History & Culture in Malaysia

The earliest kingdoms established were Buddhist. In the peninsula, Kedah was the most important of these due to its strategic location at the northern entrance to the Straits of Malacca. Between the 7th and 13th centuries, Kedah, the Straits of Malacca and the Borneon coasts came under the control of Indian empire, whose regional bases were in Sumatra. So deep was the impact of these kingdoms on local society that the 1,500 years of Malaysian history between the arrival of the first Indians and the coming of Islam is called the Indian period.

The Buddhist Srivijaya kingdom reigned for four centuries and the Hindu Cola Empire for one, and these civilizations left behind numerous candi religious edifices at Bujang Valley and Santubong, as well as religious figurines and votive tablets. During this period, Buddhism, Hinduism and South Indian culture and language became widespread.

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