Malaysia is a truly multi-cultural society, and Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups have lived together in the country for generations. Islam is the main religion. However, many others are practised freely.
Malaysia joined the Commonwealth in 1957. The Commonwealth Games was hosted in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpar, in 1998. This was the first ever Games to be held in Asia, and the first to feature team sports.
In addition to playing sports such as football and hockey, many children in Malaysia enjoy kite flying. Every September thousands of kites of all shapes and sizes dot the skies at the Borneo International Kite Festival.
Family is considered an important part of culture, with a strong emphasis on unity, loyalty and respect for the elderly. In fact, many Malays don't have surnames; instead they use their fathers' name and add it to their own with the phrase 'bin' (son of) or 'bint' (daughter of).
Famous Malaysian personalities include fashion designer Jimmy Choo and Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor – the first Malaysian astronaut and the first Muslim to observe Ramadan in space.