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Sarawak facts for kids

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Flag of Sarawak
Coat of arms of Sarawak
Coat of arms
Bumi Kenyalang
Land of the Hornbills
Bersatu, Berusaha, Berbakti
United, Striving, Serving
Anthem: Ibu Pertiwiku
My Motherland
   Sarawak in    Malaysia
   Sarawak in    Malaysia
Country Malaysia
Established under the Bruneian Empire 15th century
Raj of Sarawak 1841
Japanese occupation 1942
British crown colony 1 July 1946
Gained self-governance 22 July 1963
Federated into Malaysia 16 September 1963
(and largest city)
 • Type Parliamentary
 • Body Sarawak State Legislative Assembly
 • Total 124,450 km2 (48,050 sq mi)
 • Total 2,780,000 (4th)
Demonym(s) Sarawakian
Demographics (2014)
 • Ethnic composition
  • Dayak: 43%
  • Malay: 24%
  • Chinese: 24%
  • Melanau: 6.7%
  • Other Bumiputera: 0.3%
 • Dialects Bornean • Sarawak Malay • Hakka
Other ethnic minority languages
State Index
 • HDI (2017) 0.737 (medium) (12th)
 • TFR (2017) 1.7
 • GDP (2016) RM124,513 million
Time zone UTC+8 (MST)
Postal code
93xxx to 98xxx
Calling code 082 to 086
ISO 3166 code K (MY-13, 50–53)
Vehicle registration QA to QT
Official language(s)

Sarawak is a state of Malaysia. The largest among the 13 states, with an area almost equal to that of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, and is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan (the Indonesian portion of Borneo) to the south, and Brunei in the north. The capital city, Kuching, is the largest city in Sarawak, the economic centre of the state, and the seat of the Sarawak state government. Other cities and towns in Sarawak include Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu. As of the 2015 census, the population of Sarawak was 2,636,000. Sarawak has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. It has several prominent cave systems at Gunung Mulu National Park. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia; Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia, is located on one of its tributaries, the Balui River. Mount Murud is the highest point in Sarawak.

The earliest known human settlement in Sarawak at the Niah Caves dates back 40,000 years. A series of Chinese ceramics dated from the 8th to 13th century AD was uncovered at the archaeological site of Santubong. The coastal regions of Sarawak came under the influence of the Bruneian Empire in the 16th century. In 1839, James Brooke, a British explorer, arrived in Sarawak. He, and his descendants, governed the state from 1841 to 1946. During World War II, it was occupied by the Japanese for three years. After the war, the last White Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke, ceded Sarawak to Britain, and in 1946 it became a British Crown Colony. On 22 July 1963, Sarawak was granted self-government by the British and subsequently became one of the founding members of Malaysia, established on 16 September 1963. However, the federation was opposed by Indonesia leading to a three-year confrontation. The creation of Malaysia also resulted in a communist insurgency that lasted until 1990.

The head of state is the Governor, also known as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, while the head of government is the Chief Minister. Sarawak is divided into administrative divisions and districts, governed by a system that is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and was the earliest state legislature system in Malaysia.

Because of its natural resources, Sarawak specialises in the export of oil and gas, timber and oil palms, but also possesses strong manufacturing, energy and tourism sectors. It is ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse; major ethnic groups including Iban, Malay, Chinese, Melanau, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. English and Malay are the two official languages of the state; there is no official religion.


The official languages of Sarawak are Malay and English.

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