Malaysia is in southeast Asia, its western part being on the Malay Peninsula and the eastern on the island of Borneo; its neighbours are Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand. It has a population of around 32m, of whom over 7m live in the metropolitan area of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaya was a British colony until gaining independence as a federation of territories in 1957; it took the name Malaysia in 1963. Today, the country is composed of 13 states and three federal territories.
Legislative power is distributed between the federation and the states. Nevertheless, federal law is generally prevalent; states have little control over many matters but can regulate on areas that might affect e-cigarettes such as retail outlets.
Malaysia is a federal representative democratic constitutional monarchy, whose head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is elected by the Conference of Rulers (Malaysia has nine different royal families that elect a primus inter pares among them). The head of state appoints the prime minister from among the main parties of the House of Representatives. The bicameral parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives, directly elected by simple majority to serve five-year terms.
The country has evolved since the 1970s from a producer of raw materials into a multi-sector economy and a middle-income country with a GDP per capita of $9951.50, similar to that of Brazil. The national currency is the Malaysian ringgit (MYR).
It is a very diverse country with different ethnic groups (mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian groups), religions (principally Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism) and languages (Bahasa Malaysia and English are the official languages).