Malaysia is a richly diverse country due to its historical and geographical makeup. Because Malaysia is located on a number of islands and a large section of mainland peninsula, the people are culturally and linguistically diverse. In modern times, especially during the colonial period, other groups immigrated to Malaysia from China and South Asia further contributing to the ethnic mix. Much of the current population, numbering around twenty-five million, identifies with one of three groups, Indian, Chinese, or Malay, though this oversimplified distinction leaves out a vast number of other groups, especially on the island of Borneo. A fourth and much smaller group, the Orang Asli, thought to be the original inhabitants of the mainland forests and mountains have been marginalized nearly to the point of extinction. After the introduction of Islam by Muslim traders many hundreds of years ago the area was controlled by various Muslim rulers until the area fell under British control in the 1800's. Due to its key position along the international trade routes, Europeans took an early interest in the area. Initially the British vowed to support local rulers while the outsiders were to simply advise them on a number of key issues, but this arrangement fell apart over time as the British increasingly took a much more direct role in running the affairs of the land and sea.
Before the arrival of Europeans some five hundred years ago, the Malay people developed writing systems based on Arabic and South Asian alphabets used by traders frequenting the area. These writing systems were used widely until recent times when the use of Latin based alphabets became the norm to write many of the native languages, a practice that is still observed today. Still, many groups in Malaysia lived without any writing until modern times. During the years of foreign control, Europeans controlled or heavily influenced any publishing in Malaysia. Towards the end of that period a number of Malaysians began to produce publications in native languages. When Malaysia finally became an independent country after World War II the people were able to continue to expand their printing capacity. The number of publications produced in Malaysia has grown steadily since that time. Most of what is published in the country is in Malay, with lesser amounts in other languages, such as Chinese or English. Along with information in printed formats, electronic information is also available and the Malaysians have embraced this technology where they have access to it, mainly in the cities. Malaysians are establishing an increasingly large presence on the Web.