Editor's note: French officials said it may be a week or more before investigators determine whether a piece of debris found on the island of Réunion came from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, The New York Times reports. Based on photographs and video, U.S. officials have said the object likely came from a Boeing 777, and MH370 is the only known missing Boeing 777. However, Australian and Malaysian officials have cautioned it's too early to know for sure if the debris is from the missing aircraft, which vanished with 239 people aboard in March 2014. An aircraft engineer told The Times that photos suggest the found object "separated from the aircraft violently" and "it's pretty clear the aircraft didn't survive, it was completely destroyed." Australian officials say the ongoing search off Western Australia for the missing plane will continue. - Stephanie
Malaysian prime minister: 'Initial reports suggest that the debris is very likely to be from a Boeing 777, but we need to verify whether it is from flight MH370. At this stage it is too early to speculate' - @NajibRazak
More: Malaysian transportation minister says it's too early to know if debris found on Réunion Island is from missing Malaysia Airlines flight; Australian transportation official says ocean drift models they have suggest 'it is possible, not probable, that debris would wash ashore at Réunion' - @nytimes
Editor's note: The Associated Press is citing an unnamed US official as saying the debris found on an island in the Indian Ocean belongs to same type of aircraft as the missing Malaysia plane MH370. We're watching for more. - Tom
Editor's note: Numerous tweets are noting the discovery of airline debris off the coast of La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and speculating about a possible link to the missing Malaysia jet MH370. Jon Ostrower, the Wall Street Journal’s aerospace reporter, says the debris appears to be an airline flap. - Tom
Malaysia (/məˈleɪʒə/mə-LAY-zhə or /məˈleɪsiə/mə-LAY-see-ə) (Malaysian pronunciation: [məlejsiə]) is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres (127,350 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. By 2015, with a population of over 30 million, Malaysia became the 43rd most populous country in the world. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia, located in the tropics. It is one of 17 megadiverse countries on earth, with large numbers of endemic species.
Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates. The territories on Peninsular Malaysia were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963. Less than two years later in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. The constitution declares Islam the state religion while allowing freedom of religion for non-Muslims. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the prime minister.
Since its independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the East Asia Summit and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.