Kuala Lumpur, or KL, is the federal capital and most populous city of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the fastest growing metropolitan area of the country. Ranked as an alpha world city, it's the economic, financial and cultural city of the country and one of three Malaysian Federal Territories. The city also has a high Human Development Index. In 2016, Kuala Lumpur had an estimated population of 1.76 million.
City Size and Population Density
Kuala Lumpur has an estimated 2016 population of 1.76 million people in an area of just 94 square kilometers (243 square kilometers). This gives the city proper a very high population density of 17,310 people per square mile or 6,890 per square kilometer. Greater Kuala Lumpur, or the Klang Valley, is a significant urban agglomeration with an estimated population of 7.2 million in 2016 with a population density that is nearly equal to that of the city proper.
Kuala Lumpur Demographics
According to the 2010 census, major ethnic groups in Kuala Lumpur are:
- Malay/Bumiputera: 45.9%
- Chinese: 43.2%
- Indians: 10.3%
- Other: 1.6%
The city is primarily a mix of Malays, Chinese, and Indians, although there are many cultures in the city such as Eurasians, Kadazans, Ibans and indigenous peoples from East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia. In the 1970s, the Malaysian government put in place policies deemed "racially discriminatory" to favor the Malays (also called Bumiputera, a term that describes the Malay and other indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia). This was done to defuse ethnic tensions after violence against Chinese Malaysians, and it created a strong urban Malay middle class, although it did little to get rid of poverty in rural areas and it led to resentment from other groups, including the large Chinese and Indian minorities.
In recent years, the share of foreign residents in the city has increased, now accounting for about 9% of the total population. Rapid development in the city has led to an influx of low-skilled foreign workers from countries like Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Vietnam. Many have come illegally or without the permits necessary for work.
Kuala Lumpur has many religions. Islam accounts for 46.4% of the population, followed by Buddhism (35.7%), Hinduism (8.5%), Christianity (5.8%), Daoism (1.1%) and other religions (2%).
Kuala Lumpur Population Growth
Kuala Lumpur is an aging city as birth rates have fallen in the last decade or two. This has led to a lower percentage of young people under 15, a group that has dropped from 33% in 1980 to under 27% in 2000. The working age group between 15 and 59 has increased from 63% in 1980 to 67% in 2000 as more people move to the city for opportunities. By 2020, Kuala Lumpur is projected to have a population of 2.2 million.