Diversity in Kuala Lumpur

Since coming to Malaysia, one major difference I have noticed between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is the diversity of the population. While Singapore is a very noticeably majority-Chinese city, with Indians and Malays making up the rest of the population, I have seen a wider variety of ethnicities while exploring Kuala Lumpur. The majority population in this city of 1.6 million is the native Malays, and I have also seen a number of people of Indian, African, Middle Eastern, and European origin. I have also met people from Indonesia and the Philippines that work in our hotel. Our tour guide, Zol told us that tourists mostly come from China or other countries in Asia, as well as Europe, but there are many expatriates from both continents living in the city.
Malaysia is much more open & proud of its multicultural population, emphasizing all of the ASEAN countries yet still focusing on ‘1 Malaysia’. Our tour guide told us right when we met him that he was Malay. In Singapore, ethnicity tends to be overlooked in favor of unity of the city-state and it may be considered rude to inquire about someone’s ethnicity. However, most public signs acknowledge the presence of a multi cultural country, posting warnings or instructions in English, Chinese, Malaysian, and Tamil (India).

I would also like to note that while many of my classmates would not rate KL anywhere near the top of their favorite cities list, I really enjoyed my stay there! The city is crowded, congested, disorganized, and gritty, but I recognize that this is a result of the unexpected growth that the city has experienced. This is a living city that, much like a tropical rainforest, is growing upwards and outwards however it can to accommodate all of the people and industry that seeks to fill it. Kuala Lumpur is an organic and dynamic city and I would be interested to see how it develops in five or ten years.

~Makeda

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