Interesting buildings, historical landmarks and fun facts about Malaysia you should know about.
On September 16, Malaysians around the world celebrate Malaysia Day. Held to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963, it is perhaps the best day to truly recognise everything we cherish about our country.
Although most would consider our multi-racial society and our cuisine as our greatest assets, there are other aspects of the country that are equally as important. Yes, the food is great, but Malaysia has built herself quite a reputation with historical landmarks, natural attractions and feats of construction that should be acknowledged on Malaysia Day and beyond.
Check out our top 16 favourites:
1. Tugu Negara is the world’s tallest freestanding group of bronze sculptures
We all know the Tugu Negara, but many do not understand the significance of this important structure. Situated at the Lake Gardens Kuala Lumpur, the national monument occupies 48,562 sq. metres of space and was built in February 1966 in remembrance of the brave soldiers who died fighting for our country’s independence. Designed by American architect, Felix de Weldon, who also designed the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia, in the United States, the Tugu Negara stands at 15.5 metres in height and is recognised for being the tallest freestanding group of bronze sculptures in the world.
2. The A Famosa Fort is over 500 years old
The image of the A Famosa is synonymous with the historic state of Malacca. Built in 1511 by the Portuguese under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque, all that remains of this once mighty fortress is the Porta de Santiago, a tiny gateway of the structure. Despite much destruction of the fort, the A Famosa stands as one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia and the Far East.
3. We have a pretty extensive highway network
We have admittedly some pretty impressive highways built around the country, which connects us efficiently to neighbouring states and city centres. However, in total, Malaysia has over 65,000km of highways, which is impressive to say the least considering the Earth’s circumference measures 40,075km. Not bad, really, for a country that measures 330,803 sq. km.
4. We also have the world’s tallest Twin Towers
The iconic twin skyscrapers need little introduction. After all, they were at one time the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004. Still, despite being ‘dethroned’, the Petronas Towers owns the bragging rights to being the tallest twin towers in the world. Standing at 451.9m, with 88-floors on each tower, the iconic building remains the centrepiece of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, drawing global
visitors who journey to the capital just to marvel at its design and unique construction.
5. Not to mention, the longest bridge in Southeast Asia!
At 24 kilometres, the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge or the Penang second bridge stands as the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. Almost double the length of the first Penang Bridge, it connects Batu Kawan on the mainland and Batu Maung on the island. The Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge not only helps ease traffic to and from the Pearl of the Orient but is also a significant piece to the Bandar Cassia Township, which is currently being built.
6. The Blue Mosque in Shah Alam is an architectural masterpiece
Also known as Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, this beautifully constructed mosque in Seksyen 14, Shah Alam is renowned for its stunning structure and eye-catching blue and silver dome. A major attraction in Shah Alam, the Blue Mosque is also Malaysia’s largest mosque and also stands as the second-largest mosque in Southeast Asia, just behind the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta.
7. The Kedah Sultanate is believed to be the world’s oldest
The Kedah Royal House is not only the oldest in Malaysia but also one of the oldest in the world. Founded in 1136, the history of the Sultanate stretches over 880 years and is believed to be the longest unbroken royal lineage in the world. Sultan Mudzafar Shah I, served as the first Sultan of Kedah from 1136-1179. The present ruler of the northern state and the 28th Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah ascended to the throne in 1958.
8. Malaysia is home to the world’s largest roundabout
The Federal Administrative Capital of Malaysia is renowned for its impressive buildings as well as magnificent bridges, and it is also home to the world’s largest roundabout. Situated at Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Precinct 1, the roundabout measures 3.5km in diameter, and is so big that it is able to house the Istana Melawati (royal retreat), the Putra Perdana Landmark and a hotel with ample green spaces to spare.
9. KL Railway Station is a century-old landmark
Long before KL Sentral became the country’s largest transit hub, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station stood as the main train station in the capital city. The historical building was built in 1910 and it dutifully served as the nation’s main railway hub until 2001.
