Kuala Lumpur ~ People & Culture
Kuala Lumpur Insights


One of the things you will find most fascinating about Kuala Lumpur is its people and culture. A multi-racial community settled in various sections of town. The ethnic makeup of KL's population varies from the overall national pattern, reflecting the city's origins as a Chinese settlement.
KL's multi-racial make-up
Whereas ethnic Malays are in the majority nationally, ethnic Chinese constitute the predominant group in KL. The city also has a large Malay population and a substantial ethnic Indian minority. There are also smaller communities of Sikhs, Eurasians, Europeans as well as an ever increasing number of migrants.

Population of Kuala Lumpur - Approximately 2 Million
Malay - 38% / Chinese - 43% / Indians 10% / Foreign residents - 9%
People Below 15 Years - 27% / People Below 15 - 59 Years - 67%
People above 59 Years - 6%

Malaysia’s biggest advantage is its multicultural people and Kuala Lumpur represents this in its multi–ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society. The multiculturalism has made Malaysia home to hundreds of colourful festivities. The many ethnic groups in Malaysia still maintain separate cultural identities as such they are many holidays and festivals that are ceebrated.

The principal languages include Malay which is the national Language - also known as "Bahasa Malaysia", Chinese, and Tamil (an Indian language); English is widely spoken and used. Religion-wise, Islam is the national observed by the majority Malays, while Buddhism, Chritianity, and Hinduism are the principal religions practiced by Chinese, Indians and others respectively.

The Malays
The Malays are known for their gentle mannerisms and rich artistic heritage. The Malays practices Islam and mostly speak only the Malay language. Malays in the city are in the government and Government linked sectors and increasingly in commerce.

The Chinese
The Chinese were the earliest settlers in the city. When they first arrived, however, Chinese often worked the most gruelling jobs like tin mining and construction. Known for their diligence and keen business sense and having succeeded in many industries, they are mainly in business, commerce and in the private sectors. Chinese here are mainly Cantonese and the main dialect spoken is Cantonese, and Mandarin. Most Chinese are Taoists, Buddhist or Christians.

The Indians
The smallest of three main ethnic groups, most are descendants of Tamil-speaking South Indian immigrants who came to the country during the British colonial rule. many worked as rubber tappers, while others built the infrastructure or worked as administrators and small businessmen. They are now mainly in the service sectors. Being mainly Hindus with some of the Christian or Muslim faith, the main Indian dialect spoken is Tamil. The Indians brought with them their colourful culture such as ornate temples, spicy cuisine and exquisite saris.

All different but still Malaysians

Other minorities include the Sikhs, Europeans and Eurasians, who are descendants of marriages among the British, Dutch and Portuguese and the locals.

KL's metropolitan area also has its fair share of expats as well as large numbers of immigrants from nearby nations, especially Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

This multicultural diversity offers a colourful array of places of worship, arts, language, dances and delightful cuisines, all to be experienced within the city itself.

Travel to any Kuala Lumpur suburbs and observe - A Chinese house will have a mother praying and lighting joss sticks for her ancestors, an Indian family will be playing the radio featuring the latest Tamil hits, while the Malay family will be getting ready to walk to the closest mosque.

Truth be told, what used to be an easy mixing and getting along with one another is being slowly eroded by the ever more radical racial and religious elements in the political scenario and society. One can only hope this does not tear apart this unique fabric of Malaysia.





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