysian security forces carried out more than 150 arrests of individuals suspected of terrorism (in connection to Islamic State [IS]), of which some are alleged to have been targeting places frequented by Westerners in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

It should also be noted that acts of piracy take place along the coast, particularly in the Strait of Malacca.

Travelers are also advised to stay away from the northwest of the country due to the deterioration of security in neighboring Thailand (separatist violence; terrorism).

CULTURE and SOCIETY

As Malaysia is a majority Muslim country, travelers are advised to dress modestly and to respect local customs. Over the past few years, tensions between Muslim and Christian communities have increased, leading to relatively frequent violent clashes and vandalism at places of worship. On October 22, 2011, anti-Christian rallies took place in Shah Alam (600,000 residents; eighth-largest city in the country and capital of Selangor state). On January 26, 2014, a Catholic church in Penang (northwest) was attacked by individuals wielding Molotov cocktails.

POLITICS

The national political scene is diverse, active, and divided. Political protests occur often and demonstrations make for large, well-attended events (see the opposition demonstrations in March 2015). Political parades and processions are frequently held in the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and will hold its next general elections in 2019.

HEALTH

Health conditions in Malaysia are less than ideal. Dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, foot-and-mouth disease, and avian flu are all present in the country outside of large urban areas, particularly in the states of Johor, Perak, Malacca, and Negeri Sembilan. Dengue fever is also endemic in Kuala Lumpur.

NATURAL RISKS

Malaysia is located in an active seismic zone and was hit by the December 2004 tsunami that devastated the region.

Visitors should also be aware that the monsoon season - often responsible for devastating floods - lasts from April until October in the southwest and from October until February in the northeast.

The common practice in nearby Indonesia of burning farmland to make it more fertile has also led to an increase in air pollution in Malaysia, which could harm the health of visitors. Air pollution could also disrupt air travel in the country.

TRANSPORTATION

Finally, visitors should be aware that Malaysia is home to one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world.

Climate

Malaysia's climate is equatorial, hot and humid throughout the year. Rain storms strike regularly and are sometimes violent. Thunderstorms are the most intense between August and November along the western coast and are often accompanied by strong winds. From December until February the east coast is particularly wet, with frequent torrential rains and floods. The temperature of the ocean remains constant throughout the year at 28°C.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +60 Police, Ambulance: 999 Fire Dept.: 994

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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