Jurisdiction Project


Sarawak, a former British colony in the island of Borneo, along with its adjoining neighbour Sabah, became autonomous Malaysian states (East Malaysia) in 1963. In that year, Singapore, along with Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo, joined the Federation of Malaysia. The Sarawak state is the largest in Malaysia and possesses the world's oldest rainforest the size of Austria.

Sarawak stretches some 800 km along north-west coast of the island of Borneo.

It is separated from Peninsular Malaysia to the west by about 600 km of South China Sea and directly adjoins the State of Sabah to the north-east where the sultanate of Brunei forms a double enclave. Inland, the State borders with Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Latitude and Longitude:
Between latitude 0 50' and 5 N and longitude 109 36' and 115 40' E

Time Zone:
GMT +8

Total Land Area:


Sarawak is a tropical state with an equatorial climate. It is hot and humid throughout the year with average daily temperature ranging from 23 c during the early hours of the morning to 32 c during the day. It experiences two monsoonal changes. The North East Monsoon, which usually occurs between November to February, brings with it heavy rainfall. The South West Monsoon from June to October is usually milder. Despite the monsoon seasons, the climate in Sarawak remains fairly stable throughout the year. Annual rainfall varies between 330 cm to 460 cm for the greater part of the country.

Natural Resources:
Sarawak is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Sarawak's forests are the state's most important resource and asset, producing timber and a multitude of forest products; it is also one of the world's largest exporters of tropical hardwood timber. The rainforest, which is the size of Austria, is home to an incredible variety of more than 8,000 species of flowering plants and over 20,000 animal species, the majority of which are insects. Sarawak contains the Mulu caves within Gunung Mulu National Park; among these is the limestone cave with the largest chamber in the world, Sarawak chamber. The Mulu national park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001.


Total GDP:

Per Capita GDP:

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary

External Aid/Remittances:

Sarawak aims to be fully developed state along with the rest of the country by 2020. Malaysia claims to offer one of the most attractive incentives packages in the ASEAN region, based on expectation that the global economic environment will remain robust and dynamic right up to the next decade, with both the industrial and developing countries anticipated to maintain sustainable output growth. Expansion in global trade is predicted about 8%, expecting the high growth momentum of the nation's economy to remain at a steady and stable level. The setting up of a number of free industrialized zones has brought into Sarawak a wide range of high technology industries. As the Sarawak government pursues its economic diversification policy, it has made available attractive incentives to all investors in the State. The availability of vast competitively priced land and rich reserves of natural resources has made Sarawak an attractive choice for manufacturing operations among investors. Some of the Industrial Parks in the state include: Mixed Light Industries, Mixed Light & medium Industries, and Hi-Tech & Electronics. LNG (liquified natural gas) and petroleum, have provided the mainstay of the state's economy for decades. Petrochemical projects that could be established include: polypropylene, copralactam, ammonia, melamine, compound fertilizer, MTBE, nitric acid, LPG extraction, acetic, methanol and urea formaldehyde. Sarawak is also one of the world's largest exporters of tropical hardwood timber. Malay villages (kampungs) consist of a cluster of wooden houses on stilts, many of which are still located by rivers on the outskirts of major towns and cities, and play home to traditional cottage industries.

Labour Force:

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)

Since the early 19th century, Sarawak has produced mercury, antimony and gold, palm oil, pineapples pepper, and rubber. In recent decades, LNG (liqufied natural gas) and petroleum, have been accessed. The primary sectors (i.e., mining, agriculture, and forestry) make up about 40% of the state's total real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), followed by the secondary sector (i.e., manufacturing and construction) with about slightly more than 30% of total real GDP. Sarawak Forestry's 1,400 strong workforce includes well-trained and highly motivated professionals from every field of resource management. In 1980, 9% of the population were some combination of part-time and full-time fishermen.

