The Malay Peninsula (Malay: Tanah Melayu) is a major peninsula located in Southeast Asia. It runs approximately north-south and contains the most southerly point of the Asian continent. Its narrowest point is the Isthmus of Kra. The south-west coast is separated from the island of Sumatra by the Straits of Malacca. To the east across the South China Sea lies the island of Borneo.
The area is divided politically:
- the northwest is the extreme south part of Myanmar
- the central region and northeast is the south part of Thailand
- most of the south is the part of Malaysia called Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia (which should not be confused with the larger Malay Peninsula).
- the southern tip is the independent republic of Singapore.
In 1911 two of the aboriginal tribes were the Semang, who are Negrito, and the Sakai. Neither are currently Bumiputra under the laws of Malaysia.
The Malay term Tanah Melayu is still occasionally used in political discourse to describe uniting all Malay people on the peninsula under one Malay nation, although this ambition was largely realized with the creation of Malaysia. Some discontent remains, however, as the largely Malay former Pattani kingdom is now a part of Thailand.
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