Malaysia is located in the heart of Southeast Asia at world's major crossroads. Malaysia’s location has always played a key role to trade routes from Europe, the Orient, India and China. Even its warm tropical climate and rich natural blessings made it a friendly destination for immigrants as early as 5,000 years ago. Malaysia history has seen ancestors of the Orang Asli, the native peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, settle here, possibly the founders of a general movement from China and Tibet. They were followed by the Malays, who brought along skills in farming and the use of metals when they settled here.
Malaysia history around the first century BC saw strong trading links being established with China and India, and these had a major impact on the culture, language and social customs of the country. Evidence of a Hindu-Buddhist period in the history of Malaysia can today be found in the temple sites of the Bujang Valley and Merbok Estuary in Kedah in the north west of Peninsular Malaysia, near the Thai border. The spread of Islam, introduced by Arab and Indian traders, brought the Hindu-Buddhist era to an end by the 13th century. With the conversion of the Malay-Hindu rulers of the Melaka Sultanate, Islam was established as the religion of the Malays, and had deep effect on Malay society. During this time the history of Malaysia saw various changes.
The country witnessed a dramatic change with the arrival of Europeans in Malaysia. The Portuguese captured Malaka in the year 1511, and the rulers of the Melaka Sultanate fled to south to Johor where they tried to found a new kingdom. They were opposed not only by the Europeans but by the Acehnese, Minangkabau and the Bugis, resulting in the sovereign units of the present-day states of Peninsular Malaysia. The Portuguese were in turn defeated in 1641 by the Dutch, who colonized Melaka until the advent of the British in the Dutch exerted any profound influence on Malay society. The British acquired Melaka from the Dutch in 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra. From their new bases, the British, through their influence and power, began the process of political intergration of the Malay states of Peninsular Malaysia.
After the World War II ended and the Japanese occupation from 1941-45, the British fashioned the Malayan Union in 1946. This ended in 1948 and instead the Federation of Malaya surfaced in its place. The Federation gained its independence from Britain on 31 August 1957.In the year September 1963, Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form Malaysia, a country whose hodgepodge of society and customs derives from its rich heritage from four of the world's major cultures - Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Western.