The Malaysian archipelago spreads across the Strait of Malacca, holding 27 million people across its three federal territories and thirteen states.
If this sounds complex, it ought to, because the country has a long and fraught history during which it has had a constant struggle to maintain unity and sovereignty.
The area really is a melting pot of many different, smaller cultures and cliques that have somehow agreed to operate under the one national banner.
Bordering on Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, it is easy to see why Malaysia is such a diverse and interesting place.
For the traveler, modern Malaysia has much to offer and overrides the old myth that it is an uneventful country that can sometimes be boring.
In fact, the numerous exotic locations suitable for visiting are growing in popularity every year, as more and more people realise what is on offer.
You could start by island hopping, followed by a trek through grasslands full of animals, switch over to checking out some decaying ruins, before finishing off with the growing urban chic of the country’s top cities.
Sitting pretty in the country’s northwest corner, Penang (properly called Pulau Pinang) made its name as a port during the days of the British East India Company and soon developed into a hub of commerce and culture.
Today, it is an area at the forefront of Malaysia’s technology push, hosting cutting edge businesses.
As you make your way through the area’s capital, Georgetown, you will enjoy colourful Chinese influences, terrific street markets and a lively hotel and restaurant scene.
The jewel of Malaysian Borneo, Sarawak is a great expanse of jungle and mountains. This place looks like it has come straight out of a travel magazine, and its features don’t disappoint. Several national parks feature truly remarkable cave complexes – the kind that make you believe buried treasure lies within. Trekking is definitely an option, as long as you are prepared to rough it Amazon-style. Kuching is not to be missed; a cosmopolitan city with great versatility in cuisine and strong links to the past.
At the turn of the 20th century, tea planters made their way to this high region, changing its face forever after and creating a fascinating location for industry.
The highlands are still the largest tea-producing region in the country and are a cornerstone of the national economy.
Visitors head here to take in the brilliant mountain air, see the plantations come to life and stroll through the produce markets that run every week.