Not to be confused with Malays (ethnic group).
Malaysian people
Orang Malaysia

Malaysians work and dine in a 24-hour Mamak stall in Kuala Lumpur
Total population
(31,308,000 est
(excluding Malaysian diaspora)[1]
Malaysian diaspora
Regions with significant populations
 Christmas Island
Minority populations
More than 981[2]
 Singapore 385,979[3]
 Australia 92,337[4]
 Brunei 70,000[5][6]
 United Kingdom 63,000
 United States 26,179[7]
 China 15,000[8]
 New Zealand 14,547[9]
 Canada 12,165
 Taiwan 10,000[10]
 Japan 8,115[11]
 United Arab Emirates 6,000
 Qatar 5,000[12]
 India 2,500
Languages of Malaysia
Religion in Malaysia

Malaysians are the people who are identified with the country of Malaysia. This connection may be residential, legal, historical, or cultural. For most Malaysians, several (frequently all) of those types of connections exist and are the source(s) of their being considered Malaysians. Although citizens make up the majority of Malaysians, non-citizen residents and overseas Malaysians may also claim a Malaysian identity.[13]

The country is home to people of many different kinds of national origins and ethnicities. As a result, Malaysians do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance. The majority of the population in Malaysian soil is made up of immigrants and their descendants. Following the initial period of Portuguese, Dutch and then the much larger British colonisation, different waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over the course of nearly five centuries and continue today.

Malayan independence from Great Britain grew gradually over the course of many years since the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1948 (excluding Crown Colony of Singapore, Crown Colony of North Borneo and Crown Colony of Sarawak). World War II in particular gave rise to a desire amongst Malayans to have their country recognised as a fully-fledged sovereign state with a distinct citizenship.


As of 2010, Malaysians make up 0.4% of the world's total population, having relied upon immigration for population growth and social development. Approximately 30% of current Malaysians are first- or second-generation immigrants, and 20 percent of Malaysian residents in the 2000s were not born in Malaysian soil. It is estimated, by 2031, nearly one-half of Malaysians above the age of 15 will be foreign born or have one foreign born parent. Bumiputera, according to the 2010 Malaysian Census, numbered at 17,523,508 or 61.85% of the country's 28,334,135 population.


Citizenship and diaspora

Ethnic ancestry

Ethnic groups and citizenship

Classification of 2010 Census ethnic group is as set by Inter-Agency Technical Committee (IATC) in Appendix 1. IATC is a committee formed to co-ordinate and monitor the implementation and use of standardised codes, classifications and definitions used by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia and other government agencies. For the purpose of tabulation and analysis, as well as taking into account the diverse ethnic group in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Federal Territory of Labuan and Sarawak, major ethnic groups according to region as follows:

Peninsular Malaysia Sabah and
Federal Territory of Labuan
Malaysian Citizens






Other Bumiputera

  • Negrito
  • Senoi
  • Melayu Asli / Proto-Malay
  • Bajau
  • Balabak / Molbog
  • Bidayuh
  • Bisaya / Bisayah
  • Bukitan
  • Bulongan
  • Dusun
  • Iban
  • Idah / Ida'an
  • Iranun / Ilanun
  • Jawi Peranakan
  • Kadayan / Kedayan
  • Kadazan
  • Kajang
  • Kanowit
  • Kayan
  • Kejaman
  • Kelabit
  • Kenyah
  • Lahanan
  • Lisum
  • Lugat
  • Lun Bawang
  • Lundayuh / Lundayeh
  • Malay Bruneian
  • Melanau
  • Murut
  • Orang Sungai / Sungoi
  • Penan
  • Peranakan
  • Punan
  • Rungus
  • Sabup
  • Sekapan
  • Sian
  • Sipeng
  • Suluk / Tausug
  • Tabun
  • Tagal
  • Tanjong
  • Tidung
  • Ukit
  • Other Sabah Bumiputera
  • Other Sarawak Bumiputera


