10 Fun And Bizarre Facts About Malaysia That May Surprise You


Farah Fazanna •  Aug 25, 2022

We all know what Malaysia is famous for — delicious food, insane beaches, rich flora and fauna and our multicultural community. But, there might be things that surprise you, like did you know the largest roundabout in the world is in Putrajaya? Oops, we might be getting ahead ourselves. Check out this list where you can use it to impress your friends or use it as a quiz during Merdeka public holiday!

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1. The Jalur Gemilang was actually designed by an architect.

Mohamad Hamzah, a 29-year-old Public Works Department architect created it in 1963 when he won the contest that was held to design a new Malaysian flag after the Federation of Malaya replaced the much-hated Malayan Union.

2. What’s Malaysia’s oldest name?

Well, Greco-Roman geographer Ptolemy first named our country Aurea Chersonesus, which means ‘peninsula of gold’. The name was found in Ptolemy’s book Geographia, written about A.D. 150. 

3. Did you know that Borneo is actually the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea?

Yes, that’s right! Spanning over 743,000 km2, Borneo is shared between Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesia. Here’s another fun fact about Borneo – it is also home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. We’re a lucky bunch!

4. The largest cave chamber in the world is in Sarawak

The Sarawak Cave Chamber is located in Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo. This cave chamber is so vast that according to rough mathematics, it can accommodate 40 Boeing 747s without the planes even having to overlap their wings to fit in. Wow!

5.  The local time in peninsular Malaysia has been adjusted a total of eight times!

The first adjustment was made in 1932 when the clocks were advanced by 20 minutes to ‘lengthen’ daylight. Then, in 1941, the time sped up another 10 minutes and in 1942, we increased it for another two hours to follow Tokyo’s time. In 1945, we brought the time back to the time observed in 1941, and finally, on 1st January 1982, Tun Dr Mahathir made the final adjustment by pushing the time forward by 30 minutes to sync up with Sabah and Sarawak. Surprisingly, Singapore also adjusted their clocks on the very same day!

6. We have the biggest roundabout on Earth

Credit: Ishan @seefromthesky onUnsplash

Here’s another thing we Malaysians should be proud of. The biggest roundabout in the world is located in Malaysia. The Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in Putrajaya is 2.2 miles and has a diameter of 3.5km. Hello, Ripley’s?

7. The Sultanate of Kedah is believed to be one of the oldest in the world

Credit: Megat Irfan onUnsplash

We all know that the Sultanate of Kedah is the earliest sultanate on the Malay Peninsula, but it is also believed to be the oldest in the world. Allegedly founded in 1136, Sultan Mudzafar Shah I was listed as the first Sultan of Kedah.

8. Malaysia is the only country in the world to have actually won the war against Communism.

The 12-year guerrilla war conducted by the Communist forces came to end in 1960. This period is known to many as the Malayan Emergency. Many of our ancestors fought hard in the war, so we should be thankful that we’re living in a peaceful country now!

9. Malaysia’s total highway length is longer than the Earth’s circumference

Shocking but true. In total, Malaysia has 65, 877km (and counting) of highway. But, the Earth’s circumference is only 40, 075km! That explains why we have to pay so much for tolls.

10. Where ‘Ringgit’ comes from

The national currency of Malaysia, Ringgit means 'jagged' in the Malay language; and refers to the serrated edges of the Spanish silver dollars that were used in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

Well, did any of the facts surprise you?