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Happy Independence Day to All Malaysians!

This 31 August, Malaysia celebrates its 59th birthday, and we at PappaRich are celebrating right along with her. To mark the occasion, we thought we would share a list of 12 things you might not have known about our beautiful country. After all, there’s so much more to Malaysia than just awesome food. Happy Merdeka, everyone!

1. First announcement of independence

Tunku Abdul Rahman first announced the date of Malaya’s independence at Padang Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir, Malacca, on 20 February 1956. The declaration of independence was read on 31 August 1957.

2. Ringgit: our currency

The currency of Malaysia is called ringgit, which actually means “jagged” in the national language, Malay. It refers to the jagged edges of the Spanish silver dollars that were once used in the region.

3. Rafflesia: the largest flower in the world

In 1818, Sir Stamford Raffles described it as “perhaps the largest and most magnificent flower in the world.” The rafflesia is a plant with no leaves, roots or stem, and produces the biggest flower in the world, with a record-breaking bloom of 106.7cm (3 ft 6 in) in diameter and 11kg in weight. Its petal-like lobes grow up to an inch thick. Imagine that!

4. Durian: the king of fruits

The durian, nicknamed “the king of fruits”, has such a strong smell and flavour that it is generally banned in hotels, metros and planes all across Asia. Love it or hate it, it is serious business in Malaysia, where the many different varieties are often made into treats like durian ice cream, durian cheesecake and even durian crème brûlée!

5. Mangosteen: the queen of fruits

You’ve met the king, now behold the queen! The mangosteen is another popular fruit commonly found in Malaysia, and is nicknamed “the queen of fruits” because it is often eaten together with durian – the cooling properties of the mangosteen help to counteract the heaty effects of the durian.

6. Orang-utan: man of the jungle

Orang-utans are native to the island of Borneo, where East Malaysia is situated. Because 98% of their DNA is the same as humans, they are extremely human-like, and their name “orang-utan” actually means “person of the forest”. Sadly, the orang-utan is an endangered species due to severe deforestation and logging of their rainforest habitat.

7. Did you know these famous names are Malaysian?

Hollywood actress Michelle Yeoh, known for her movies such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Lady and Memoirs of a Geisha, is originally from Ipoh in Malaysia. In 2001, she was conferred the title of Dato’, which is the equivalent of being knighted in the UK.

The name Jimmy Choo might be a global brand in luxury footwear, but the real Jimmy Choo, another recipient of the Dato’ title, was actually born in the Malaysian state of Penang to a family of shoemakers.

Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor carries the honour of being the first Malaysian astronaut to go into outer space in 2007, and is also the first Muslim to observe Ramadan while in space.

8. Petronas Towers: the tallest twin buildings in the world

The iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the world’s tallest buildings from 1998-2004. Today they are the world’s tallest twin buildings, and are connected by a sky bridge at level 41, which sits 170m above ground.

9. Malaysia’s total highway length is longer than the Earth’s circumference

We love our highways! Malaysia has 65,877km worth of highway, which is way more than the Earth’s circumference of 40,075km.

10. The world’s longest king cobra was caught in Malaysia

Speaking of length, the longest king cobra ever documented was caught alive in Port Dickson, Malaysia, in April 1937. It measured an astounding 5.54m when caught – and continued to grow! Transferred to the London Zoo, it eventually grew to 5.71m long.

11. Malaysian longhouses

Also known as the “condominiums of the jungle”, the longhouses of Malaysia’s ethnic tribes can house anywhere between 20 to 60 families, each represented by a door in the longhouse.

12. Nasi lemak and teh tarik: our Malaysian stars

The national drink of Malaysia is a hot milk tea called teh tarik, while the national dish is called nasi lemak, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk, often served wrapped in a banana leaf and usually eaten for breakfast. Psst, we have it right here in PappaRich!