Expat Welcome Guide

Geography and Climate

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Malaysia comprises two separate regions, namely Peninsular Malaysia, which lies between Thailand and Singapore, and East Malaysia across the South China Sea on the vast island of Borneo. The combined land area of both regions is about 330,400 sq km (127,000 sq miles).

The Peninsula is divided into the east and the west by the mountain range known as Banjaran Titiwangsa, which runs from the Malaysian-Thai border in the north to the southern state of Negeri Sembilan.

Geographically, East Malaysia is more rugged, with a series of mountain ranges encompassing the interior regions of both East Malaysian states, Sabah and Sarawak. The Crocker Range in Sabah is the site of Mount Kinabalu, one of the more notable peaks in Southeast Asia and the 20th-most prominent mountain in the world. Low’s Peak, at 4,095m above sea level, is Kinabalu’s summit.

The country is generally tropically warm throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 22°C to 34°C in the lowlands. It can, however, drop as low as 16°C in the highlands. Annual rainfall is heavy at 2,500mm (100 inches), though this can vary considerably from place to place in the country. Humidity is relatively high, though not oppressive.

Generally, Malaysia has two distinct ‘seasons’. The southwest monsoon lasts from May to September or October, during which time the northeast of the country is relatively dry. The northeast monsoon brings the rainy season to the beautiful islands and beaches of the east coast from mid-November to March. However, it can rain at any time of the year.

If heat is your enemy, the only alternative is to ensure the home you choose for yourself has excellent ventilation with lots of windows for better air circulation, and is fitted with air conditioning. Most places in Malaysia have air conditioning, although some houses and apartments have it only in the bedrooms.

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