Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 330,803 square kilometers (127,720 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand in the north and maritime borders with Singapore in the south, Vietnam in 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. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. Located in the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species. Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates. The territories on Peninsular Malaysia were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. Less than two years later in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in its politics. About half the population is ethnically Malay, with large minorities of Malaysian Chinese (the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world), Malaysian Indians, and indigenous peoples. The constitution grants freedom of religion but recognizes Islam as the established religion of the state. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister. The country's official language is Bahasa Melayu, commonly known as the Malay language. English remains an active second language. In 2017 English proficiency in Malaysia was ranked the 2nd best in Asia (after Singapore) and the 13th best in the world. 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 fueled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. It is also one of the few developing countries to heavily subsidies education and healthcare. Malaysian citizens are entitled to free public education up to secondary level and public tertiary education fees are subsidized by up to 90%. Basic healthcare services at government run clinics with prescription cost RM1. Disabled, senior citizens and public school students are entitled to free healthcare. Malaysian healthcare services have been regarded as among the best in the world and the UN Development Program called the Malaysian healthcare system.
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