  • Cantonese
  • Foochow
  • Hainanese
  • Henghua
  • Hokchia
  • Hokchiu
  • Hokkien
  • Khek / Hakka
  • Kwongsai
  • Teochew / Chaoshanese
  • Other Chinese


  • Muslim Indian / Malabari
  • Malayali
  • Punjabi
  • Sikh
  • Sinhalese
  • Tamil Indian
  • Tamil Sri Lankan
  • Telugu
  • Other Indians


  • Arab
  • Bangladeshi
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian
  • Cocos Islander
  • Filipino
  • Indonesian
    • Acehnese
    • Banjarese
    • Batak
    • Buginese
    • Javanese
    • Mandailing
    • Minangkabau
    • Sundanese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Nepalese
  • Pakistani
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • Other Asian Nationality
  • British
  • Danish
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Scottish
  • Spanish
  • Other European Nationality
  • African
  • American
  • Australian
  • New Zealander
  • Eurasian
  • Other Nationality
Non-Malaysian Citizens
(including Permanent Residents)

Information collected in the census including ethnic group and citizenship was based on respondent's answer and did not refer to any official document.

Information on citizenship should be used with caution as it is subject to content and coverage errors especially for non-citizens as in censuses in most countries.



Main article: Languages of Malaysia

Malaysia contains speakers of 137 living languages,[14] 41 of which are found in Peninsula Malaysia.[15] Malaysian, or Standard Malay, is the official language, while English is considered the de facto administrative language. The Bumiputeras speak various Austronesian and Austroasiatic languages as well as smaller language families such as Tai-Kadai and Creoles. Chinese Malaysians predominantly speak varieties of Chinese from the southern provinces of China. The more common varieties in the country are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou. Tamil is the predominant language among Indian Malaysians, though languages like Telugu, Malayalam and Punjabi are also widely spoken.


Percentage distribution of Malaysian population by religion, 2010.
The percentage distribution of Malaysian population by religion based on 2010 census.

The Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion while making Islam the state religion.[16] According to the Population and Housing Census 2010 figures, ethnicity and religious beliefs correlate highly. Approximately 61.3% of the population practice Islam, 19.8% practice Buddhism, 9.2% Christianity, 6.3% Hinduism and 1.3% practice Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions. 0.7% declared no religion and the remaining 1.4% practised other religions or did not provide any information.


  1. "Malaysia Population Clock". Department of Statistics, Malaysia. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  2. Simone Dennis (2008). Christmas Island: An Anthropological Study. Cambria Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 9781604975109.
  3. "GE14: 500,000 Malaysian voters in Singapore to generate friction". The Malaysian Insider. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  4. "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  5. "Leveraging on Malaysian diaspora". The Star. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  6. Soong Siew Hoong (29 March 2012). "Some Statistics on Malaysian Working in Overseas Countries in OIC; Commonwealth; BRICS; PIIGS; UN" (PDF). Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  7. "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  8. Sara Cluster (21 August 2012). "Malaysia PM: study hard abroad and return home". The Pie News. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  9. "Table 8: New Zealand resident population born in Asia, 1986-2006" (PDF). Asia New Zealand Foundation. p. 12/14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  10. Lim Mun Fah (22 July 2010). "More expensive to study in China than Taiwan". AsiaOne. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  11. "Japan-Malaysia Relations (Basic Data)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan. 7 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  12. "Population of Qatar by nationality". Bq Magazine. 18 December 2013. Archived from the original on 23 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  13. Neville Spykerman; Michelle Tam; Victoria Brown (3 May 2015). "Survey: Most prefer to be known as Malaysian". The Star. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  14. "Ethnologue report for Malaysia". Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  15. "Ethnologue report for Malaysia (Peninsular)". Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  16. "Malaysia – Religion". Asian Studies Center - Michigan State University. Retrieved 13 July 2011.

Further reading

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