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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Malaysia

Geography

Malay Geography - Lok Kawi Beach
Lok Kawi Beach

Malaysia consists of the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and various other islands, including part of the island of Borneo. This Southeastern Asian country shares land borders with Thailand to the north on the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia to the south on the island of Borneo, and Brunei to the north on the island of Borneo. Malaysia also sits very close to the island nations of Singapore, which is just off the southern coast of the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines, which is off the northeast coast of Borneo.

Malaysia can be divided into a couple regions, most notably the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. Both of these areas are fairly mountainous. The mountains on the Malay Peninsula move down the narrow strip of land and eventually drop off into the water, at times making a very dramatic landscape. The island of Borneo is also mountainous, peaking on the Indonesian border in the south and becoming fairly flat on the north, where a number of rivers drain into the sea.

Weather

Malay Geography - Mt. Kinabalu
Mt. Kinabalu

Malaysia has quite different weather patterns due to the country's division between the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo (plus smaller islands). The peninsula has weather more similar to mainland Asia, while Borneo's weather better reflects that of Indonesia and the islands. Throughout Malaysia though there are a couple distinct seasons; from November to March the winds come from the northeast and bring in rain from the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean; this more strongly affects the Malay Peninsula. From about May to September the winds come from the south or southwest, bringing in drier air from Australia. A third differentiating factor in the weather is elevation. Throughout the country, at sea level temperatures range from about 72-90° F (22-32° C), while at elevation the temperatures tend to drop and the amount of rain increases; throughout the country though, rainfall amounts are very high.

Wildlife

Malay Geography - Tea plantation
Tea plantation

Malaysia, like much of Southeast Asia is loaded with wildlife diversity. The mammals present vary from large to small, ranging from the tiger, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, to the tapir, deer, boar, and even smaller to the bat, squirrel, and various monkeys. This diversity continues into the water, which cover many of Malaysia's coasts. There are numerous coral reefs off the coasts and these are home to thousands of fish and shellfish, such as tuna, mackerel, marlin, barracuda, crab, shrimp, and sharks.

The bird species are also quite diverse as hundreds of bird species call the country home or migrate to and from the country. Some of the more unusual or common birds include hornbills, woodpeckers, pittas, eagles, kingfishers, storks, and more. Among the reptiles and amphibians, the sea turtle is one attraction, while the snake is often avoided, but both are present in decent numbers. There are also various lizards, crocodiles, and frogs in smaller numbers. Malaysia is home to thousands of insect, with the butterfly being one of the better attractions.

This page was last updated: March, 2013