Independence Day

August 31

Name that country:

Until just a few years ago, it was home to the two tallest buildings in the world, the Twin Towers.

Its flag boasts over a dozen horizontal red and white stripes and a blue rectangle in the upper left corner displaying certain celestial objects.

It won its Independence from Great Britain.

(Got it yet? Okay, one more…)

Its head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and its official religion is Islam.

That’s right! Malaysia!

Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

The Petronas Twin Towers were completed in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and were opened on this day in 1999. At almost 1,500 feet, they’re taller than the Sears Tower by 33 feet, and were they were the tallest buildings in the world up until 2004 when they were surpassed by “Taipei 101”. (They’re still there, they’re just not the tallest buildings in the world anymore.)

The Malaysian flag contains 14 red and white stripes which symbolize the equal standing of the country’s 13 states and its federal government. The 14-point “Federal Star” represents Malaysia and its monarchy, while the yellow crescent moon represents Islam.

Though the official religion is Islam, Malaysia has significant populations of Buddhists and Hindus as well as a smaller Christian population.

And today is the biggest civic holiday of the year. Malaysians celebrate Hari Merdeka, (Independence Day), which marks Malaysia’s formation as a unified modern state and its independence from Great Britain over half a century ago, on August 31, 1957.

Happy Birthday Malasia! And Selamat Hari Merdeka!

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