The state capital is Kuching, which has a population of 650,000. Major cities and towns include Miri (pop. 300,000), Sibu (pop.250,000) and Bintulu (pop. 180,000).  At the most recent census (2010), the state population was 2.4 million. The population density is 20 people per sq km, the lowest in Malaysia.  Sarawak’s population is divided into anything between
27 and 40 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups (depending which classification method is used).  The largest are the Iban (29%), the Chinese (24%), the Malays (23%), the Bidayuh (8%), the Melanau (6%) and the Orang Ulu (a collective term for a host of up river tribes and sub groups, 5%).


Sarawak’s land area of 124,450 sq km makes it almost as large as Peninsular Malaysia or England ands lightly larger than North Korea or New Mexico.  It is located immediately north of the Equator between 0°50° and 5° north and 109°36’and 115°40’east.  It stretches some 800 kilometres along the north west coast of Borneo,and is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the South China Sea - a distance of over 600 kilometres.  It borders the State of Sabah to the northeast, where the Sultanate of Brunei forms a double enclave, and Kalimantan,  Indonesia, to the south and east.

The state is divided into three geographic areas - coastal low lands comprising peat swamp as well as narrow deltaic and alluvial plains; a large region of undulating hills ranging to about 300 metres; and the mountain highlands extending to the Kalimantan border.

About 80 per cent or almost 10 million hectares of Sarawak’s total land area is covered with forest (natural as well as secondary and planted forests).  The remaining 2.3 million hectares are under settlements, towns, agricultural crop cultivation and native customary rights land.  Sarawak’s rainforest is acknowledged to be among the world’s most distinct and species-rich.


Sarawak has an equatorial climate.  The temperature is relatively constant throughout the year – within the range of 23°C early in the morning to 33°C during the day.  In highland areas such as Bario, the temperature ranges between 16 and 25°C during the day and gets as low as 11°C on some nights.

The northeast monsoon, usually between November and Febuary, brings heavy rain, while the southwest monsoon from June to October is usually milder.   The average rainfall per year is between 3,300 mm and 4,600 mm, depending on locality.  Humidity is consistently high in the lowlands, ranging from 80% to 90%.

Political Status

Sarawak is Malaysia’s largest state by area, the 4th largest by population, and is one of the three sovereign nations that formed the Federation of Malaysia on 16th September 1963, the others being Malaya and Sabah (a fourth, Singapore, withdrew from the Federation in 1965).  The ConsƟtutional Head of State is the Yang di Pertua Negeri who is appointed by the Supreme Sovereign, the Yang Di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.  The state is governed by the majority grouping in the elected State Legislative Assembly, which is headed by the Chief Minister, who is assisted by a Cabinet of Ministers and Assistant Ministers.


Sarawak is presently divided into 11 administrative divisions – Kuching, Sri Aman, Sibu, Miri, Limbang, Sarikei, Kapit, Kota Samarahan, Bintulu, Mukah and Betong. Kuching is the seat of government for modern Sarawak and is home to some 458,300 people making it the highest populated city in Sarawak and the 7th highest populated city in Malaysia. Sarawak 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 present Chief Minister is YAB Pehin Sri Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud. Kuching is also where the Head of the State of Sarawak, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) His Excellency Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng resides.



Red symbolises the courage, confidence and sacrifices of the people in their efforts to achieve and maintain progress in the state. Yellow represents the supremacy of the law and the unity found amongst Sarawak’s diverse races. Black denotes the abundant natural resources of Sarawak: petroleum and timber. The yellow nine-pointed star represents the nine divisions and the aspirations of the people to improve their quality of life.



The Bunga Raya (Hibiscus) – the national flower appears on the right and left of the bird’s legs while the banner or ribbon on which the bird’s stand carries the new State Motto “Bersatu, Berusaha, Berbakti” (United, Industrious, Dedicated). Positioned on the bird’s chest is a shield bearing the state colours-black, red and yellow.


