The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics.
Its healthcare services have been highly regarded as one the best in the world and the UN Development Programme has called Malaysia healthcare system "a model to other developing countries".
Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years.
The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.
Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand at the north and maritime borders with Singapore at the south, Vietnam at the northeast, and Indonesia in the west.
East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam.