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The history, culture and peoples of the modern countries of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are intimately intertwined. The modern country of Malaysia comprises the southern end of the Malay peninsula except for Singapore, and the northern part of the island of Borneo except for the enclaves of Brunei.
Both the western and eastern areas of Malaysia came under the control of Muslim traders in the 13th century and were ruled by a number of Sultans, the Malaccan sultanate being the most influential. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle in the area and Malacca became a Portuguese possession in 1511. The Dutch took the colony in 1641 and held it until 1794 when it was occupied by the British. Other sultanates existed during this time period, but were dominated by the colonial powers.
Peninsular Malaysia was officially ceded to Britain in 1824. The North Borneo areas of Sarawak and Sabah were largely untouched by European powers for many years. They came under British control in 1840 and 1888 respectively, having previously been under the control of the Sultanate of Brunei.
Independence from Britain was proposed following the Japanese occupation during World War II. The Federation of Peninsular Malaya, which at the time included Singapore was granted independence in 1957. In 1963 the British colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak also joined the Federation, but Brunei hesitated and never reached an agreement with Malaysia.
In 1965 Singapore left Malaysia to become an independent state, due partly to economic pressure from Indonesia. Indonesia vigorously opposed the creation of the new country, suggesting rather that they join with Indonesia. Economic boycotts were imposed for a number of years, but these hurt Indonesia as well as Malaysia. Today Indonesia has become supportive of these countries with similar language and cultural background. The protectorate Brunei eventually became fully independent of Great Britain in 1984.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 2000.