A former country in south-east Asia, consisting of the southern part of the Malay peninsula and some adjacent islands (originally including Singapore), now forming the western part of the Federation of Malaysia, and known as West Malaysia. Malaya was dominated by the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya from the 9th to the 14th centuries and by the Hindu kingdom of Majaphit in the 14th century. Islam was introduced with the rise of the princely states, especially Malacca, in the 15th century. The area was opened up by the Dutch and Portuguese, and eventually Britain became dominant, investing heavily in rubber plantations using much immigrant labour from China and India. The several Malay states federated under British control in 1896. Malaya was occupied by the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. After the war, Britain fought a successful twelve-year campaign against Communist guerrillas, mainly Chinese. The country became independent in 1957, the federation expanding into Malaysia in 1963.
Subjects: Second World War — World History.