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Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire.The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates.Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years.The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.Dumont d'Urville described Malaysia as "an area commonly known as the East Indies".
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also classifies Malaysia as an emerging and developing country.
Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand at the north and maritime borders with Singapore at the south, Vietnam at the northeast, and Indonesia in the west.
East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam.
In 2017, Malaysian citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 164 countries and territories, ranking the Malaysian passport 5th most powerful in the world.
Whether or not it originated from these roots, the word "melayu" or "mlayu" may have been used in early Malay/Javanese to mean to steadily accelerate or run.