Open translate

Malaysia People - 2024


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


34,219,975 (2023 est.)


noun: Malaysian(s)

adjective: Malaysian

Ethnic groups

Bumiputera 63.8% (Malay 52.8% and indigenous peoples, including Orang Asli, Dayak, Anak Negeri, 11%), Chinese 20.6%, Indian 6%, other 0.6%, non-citizens 9% (2023 est.)


Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - Malaysia has 134 living languages - 112 indigenous languages and 22 non-indigenous languages; in East Malaysia, there are several indigenous languages; the most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan

major-language sample(s):
Buku Fakta Dunia, sumber yang diperlukan untuk maklumat asas. (Bahasa Malaysia)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Bahasa Malaysia audio sample:


Muslim (official) 63.5%, Buddhist 18.7%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.1%, other (Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions) 0.9, none/unspecified 1.8% (2020 est.)

Demographic profile

Malaysia’s multi-ethnic population consists of the bumiputera – Malays and other indigenous peoples – (62%), ethnic Chinese (21%), ethnic Indians (6%), and foreigners (10%).  The majority of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese and Indians trace their roots to the British colonialists’ recruitment of hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Indians as mine and plantation workers between the early-19th century and the 1930s.  Most Malays have maintained their rural lifestyle, while the entrepreneurial Chinese have achieved greater wealth and economic dominance.  In order to eradicate Malay poverty, the Malaysian Government in 1971 adopted policies that gave preference to the bumiputera in public university admissions, government jobs and contracts, and property ownership.  Affirmative action continues to benefit well-off urban bumiputera but has done little to alleviate poverty for their more numerous rural counterparts.  The policies have pushed ethnic Chinese and Indians to study at private or foreign universities (many do not return) and have created and sustained one of the world’s largest civil services, which is 85-90% Malay. 

The country’s age structure has changed significantly since the 1960s, as fertility and mortality rates have declined.  Malaysia’s total fertility rate (TFR) has dropped from 5 children per woman in 1970, to 3 in 1998, to 2.1 in 2015 as a result of increased educational attainment and labor participation among women, later marriages, increased use of contraception, and changes in family size preference related to urbanization.  The TFR is higher among Malays, rural residents (who are mainly Malay), the poor, and the less-educated.  Despite the reduced fertility rate, Malaysia’s population will continue to grow, albeit at a decreasing rate, for the next few decades because of its large number of reproductive-age women.  The youth population has been shrinking, and the working-age population (15-64 year olds) has been growing steadily.  Malaysia’s labor market has successfully absorbed the increasing number of job seekers, leading to sustained economic growth.  However, the favorable age structure is changing, and around 2020, Malaysia will start to become a rapidly aging society.  As the population ages, Malaysia will need to better educate and train its labor force, raise productivity, and continue to increase the number of women workers in order to further develop its economy.

More than 1.8 million Malaysians lived abroad as of 2015, including anywhere from 350,000 to 785,000 workers, more than half of whom have an advanced level of education.  The vast majority of emigrants are ethnic Chinese, seeking better educational and job opportunities abroad because of institutionalized ethnic discrimination favoring the Malays.  The primary destination country is nearby Singapore, followed by Bangladesh and Australia.  Hundreds of thousands of Malaysians also commute across the causeway to Singapore daily for work.

Brain drain is an impediment to Malaysia’s goal of becoming a high-income country.  The situation is compounded by a migrant inflow that is composed almost entirely of low-skilled laborers who work mainly in manufacturing, agriculture, and construction.  Officially, Malaysia had about 1.8 million legal foreign workers as of mid-year 2017 – largely from Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Bangladesh – but as many as 3 to 4 million are estimated to be in the country illegally.  Immigrants outnumber ethnic Indians and could supplant the ethnic Chinese as Malaysia’s second largest population group around 2035.

Age structure

0-14 years: 22.46% (male 3,952,311/female 3,734,607)

15-64 years: 69.42% (male 12,198,930/female 11,556,399)

65 years and over: 8.12% (2023 est.) (male 1,345,767/female 1,431,961)

2023 population pyramid:

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 43.3

youth dependency ratio: 32.9

elderly dependency ratio: 10.4

potential support ratio: 9.6 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 31.4 years (2023 est.)

male: 31.3 years

female: 31.5 years

Population growth rate

1.01% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

14.4 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

5.7 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

1.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

a highly uneven distribution with over 80% of the population residing on the Malay Peninsula


urban population: 78.7% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.87% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

8.622 million KUALA LUMPUR (capital), 1.086 million Johor Bahru, 857,000 Ipoh (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

21 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 6.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.1 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.4 years (2023 est.)

male: 74.8 years

female: 78.1 years

Total fertility rate

1.74 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

0.84 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

52.2% (2014)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.4% of population

rural: 90.7% of population

total: 97.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.6% of population

rural: 9.3% of population

total: 2.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

4.1% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

1.54 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99% of population

rural: N/A

total: N/A

unimproved: urban: 0.1% of population

rural: N/A

total: (2020 est.) NA

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

water contact diseases: leptospirosis

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

15.6% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.64 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.48 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.04 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.11 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 22.5% (2020 est.)

male: 43.8% (2020 est.)

female: 1.1% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

14.1% (2019)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

59.3% (2023 est.)

Education expenditures

3.9% of GDP (2020 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95%

male: 96.2%

female: 93.6% (2019)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2020)

NOTE: The information regarding Malaysia on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Malaysia 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Malaysia 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.