Niche Industry:
Sarawak has opened its doors to researchers and academics in the fields of animal science, plant science, aquatic biology, biotechnology, chemistry and material science which have wide applications and employment opportunities. Research plays a crucial role as it stimulates quality products and services distributing new technologies for use in both agro-based and manufacturing industries. Archaeological works have been carried out on more than 50 sites throughout the state. The most rewarding site is the West Mouth in the Niah Cave providing crucial and essential evidences of not only the history of Borneo but also of mankind.

Kuching thrives on tourism and visitors flock to attractions like the Sarawak Cultural Village, Damai Beach Resort and Bako National Park. As the capital and seat of the Sarawak State Government, Kuching is a garden city containing a number of attractions within walking distance of each other. The Kuching Waterfront is a 1 km long esplanade that incorporates ethnic designs into its mosaic floors and various food stalls, an open-air theater, an observation tower, musical fountains and many other attractions. The Main Bazaar, with its Chinese-style shophouses, is located opposite the Waterfront, the oldest street in Kuching, dating back to 1864. Another attraction is the Semenggok Orang Utan Sanctuary with rainforests for hiking. Daytrips by dugout canoe and a visit to a Longhouse are promoted.


Imports and Exports:

Exports: (2004) White and black pepper production 14,621 (tons) and 84,258,000 RM. Plywood is Sarawak' third most important export commodity, after liquefied natural gas and crude petroleum. Sarawak's exports have increased by 12 per cent or RM1,552 million from RM12,895 million in the corresponding period in 1995. Japan continued to be the leading trading partner and absorbed RM5,485 million or 38 per cent of exports in the first 10 months. Imports: Food items constituted 11 per cent of the total imports during the period, however, was up by RM114 million or 14 per cent to a total value of RM934 million. Machinery and transport equipment, which accounted for 43 per cent of the total imports of Sarawak, registered a drop of RM700 million or 17 per cent to RM3,535 million. The value of manufactured goods imported into Sarawak, during the period, amounted to RM1, 414 million, a decline of RM708 million or 33 per cent as against the corresponding period in 1995.

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Number of Airports:
Sarawak has modern and fully equipped port and airport facilities for international and domestic linking. Major airports in Sarawak are Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu airports. Malaysia Air Service, which operates daily flights from the national capital of Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, has direct links with the major cities in Europe, Australia, America and Asia. Air Asia also operates daily flights from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur. Kuching is also accessible to the rest of the world through connections from Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah).

Number of Main Ports:
Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri. Senari Port, a new deep-water port at Kampung Senari complements the existing facilities at the Kuching Port Authority.



Sarawak’s major towns and cities are well connected by transportation routes and have a road network system connecting all the major towns within Sarawak. Trans-Borneo Highway connects Kuching to all major cities in Sarawak, and carries on through to the neighboring state of Sabah through Brunei. The road system within the State is being constantly upgraded and public transport system improved to cater to increasing traffic volume. The Federal budget (for 2004) has allocated a sum of RM5.5 billion to widening the road networks connecting major towns in Sarawak.

The riverine transport system has a great significance to a large section of the population living in the interior and along the coast. This system is an important means of transportation to passengers and goods to large proportions of the population of the State. Sarawak has a total of 55 navigable rivers with a combined length of 3,300 km. Of all the rivers in Sarawak, the Rejang is the most important with a total length of 567 km; it is the longest river in Malaysia. Between 300-500 boats and vessels ply the river daily.

Other Forms of Transportation:
Most major towns and cities offer a variety of public transport services including buses, taxis and limousine services. Bus services are also available for those wishing to travel within the state from town to town, or even internationally to Indonesia (Pontianak) and Brunei.

