Kuala Lumpur Today
In just one
hundred years, Kuala Lumpur, or “muddy confluence” in Malay, has transformed
itself from a small mining town into a cosmopolitan metropolis. It can be thought of as halfway between the
developing and chaotic Bangkok to the north and the high-tech and orderly
Singapore to the south.
Culturally, KL, as the city is called by its adherents, is truly a pastiche. The plurality is Muslim Malays, but they coexist seamlessly with the large East Asian and Indian populations. Old Chinese houses and colonial mansions stand next to gleaming steal towers. Executives, traditional fortune-tellers, and tourists all sit elbow to elbow on the city’s public transportation system. It is this confluence of people that has made the city so ethnically diverse and accepting.
The city has faced some issues in recent years, from economic crises to the SARS scare, but has remained strong. Kuala Lumpur has a diverse economy and is the center of commerce and culture in Malaysia. In recent years, several major infrastructure projects have brought Malaysia into the 21st century, including a recently completed light rail project.