Physical Geography

Peninsular Malaysia is composed mainly of jungle-covered hills and mountains. In general the ranges increase in height toward the north, reaching a maximum elevation of 7,241 feet (2,207 m). Along the coasts are lowlands, dotted by mangrove swamps, tidal marshes, tropical forests, and cleared agricultural land. On Borneo the terrain consists of hills, mountains, and coastal lowlands similar to those of Peninsular Malaysia. Lofty peaks in the Crocker Range of Sabah include Mount Kinabalu, at 13,455 feet (4,101 m) the highest point in Malaysia. Among the many rivers are the Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia, the Rajang in Sarawak, and the Kinabatangan in Sabah.

Malaysia lies close to the Equator and has a tropical rainy climate, with high temperatures, abundant rain, and high humidity all year. In the lowlands, temperatures hover around 80° F. (27° C.); rainfall totals about 80 to 120 inches (2,000 to 3,000 mm) or more a year. Only in the mountains is there relief from the sultry heat. Monsoons also cause a variation in the climate. They bring increased rain and diminished sunshine to coastal areas and mountain slopes directly in their path.

Tropical forests cover most of the country. Trees include ebony, sandalwood, teak, and palm. They are usually found in mixed forests rather than in single stands. In the high mountains the trees and other plants are similar to those in temperate lands.

In Malaysia's forests live elephants, rhinoceroses, wild oxen, tigers, leopards, tapirs, wild pigs, monkeys, and other mammals. Reptiles include crocodiles and many species of snakes and lizards. There is also an abundance of birds and insects.