Races & Culture

Malaysians overview

Malaysians are nationals and citizens who are identified with the country of Malaysia.

The Malaya Peninsula has become a popular trading place for various merchants due to its natural resources ever since the Malacca Dynasty up till now. As such, a lot of people from different countries or nations have visited and stayed in the Malaya Peninsula which forms the multi ethnic society that we have today in Malaysia.

The country is home to people of various national, ethnic and religious origins. As a result, many Malaysians do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance to Malaysia. Majority of the population, however, belong to several clearly defined ethnolinguistic groups within the country with their own distinct cultures and traditions: Malays, Malaysian Chinese (primarily Han Chinese) and Malaysian Indians (primarily Tamils).



Malaysian Malays (Malaysian: Melayu Malaysia, Jawi: ملايو مليسيا) are Malaysians of Malay ethnicity whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in the Malay world. In 2015 population estimate, with the total population of 15.7 million, Malaysian Malays form 50.8% of Malaysia’s demographics, the largest ethnic group in the country.



Malaysian Chinese people or Chinese Malaysians[6] (Chinese: 馬來西亞華人; Malay: Orang Cina Malaysia), are a local ethnic group in Malaysia. The group is defined as Malaysian citizens of Chinese (Han Chinese) ethnicity. Today, they form the second largest ethnic group after the Malay majority, constituting 23% of the Malaysian population. Most are descendants of Southern Chinese immigrants who arrived in Malaysia between the early 19th century and the mid-20th century.

The sub-ethnic groups of Malaysian Chinese includes Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew, Hainan, Foochow and Kwongsai. Malaysian Chinese also form the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world, after Thai Chinese.



Malaysian Indians or Indian Malaysians, are a local ethnic group in Malaysia. The group is defined as local Malaysians of Indian or South Asian ancestry. Today, they form the third largest group in Malaysia after the Malays and the Chinese. Most are descendants of those who migrated from India to Malaysia during the British colonisation of Malaya.

Majority of 1,831,200 with 80% Malaysian Indians are Tamil people ethnic from Tamil Nadu, with other smaller groups such as the Malayalees, Telugus, Sikhs and others. Malaysian Indians form the 5th largest community of Overseas Indians in the world. Within Malaysia, they represent the third largest group (constituting 7% of the Malaysian population), after the ethnic Malay and Chinese.[4] They are usually simply referred to as “Indian” in Malaysia, Orang India in Malay, “Yin du ren” in Chinese.