Cultures have been
meeting and mixing in Malaysia since the very beginning of its history.
More than fifteen hundred years ago a Malay kingdom in Bujang Valley
welcomed traders from China and India. With the arrival of gold and
silks, Buddhism and Hinduism also came to Malaysia. A thousand years
later, Arab traders arrived in Malacc and brought with them the
principles and practices of Islam. By the time the Portuguese arrived in
Malaysia, the empire that they encountered was more cosmopolitan than
mosaic is marked by many different cultures, but several in particular
have had especially lasting influence on the country. Chief among these
is the ancient Malay culture, and the cultures of Malaysia's two most
prominent trading partners throughout history--the Chinese, and the
Indians. These three groups are joined by a dizzying array of indigenous
tribes, many of which live in the forests and coastal areas of Borneo.
Although each of these cultures has vigorously maintained its traditions
and community structures, they have also blended together to create
contemporary Malaysia's uniquely diverse heritage.