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The situation was no different on Borneo, which fell to the Japanese on 1 April 1942 after months of fierce fighting.
Malaya gained independence from the British in 1957.With its investment in the high technology industries and moderate oil wealth, it has become one of the richer nations in Southeast Asia.Malaysia, for most visitors, presents a happy mix: there is high-tech infrastructure and things generally work well and more or less on schedule, but prices remain more reasonable than, say, Singapore.Before the rise of the European colonial powers, the Malay peninsula and the Malay archipelago were home to empires such as the Srivijaya, the Majapahit (both ruled from Indonesia, but also controlling parts of Malaysia) and the Melaka Sultanate.The Srivijaya and Majapahit empires saw the spread of Hinduism to the region, and to this day, many Hindu legends and traditions survive in traditional Malay culture.The British military equipment left to defend Malaya were outdated and no match for the modern ones used by the Japanese, while the only two battleships based in the region, the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, were sank by Japanese bombers off the East Coast of Malaya.
By 31 January 1942, the British had been pushed all the way back to Singapore, which also fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.
The British also established their first colony on the Malay peninsula in Penang in 1786, when it was ceded by the Sultan of Kedah.
Finally, the area was divided into Dutch and British spheres of influence with the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty in 1824.
This was to change in the 16th century when the Portuguese established the first European colony in Southeast Asia by defeating the Melaka Sultanate.
The Portuguese subsequently then lost Malacca to the Dutch.
World War II was disastrous for the British Malayan Command.