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What on Earth...?

The 1998 Commonwealth Games are being held in Asia for the first time. The host city is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia is a country made up of several smaller states, which joined together in 1962. The people are Malays, Chinese, Indians and the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.

Where on Earth...?

It's right on the Equator, which means Malaysia has a tropical climate; four fifths of the land is covered with lush tropical rainforest, and there are regular monsoons and floods. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city, has an average temperature of 27 degrees celcius and 2410mm of rain.

It's going to be hot and sweaty work for our athletes! Many of them will go to nearby countries just before the games so that they can get used to the heat. They will need to remember to drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun so that they can perform at their best.

How on Earth...?

Commonwealth countries bid for the homour of hosting the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games Federation decided by vote who will host the Games.

A special stadium has been built and a village for all the athletes, coaches and officials to live in during the games.

To learn more about Malaysia on the internet, visit the Malaysian National Archives; the website is packed with information, links, an online classroom and a kids' corner.

The Gobek

What on Earth...?

A thing called a Gobek is going to have a special role at the Commonwealth Games. Traditionally associated with welcoming and entertaining visitors, this special Malaysian nutcracker has been the inspiration for designing the Queen's Relay baton.

The Queen's What...?

The Queen's Baton Relay is to the Commonwealth Games what the torch is to the Olympics. It is a part of the Opening Ceremony of the Games, and dates back to the VI Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales in 1958.

The Baton is used to carry the Queen's message from Buckingham Palace to the Games. It travels through a number of Commonwealth countries before arriving at the host country. At the opening ceremony, the Queen's message will be read by her son Prince Edward, who is also the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

How on Earth...?

The relay began back in March of this year, when the baton left Buckingham Palace and was taken to Africa, Fiji, India and Australia. In June it was carried through New Zealand and Samoa, then went on to Canada. Then it travelled around the Carribean, to Singapore, Brunei, and finally arrives in Malaysia.

The baton will be carried through Sarawak and the Malaysian Peninsular and will arrive at the Main Stadium, Bukit Jalil for the Opening Ceremony on September 11. You might like to find a map of the world and follow the Baton's journey.

To see pictures of the baton and learn more about the Gobek, visit the Games Operations section of the Kuala Lumpur site.

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