Economic Zones:
Tax incentives and other facilities for the manufacturing sector are provided for in the Promotion of Investment Act 1986, Income Tax Act 1967, Custom Act 1967, Sales Tax Act 1972 and Excise Act 1976. Aside from the Federal Government's incentives, Sarawak on its own, offers special investment incentives. These include the competitive price of industrial land, generous rebates on the price of industrial land and flexible terms of payment with low initial down payment. Foreign companies may also own industrial land. Sarawak has identified four sectors as key sources of growth: manufacturing; commercial agriculture; construction; services sectors.

Energy Policy:

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)


Official Currency:

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
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Financial Services:

Telecommunications in the state has developed at quite an amazing rate, considering that there are still a lot of areas in the interior that are not even accessible by road. Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Malaysia's pioneer telecommunication provider has set-up an infrastructure enabling telephone facilities in even the most remote villages in the state. Most of the areas in Sarawak also receive cellular telecommunication coverage via the various service providers in the country. The past 5 years have seen an increasing awareness in Sarawak on using the Internet as an alternate means of communication. Through the 2 major Internet Service Providers (ISP's) in the country, TMNet and Jaring, most Sarawakians in and around the major towns and cities are going on-line. The recent introduction of broadband Internet access has seen an even sharper increase in the number of Internet users in the state. Through various projects by both government and non-government bodies, such as the e-Bario project, the state hopes to connect even the remotest of areas in Sarawak. The launch of Malaysia's first satellite, MEASAT in 1996 marks Malaysia's entry into space-age communications, impacting the communications, information and entertainment sectors. MEASAT is specially designed to provide both state-of-the-art communications and direct-to-user services.

Public Ownership:

Land Use:
With such vast land expanse, Sarawak has large tracts of land suitable for commercial agricultural development. Approximately 32% or about 40,000 km² of the state's total land area have been identified as suitable agricultural land. Nevertheless, less than 9% of this is planted with productive permanent crops, while the balance is still under shifting cultivation for hill padi (rice) which is estimated at more than 16,000 km². About 12% or 1.03 million (ha) of the total natural forest in Sarawak has been designated as Totally Protected Areas (TPA). There are currently 10 gazetted national parks, 3 wildlife sanctuaries and one wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sarawak. More than 67% or 8.22 million hectares (ha) of Sarawak's 12,398,500 hectares of land is under natural forest cover. The rest are secondary forests, agricultural and urban lands.

Sarawak produces approximately 9 to 10 million cubic metres of logs annually. The main commercial crops are oil palm, which has been increasing steadily over the years, sago, and pepper. Recently, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation was set up as a private company, wholly owned by the Sarawak State Government and is the principal management company of the Sarawak Forest Conservation Statutory Body.

Marine Activity:

The current fishing activities in Sarawak are mainly concentrated within coastal waters. As such, offshore fishing is very much confined to trawlers of 40 tons and above. More than 50 percent of the fishing craft are small in size which are either non-mechanized or equipped with outboard engines. 1980 (import tons) 23,264.44; (import value) $20 059 327; (export tons) 2 840.57; (export value) $20 735 414. Some of the coastal/ riverine areas have potential for aquaculture activities such as brackish water fish, tiger prawn and crab cultivating.

Marine Life:

Critical Issues:
About 12% or 1.03 million ha of the total natural forest in Sarawak has been designated as Totally Protected Areas (TPA). Recently, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation was set up as a private company, wholly owned by the Sarawak State Government and is the principal management company of the Sarawak Forest Conservation Statutory Body.


Capital: Kuching (pop. 458,300 in 2000) which literally means 'cat'. Major cities and towns also include Sibu (pop. 200,000), Miri (pop. 202,000) and Bintulu (pop. 102,761). The State is currently divided into eleven Administrative Divisions: Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri, and Limbang.

