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The Malaysian flag is known as Jalur Gemilang, which in Malay means “stripes of glory.” The 14 stripes represent the 13 member states and the federal government. The star with its 14 points depicts the unity between the 14 entities. The crescent moon represents Islam, the country’s official religion. Blue is a color of unity, and yellow is the royal color.

Malaysia went from being ranked 16th in ease of doing business by the World Bank in 2013 to 6th in the latest findings—in part, because the government is interested in increasing entrepreneurship.

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Government: Constitutional monarchy (a king with a five-year reign; however, the head of government is the prime minister)

Location: Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei and the South China Sea.

Official language: Bahasa Malaysia (however, as a result of British colonialism, English is widely understood)

Official religion: Muslim (61%)

Population: 30 million

Urban population: 73%

Time difference: 13 hours ahead of EST

GDP: $525 billion

Economy: Considered middle-income country

Ease of doing business ranking: 6 (out of 189 economies) up from 16th last year

Ease of starting a business ranking: 16

Rank on Global Peace Index: 29th

Labor force: 31.19 million

Unemployment rate: 3.1%

Greetings: Handshakes tend to last longer—10 to 12 seconds as opposed to 3 to 4 seconds for U.S. preference. Women should not shake men’s hands unless they are sure the men are Westernized (if a traditional Muslim man is touched by a woman he must go through a ritual of cleansing before he can pray)

Franchise Association: Malaysian Franchise Association can be reached at www.mfa.org.my/newmfa (but note: Content is not in English)

U.S. Commercial Service office: U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur (Phone: +60-3-2168-5000; email: office.kualalumpur@trade.gov

Visa: Not required 

Passport: Of course; be sure to keep it on you at all times

American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham): http://www.amcham.com.my;
Tel: +603 2283 3407

Internet usage: 67% of population in 2013 (usage increased 51% in 2013, thanks in part to a government program that offered a rebate to lower-income young adults on the purchase of a smartphone.)

Electricity production: 118 billion (kWh)

Country phone code: 60

Addressing the government: All official correspondence with government officials must be in Bahasa Malaysia.

Nationality of the largest percentage of businesspeople: Chinese.

Cuisine: Popular ingredients include chili peppers; belacan (shrimp paste with a pungent odor before it’s cooked); coconut (oil, milk and water); gula melaka (unrefined sugar produced from the sap of the coconut flower); rice, noodles and confee (a type of rice porridge).

Examples of local franchises: Poh Kong Jewellery; Calfarme, “the washroom professionals;” Ms Read, a trendy clothing store for women sizes 12-24; World of Cartoons, specialty retailer of cartoon apparel (such as Winnie the Pooh and Looney Tunes).

Climate: Tropical with likelihood of monsoons

Sources: Wikipedia, CIA World Fact Book, Kiss, Bow or Shakes Hands, U.S. Commercial Service, World Bank Group, Malaysiabizadvisory.com 

Capital of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, often abbreviated as K.L., is the most populous city in Malaysia with an estimated 1.6 million in 2010. It is the seat of the Parliament; but the executive and judicial branches of the federal government were moved to Putrajaua in early 1999. The city’s 88-floor Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world, and a symbol of Malaysia’s futuristic development. Kuala Lumpur’s motto is Maju dan Makmur, which in English means, “Progress and Prosper.” The highly urbanized Singapore, which was once part of Malaysia, is off the tip of the peninsula.

Currency: Ringgits
Exchange rate: 1 U.S. dollar to 3.18 Ringgits

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