This prompt is answered in conjunction with the Malaysia Day on September 16. I'm an average Malaysian who was born in Malaysia, also live in Malaysia until now.
So you know nothing about Malaysia? Here' let me tell you a thing or two about it. Assuming you know where is Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines, I can tell you Malaysia, on the map is located in the middle of those countries, in the middle of South East Asia. Yes, those countries are close neighbors to Malaysia; all of them have shared land or water borders with Malaysia. And for the record, Singapore was in fact part of Malaysia since it's independence from the British Empire until year 1969. Although the time Singapore spent as part of Malaysia was brief, it was fun and unforgettable.
Geographically, Malaysia is divided into two; West Malaysia which is comprised of 12 states in Malaysia Peninsula, and East Malaysia which is comprised of the states of Sabah and Sarawak (located to the north of the island of Borneo). The two land masses is divided by the South China Sea. Politically Malaysia is a federation of 14 states (Federal Territory is deemed as 1 free state in the federation). Our country practiced a form of democratic government known as constitutional monarchy, similar to the United Kingdom and Japan where we have our own king known as Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (literally means "Supreme Ruler") and a Prime Minister as the head of states. Our kings are elected, similar to the practice used in electing the Pope, although as opposed to the Pope, our kings are elected among hereditary sultans (the ruling royal families) from nine Malay states, all located in the Peninsula. For states without the sultans, they have Governors (locally known as "Yang Di-Pertua Negeri") appointed by the Council of Rulers. And unlike the Governors in the US, Governors in states in Malaysia have very little role in political system (just like the rest of the sultans) as the administration of individual states are directly under the jurisdiction of Chief Ministers.
Whenever I talk about my country I can't avoid to talk about its history as well. I think it's quite understandable why there are many people like yourself never heard about Malaysia before because our country has always been low profile for centuries. Actually it's not really our fault. We once had our own Golden Age too, during the reign of the Sultanate of Malacca. During that time The Malacca Empire was so prosperous; it covered almost half of South East Asia region. It was during this time Malaysia first become an Islamic nation and the religion has spread throughout this region since that time. We had hundred of years of relationship with the Chinese Empire and we were once the wealthiest trading nation in the world. It ended with the invasion by foreign powers from Europe such as the Portuguese and Netherlands. Later in the 18th and 19th century we were part of the British Empire and for a brief moment we were occupied by the Japanese armed forces during the World War II. Today Malacca is part of Malaysia as a free state, and because of the Portuguese occupation, Malacca has lost its hereditary line thus today Malacca has no sultan but instead it has the Governor.
Malaysia has a recorded history as far back as at least 2 thousand years. Although the locally available written historical sources may not dated as far as that time, there are foreign historical sources that have references to Malaysia that support this fact, mainly from China and India. Historically Malaysia also known by various names such as "Tanah Melayu" (literally "Land of the Malays"), The Spice Islands and a few more. To the ancient Chinese it was known as 'Nanyang' and to the westerns world it was known as The Golden Chersones as described by Ptolemy, and right before Malaysia was born, it was known internationally as The Malayan Federation or just Malaya. One of the main reason that strengthen the argument that Malaysia has long enough history is the reference given to Mount Ledang (located in Malacca) where in the western world it was once known as Mount Ophir. The world Ophir itself is believed to have been originated from the Hebrew language. Malaysia also was once a home for one ancient kingdom known as Langkasuka although its existence is still highly disputed among historians as some believe it has been existed before 10th century AD and through some unverified records, the king of Langkasuka once received a visit by the Roman envoys.
Throughout the history Malaysia always has a turbulent past due to the invasion of various foreign powers as mentioned earlier. Before the establishment of The Malacca Empire, this region has always in constant war between small kingdoms. Because of this local people has developed a way of life where they defended themselves with a unique martial art known as silat. Silat is unique to the Malay people (this includes the Indonesian) just like how kungfu/wushu is unique to the Chinese. Silat used to be taught only to the Malay people but since there are high demand from the non-Malays, they are now being taught to to them too. Right before the Portuguese invasion, there were only 2 most dominant empires in this region; the Malacca Empire and the Siam Empire. Perhaps if it's not because of the foreign invasion this region might have been unified by one of these two local powers because people in this region share many similarities in culture and language.
Well, it's true that Malaysia was once "The Land of The Malays" but under the British Empire, many immigrants, mostly from China and India has settled down and as a result Malaysia today has become one of the most diverse nation in the world. I'm not denying that there are racist people among us but most Malaysian today live in harmony and doesn't really care about the differences between ethnicity. Now we have the same goal; to make Malaysia a fully developed country by the year 2020. It's not an easy task to do and it can only be achieved by cooperation by all people regardless of their background.
Here I shall conclude that Malaysia may be new as a country but as a nation it has been existing for nearly 2000 years.