Political System:
Kuching is the seat of government for modern Sarawak. It has a Chief Minister, which heads a Cabinet of Ministers. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Negeri (or Governor), from amongst members of the State's Legislative Council. Elections are held every five years. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) resides in Kuching. As the oldest legislature in Malaysia, the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly was constituted in 1867 after its first inaugural meeting on 8 September 1867 in Bintulu. A written constitution known as the 1941 Constitution Order in Council was ratified on the 100th celebration of the Brooke Rule. It was also decided that the Chief Secretary would preside instead of the Rajah. By 1996, assembly membership had increased to 62 and has remained so until now. Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak is the title of the largely symbolic state Governor of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, who is appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or King of Malaysia. Tuan Yang Terutama Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Muhammad Salahuddin is the fifth and current Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak.

Political Parties:

Important Legislation:

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Associated Power:
Federation of Malaysia




(July 5, 2000) the state population was 2,176,800.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up


Migration: Cities and larger towns are populated predominantly by Malays, Melanaus, Chinese, and a smaller percentage of Ibans and Bidayuhs who have migrated from their home-villages for work. Malays have migrated to the cities where they are heavily involved in the public and private sectors and taken up various professions.

Crude Birth Rate:

Life Expedctancy:

Crude Death Rate:

Sarawak is home to 28 ethnic groups; each with their own distinct language, culture and lifestyle. The Malays constitute a large portion (23.0%) of the population, mainly concentrated along the coast. Larger towns are populated predominantly by Malays, Melanaus, Chinese, and a smaller percentage of Ibans and Bidayuhs who have migrated from their home-villages for work. The Ibans form the major ethnic group on this land with about 30.1% of the total population per the year 2000 census. The Chinese, who generally live in the cities are the second largest group, followed by the Bidayuh, Melanau and other native tribes of Sarawak. One of the most attractive features of the state of Sarawak and one which sets it aside from many of the other Malaysian states is its cultural diversity. With the 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak 45 different languages and dialects, Sarawak can be proud to boast racial harmony amongst a population of 2.1 million who adhere to a variety of traditions, practices and religions. The Melanaus have been thought to be amongst the original settlers of Sarawak. Malays make up 23% of the population. Chinese first came to Sarawak as traders and explorers in the 6th Century. Today, they make up 29% of the population of Sarawak. Today, the Chinese are amongst Sarawak's most prosperous ethnic groups. The Ibans form the largest percentage of Sarawak's population, making up some 30%. Reputed to be the most formidable headhunters on the island of Borneo, the Ibans of today are a generous, hospitable and placid people. Today, the majority of Ibans practice Christianity. Various Orang Ulu groups togther make up roughly 5.5% of Sarawak's population. The Penan are the only true nomadic people in Sarawak and amongst the last of the world's hunter-gatherers.

Class Division:

Official language of Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia) is still very much used by official government agencies and for official correspondence. Most schools also teach Bahasa Malaysia as the primary language, with English taught as a subject. However, with the major towns and cities fast becoming economic centres, English is widely used and spoken in Sarawak. With the large Chinese settlement in the major towns and cities, a variety of Chinese dialects are used, depending on the community. The most common dialects are Hokkien, Hakka, Foochow, Teochew and Mandarin. Most Sarawakians bridge the communication divide between the various ethnic groups with "Bahasa Sarawak" (literally meaning Language of Sarawak) sometimes known as local Malay. This is an adaptation of Bahasa Malaysia and is understood and used by many of the locals for daily communicating.

Sarawakians practise a variety of religions, including Islam, Christianity, Chinese folk religion (a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and ancestor worship) and animism. Many converts to Christianity among the Dayak peoples also continue to practice traditional ceremonies, particularly with dual marriage rites and during the important harvest and ancestral festivals such as Gawai Dayak and Gawai Antu. Malays are Muslim by religion, having brought the faith to Asia some 1000 years ago. Today, the majority of Ibans practice Christianity. The vast majority of the Orang Ulu tribe are Christians but old traditional religions are still practiced in some areas.


