Peninsular Malaysia occupies a total area of 131 690 km2 between 6° 45´ N (the border with Thailand) and 1° 20´ N (sea-strait with the island Republic of Singapore) and between 99° 40´ and 104° 20´E (between the Straits of Malacca and South China Sea). Its maximum width is 322 km with a length from northernmost to southernmost tip of approximately 740 km.
Parallel mountain ranges in a north-west/south-east direction characterise the northern and central-western parts, with peaks as high as 2 190 m.
The general topography of the country is characterised by:
- Extensive coastal plains and inland lowlands of undulating terrain below 300 m (about 60 percent of the total area);
- Hilly ranges between 300 and 1 300 m (about 35 percent);
- Mountains above 1 300 m (about 5 percent of total area).
Hills and mountains frequently have steep slopes (more than 60 percent) and are strongly dissected, especially in the western mountainous range and central areas.
Soils are variable and include:
- Alluvial gley soils (tropaquents) and peat soils (saprists) on marine alluvium that are highly suitable for agriculture;
- Well-drained levee soils on freshwater alluvium, suitable for agriculture;
- Ultisols (red-yellow podzolic soils of low base content and infertile) and patches of laterite on sandstone and quartzite, more extensive inland; and
- Oxisols (dark red, friable latosols of limited extent, mainly on east coast) on iron-rich schists;
- Podzols (very deficient in bases, mainly on east coast old beaches) on course siliceous deposits; and
- Brown earths, podzols and peaty gley soils (the latter continuing in the cloud zone, acid, of very low fertility) on ever-wet mountains sites, about 1 000 m to the cloud zone
The climate is typical of the humid tropics-mean day temperature is 32° C, mean night temperature is 22° C, diurnal variation is 5.5° to 8.5° C in coastal plains and 8.5° to 11° C in inland areas, monthly variation of temperature is only 2° C on average. The area is outside the belt of tropical cyclones but influenced by monsoon winds from the south-west during May to September and from the north-east from October to March.
Average rainfall amounts to 2 550 mm countrywide, with highest rainfall on exposed mountains (with a maximum of 5 100 mm and lowest rainfall in sheltered valleys (with a minimum of 1 650 mm). The daily average humidity is around 90 percent. Thunderstorms occur year around, on average 200 days a year with a peak in the afternoons (except at night in the coastal strips).
The state of Sabah is situated at the northern tip of the island of Borneo. It occupies a land area of 73 940 km2 between latitudes 4 N and 7 N and longitudes 115 20´ and 119 20´E. The main offshore islands are Labuan in the west, Banggi in the north and Jambongan, Timbun Mata and Sebatik in the east. The latter is bisected by the boundary with Kalimantan. To the west is the South China Sea, to the east the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea is off the south-east coast of the state.
Sabah is mountainous. On the basis of relief it may be divided into the following regions:
- The western lowlands containing the largest area of low, flat ground, including a number of offshore islands. Though narrow in extent these lowlands are inhabited by almost 70 percent of the population of the state;
- The Crocker Range, running almost parallel to the coast. It extends from the southern end of Maruda Bay in the north and, following the coastline at about 25 km inland, extends southwards along the western part of the country to the Sarawak border.
Large rivers flow to the east from their origins in the main mass of mountains through valleys that spre
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