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The Malay Peninsula or (Malay: Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, Thai: คาบสมุทรมลายู) is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southernmost point of the Asian mainland. The area contains the southernmost tip of Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Southern Thailand.
The Titiwangsa Mountains are part of the Tenasserim Hills system, and form the backbone of the Peninsula. They form the southernmost section of the central cordillera which runs from Tibet through the Kra Isthmus (the Peninsula's narrowest point) into the Malay peninsula. The Strait of Malacca separates the Malay Peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra while the south coast is separated from the island of Singapore by the Straits of Johor.
Prior to the foundation of Melaka, "Melayu" referred solely to Sumatra. Even in the early 16th century, Tomé Pires, a Portuguese apothecary who stayed in Melaka from 1512 to 1515, writes that "Tanah Malayu" is the southeastern part of Sumatra. Today, the term Tanah Melayu (literally: 'The Malay Land') is generally used by Malaysian Malays and occasionally used in political discourse to describe uniting all ethnic Malay people on the peninsula under one Malay nation, although this ambition was largely realised with the creation of Malaysia.
- The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia, Avijit Gupta
- Leonard Y. Andaya, "'Origins' of Melayu", in Timothy P. Barnard, Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity Across Boundaries, 2006, Singapore University Press, p. 67