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Malaysia Geography


Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, with an area of 329,750 km² (127,317 mi²), consists of two non-contiguous areas: Peninsular Malaysia, on the Asian mainland, and the states of Sarawak and Sabah, known together as East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Comparatively, the area occupied by Malaysia is slightly larger than Norway, or the state of New Mexico, USA. Peninsular Malaysia, protruding southward from the mainland of Asia, comprises an area of 131,587 km² (50,806 mi²), extending 748 km (465 mi) south-southeast to north-northwest, and 322 km (200 mi) east-northeast to west-southwest. It is bordered on the north by Thailand, on the east by the South China Sea, on the south by the Strait of Johor, and on the west by the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, with a total boundary length of 2,068 km (1,285 mi).

Sarawak, covering an area of 124,449 km² (48,050 mi²), on the northwest coast of Borneo, extends 679 km (422 mi) north-northeast to south-southwest, and 254 km (158 mi) east-southeast to west-northwest. It is bounded by Brunei on the north, Sabah on the northeast, Indonesia on the east and south, and the South China Sea on the west. Sarawak's total boundary length is 2,621 km (1,629 mi). Situated at the northern end of Borneo, Sabah has an area of 74,398 km² (28,725 mi²), with a length of 412 km (256 mi) east to west, and a width of 328 km (204 mi) north to south. To the north is the Balabac Strait, to the northeast the Sulu Sea, to the southeast the Celebes Sea, to the south Indonesia, to the southwest Sarawak, and to the west the South China Sea, with a total boundary length of 2,008 km (1,248 mi). the total boundary length of Malaysia is 7,344 km (4,563 mi), of which 4,675 km (2,905 mi) is coastline.

Malaysia claims several atolls of the Spratly Island group in the South China Sea. The claim, in a region where oil is suspected, is disputed by China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is located in the western part of peninsular Malaysia.

Four-fifths of peninsular Malaysia is covered by rain forest and swamp. The northern regions are divided by a series of mountain ranges that rise abruptly from the wide, flat coastal plains. The highest peaks, Gunung Tahan (2,187 m/7,174 ft) and Gunung Korbu (2,183 m/7,162 ft), are in the north central region. The main watershed follows a mountain range about 80 km (50 mi) inland, roughly parallel to the west coast. the rivers flowing to the east, south, and west of this range are swift and have cut some deep gorges, but on reaching the coastal plains they become sluggish. The western coastal plain contains most of the country's population and the main seaports, George Town and Klang. The eastern coastal plain is mostly jungle and lightly settled. It is subject to heavy storms from the South China Sea and lacks natural harbours.

Sarawak consists of an alluvial and swampy coastal plain, an area of rolling country interspersed with mountain ranges, and a mountainous interior. Rain forests cover the greater part of Sarawak. Many of the rivers are navigable. Sabah is split in two by the Crocker Mountains, which extend north and south some 48 km (30 mi) inland from the west coast, rising to over 4,101 m (13,455 ft) at Mt Kinabalu, the highest point in Malaysia. Most of the interior is covered with tropical forest, while the western coastal area consists of alluvial flats making up the main rubber and rice land.

The climate of Peninsular Malaysia is equatorial, characterised by fairly high but uniform temperatures (23-31°C/73-88°F) throughout the year, high humidity, and copious rainfall averaging about 250 cm/100 in annually. There are seasonal variations in rainfall, with the heaviest rains from October to December or January; except for a few mountain areas, the most abundant rainfall is in the eastern coastal region, where it averages over 300 cm (120 in) per year. Elsewhere the annual average is 200-300 cm (80-120 in), the northwestern and southwestern regions having the least rainfall. The nights are usually cool because of the nearby seas. the climate of East Malaysia is relatively cool for an area so near the equator.

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