IntroductionMalay Peninsula (məlāˈ, māˈlā) [key], southern extremity (c.70,000 sq mi/181,300 sq km) of the continent of Asia, lying between the Andaman Sea of the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca on the west and the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea on the east. It stretches south for c.700 mi (1,100 km) from the Isthmus of Kra, where it is narrowest, to Singapore. The northern part of the peninsula forms a part of Thailand; the southern part constitutes West Malaysia, the Malayan part of Malaysia. The peninsula forms a physical and cultural link between the mainland of Asia and the islands of Indonesia (often included in the Malay Archipelago).
A mountain range (the highest point of which is Gunong Tahan, 7,186 ft/2,190 m, in Malaysia) forms the backbone of the peninsula; from it numerous short, swift rivers flow east and west. More than half of the land surface is covered with tropical rain forest; the only open areas, aside from clearings made for settlement and agriculture, are the alluvial plains of the west-central portion of the peninsula and stretches along the rivers. The region is one of the richest of the world in the production of tin and rubber; other products include timber, copra and coconut oil, palm oil, tapioca, peanuts, pineapples, and bananas. Rice is the chief foodstuff.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Malaysia and Singapore Political Geography