Sarawak Tanah Air Ku
Negeri Ku Tanah Air Ku Sarawak
Engkaulah Tanah Pusaka Ku
Tanah Tumpah Darah Ku
Ibu Pertiwi Ku
Rakyat Hidup Mesra dan Bahagia
Damai Muhibbah Sentiasa
Bersatu Berusaha Berbakti
Untuk Sarawak Ku Cintai
Sarawak Dalam Malaysia
Aman Makmur Rahmat Tuhan Maha Esa
Kekallah Sarawak Bertuah
Teras Perjuangan Rakyat
Berjaya Berdaulat


The economic activity of Sarawak is mostly dominated by mining, agriculture and forestry sectors. Other sectors like manufacturing, wholesale, retail trading and construction also contributed to the State’s income. The primary sectors (i.e., mining, agriculture, and forestry) make up about 40 per cent 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 per cent of total real GDP.

Sarawak is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. LNG and petroleum have provided the mainstay of the state’s economy for decades. Sarawak is also one of the world’s largest exporters of tropical hardwood timber. However, the state government has imposed strict log-production quotas over the recent years to ensure sustainable forestry management. Sarawak still, however, produces approximately 9 to 10 million cubic metres of logs annually.

With such vast land expanse, Sarawak has large tracts of land suitable for commercial agricultural development. Approximately 32 per cent or about 4.0 million hectares of the state’s total land area have been identified as suitable agricultural land. Nevertheless, less than 9 per cent of this is planted with productive permanent crops, while the balance is still under shifting cultivation for hill paddy (rice) that is estimated at more than 1.6 million hectares.

The main commercial crops are oil palm, which has been increasing steadily over the years as well as sago, and pepper. Since the 1980s, Sarawak has started to diversify and transform its economy into a more industrialised one. This endeavour has been seeing continuing success, with manufacturing and hi-tech industries now playing a significant role in shaping the economic expansion of the state.


Every person entering Malaysia must possess a valid national Passport or internationally recognised Travel Document valid for travel to Malaysia. Any person not in possession of a Passport or Travel Document that is recognised by the Malaysian Government must obtain a Document in lieu of Passport. Application for the Document in lieu of Passport can be made at any Malaysian Representative Office abroad. Holders of Travel Documents like a Certificate of Identity, Laisser Passer, Titre de Voyage or a Country’s Certificate of Permanent Residence must ensure that their return to the country that issued the document or the country of residence is guaranteed. The documents shall be valid, for more than six (6) months from the date of entry into Malaysia.


Foreign nationals who require a Visa to enter Malaysia must apply and obtain a Visa in advance at the Malaysian Representative Office before entering the country. A visa is an endorsement in a passport or other recognised travel document of foreigner indicating that the holder has applied for permission to enter Malaysia and that permission has been granted.

Foreign nationals who require a Visa to enter Malaysia must apply and obtain a Visa in advance at any Malaysian Representative Office abroad before entering the country. Visa that has been granted is not absolute guarantee that the holder will be allowed to enter Malaysia. The final decision lies with the Immigration Officer at the entry point.

Read more here for Visa requirement by Country

Return Travel Ticket and Sufficient Funds

A visitor is also required to present proof of his financial ability to finance his/her stay in Malaysia together with a confirmed return ticket to another destination.


Any person classified under Section 8 of Immigration Act 1959/63 will not be allowed to enter Malaysia even though he/she is in possession of a valid Passport or Travel Document, Visa, travel ticket and sufficient funds.


A visitor is required to complete the Arrival/Departure Card (Imm.26) upon arrival at the gazette entry points. This card is obtainable at any entry point, Malaysian Representative office abroad or travel agencies.

A visitor must present his/her passport together with the duly completed arrival / departure card to the Immigration officer on duty and he/she must ensure that the passport or travel document is endorsed with the appropriate pass before leaving the immigration counter.