Interestingly, when the British built the station, they requested that the building include snow gutters and a roof that could withstand up to six feet of snow.
Recognised as one of the oldest stations in the region, Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is still in operation today and it continues to attract a fair share of visitors many of whom come to admire the building’s distinctive Anglo-Asian architecture.
10. Sarawak boasts the world’s largest known cave chambers
Stretching over 528.6 sq. km, the Gunung Mulu National Park stands as one of the biggest national parks this side of the world. It is also home to the Sarawak Chamber, which at 600 m long and 415 m wide, the 80 m high cavity is recognised as the largest known cave chamber in the world. Impressively, in sheer space alone, it can accommodate 40 Boeing 747 aircrafts. But the chamber is only one part of this impressive park; there are 295km of caves to be explored in the area as well. Home to impressive limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, it remains a natural gem of the state of Sarawak.
11. You can send mail from 3,289 metres above sea level
At 3,289 metres above sea level, Ranau, Sabah has laid claim to having the highest post box in Malaysia and quite possibly Southeast Asia. Pos Malaysia Berhad erected the post box, its 3110th, in February 2015 at Pendant Hut, Laban Rata, which is the main rest stop for hikers who want to ascend the summit of Mount Kinabalu. The post box has no doubt increased the popularity of Mount Kinabalu to hikers around the world, many of whom make it a point to send a postcard after climbing the iconic mountain.
12. The first public garden established in Malaysia is 138 years old and still as beautiful as ever
No trip to Taiping is complete without taking in the town’s beloved Lake Gardens, which lies near Bukit Larut and adjacent to the town centre. The first public garden established under British rule, the former tin mining ground was majestically turned into a lush recreational park in 1880. Recognised as the first public garden in Malaya, the 160-acre park was cherished for its beauty and well-maintained gardens, which thankfully has remained as such throughout 138 years.
13. “The World’s Largest Hotel” title goes to us too!
With 7,351 rooms, the First World Hotel set the Guinness World Records for being the largest hotel in the world (by number of rooms). Unmistakable with its bright multi-coloured exterior, the property has been packing in visitors since its first tower opened in 2001. Owned and managed by Resorts World Genting, the hotel is set to maintain its popularity in years to come following the recent upgrading works and the building of the FOX World Studios theme park, which is targeted to open in late 2019.
14. Penang Free School is the oldest English medium school in Southeast Asia
Situated in Jalan Masjid Negeri in George Town Penang, the Penang Free School is the oldest English-medium school in Southeast Asia and also the first school to be established in Malaya. Formed in 1816, the school was founded by Robert Sparke Hutchings, who established the school in Farquhar Street, the site of which is incidentally now the state museum. As student enrolment grew, a bigger facility was needed and in 1927, the school was relocated to its new premises in Jalan Masjid Negeri, which has been its address for over 90 years.
15. The Johor–Singapore Causeway is the world’s busiest causeway
It is estimated that an average 300,000 people cross between the borders of Johor Bahru (JB) and Singapore on a daily basis. The two land crossings between the two countries have largely been recognised as the world’s busiest. But the JB-Singapore causeway isn’t just any plain old border; it is in fact an important lifeline between the two countries, with thousands of workers commuting from the Johor capital into Singapore on a daily basis. The causeway has also helped spur development in the state, with the construction of new residential, commercial as well as hospitality and themed attractions in the southern state.
16. Taman Negara is reportedly older than the Amazon rainforest
Malaysia’s Taman Negara is vast, beautiful and extremely lush. Extending some 4343 sq km, it also happens to support over 10,000 plant species, 140 animal species and 150,000 types of insects. However, what is most impressive about Taman Negara is that it is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. At 130,000 million years old, it’s reportedly older than the Amazon and the Congo Basin, which is indeed impressive to say the least.
Although we have only listed 16 fun and cool facts about Malaysia, there are still many facets to the country that should be celebrated and cherished. Overall, all of them – big or small – play an important role in helping us define our country and who we are as Malaysians.