Education System:
Education in Sarawak comes under the authority of the Federal Department of Education and comprises the largest amount of the national budget. Primary and secondary school education is free in government-subsidized schools for students between the ages of 7 to 17 (a total of 11 years of universal education). Over 97% of seven year old children are enrolled in the public school system. The Government is soon to make primary education compulsory for all Malaysian children.

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Number of Schools per Island:


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Malaysia's private higher educational institutions have played a major role in providing education to students, and these have an enrolment of more than 270,900 students, including 15,000 international students. The focus of academic and research programs in Sarawak are in areas related to the science, management and sustainable exploitation of natural resources which are abundant in the state specifically and in the country generally. Sarawak has opened its doors to researchers and academics in the fields of animal science, plant science, aquatic biology, biotechnology, chemistry and material science which have wide applications and employment opportunities. Universities include: University Malaysia Sarawak, University Technology Mara (UITM), Tun Abdul Razak Teacher's Training College, Industrial Training Institute Samarahan (ILP), Technology Park Sarawak, Sarawak International Medical Centre (SIMC), and the Dato' Traoh International School.

Medical Services:


 Sarawak had been a loosely governed territory under the control of the Brunei Sultanate in the early 19th century. James Brooke became governor of Sarawak on September 24, 1841 and was appointed Rajah by the Sultan of Brunei on August 18, 1842; originally this territory was just the western end of later Sarawak, around Kuching. He ruled Sarawak until his death in 1868. His nephew, Charles Anthoni Johnson Brooke, became Rajah after his death; he was succeeded by his son Charles Vyner Brooke. The Brooke dynasty ruled Sarawak for a hundred years and became famous as the "White Rajahs". They governed with the aid of the local Malay and Muslim classes and employed the Ibans and other 'Dayak' peoples as their army. Japan invaded Sarawak in 1941 and held it for the duration of World War II until the area was secured by Australian forces in 1945. The Rajah formally ceded sovereignty to the British Crown in 1946. The Malays in particular resisted the cession to Britain and assassinated the first British governor. Sarawak was one of the main sites of the Indonesian Confrontation between 1962 and 1966. It became an autonomous state of the federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963 despite initial opposition from parts of the population.


Recent Significant Events:
(2005) 64 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 21 countries are urging the European Union, European governments and the European timber industry to reject the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme MTCC. The NGOs signing the statement do not acknowledge MTCC as a guarantee for sustainable or legal timber forest management because the MTCC does not respect indigenous peoples' rights. The signatory organizations include 47 European, 10 Asian, 6 American and an Australian NGO.

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:
Malays are famed for their wood carvings, silver and brass craftings as well as traditional Malays textile weaving with silver and gold thread (kain songket).. Their religion is reflected in their culture and art and Islamic symbolism is evident in local architecture - from homes to government buildings. Early Iban settlers, who migrated from Kalimantan, are famous for their tattoos which were originally symbols of bravery for the Iban warriors and have become amongst the most distinctive in the world. They are also renowned for their Pua Kumbu (traditional Iban weavings), silver craftings, wooden carvings and beadwork. Sarawak is unique to colorful festivals such as the Gawai Dayak (harvest festival), Gawai Kenyalang (hornbill festival) and Gawai Antu (festival of the dead). The Orang Ulu are artistic people with longhouses elaborately decorated with murals and woodcarving. They are also well-known for their intricate beadwork detailed tattoos. The Orang Ulu tribe can also be identified by their unique music - distinctive sounds from their shape, a stringed instrument not unlike the mandolin.


Based on the tz database http://home-4.tiscali.nl/%7Et876506/TZworld.html#asi; Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad http://www.cmsb.com.my/sarawak/mln.htm; Encyclopedia Britannica http://www.britannica.com/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/AB773E/AB773E14.htm; Rengah Sarawak http://www.rengah.c2o.org/news/article.php?identifer=de0444t; Sarawak Alive http://www.sarawak.com.my/; Sarawak Government Online http://www.sarawak.gov.my/contents/general-info/general-info.shtml; Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarawak;


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