Sarawak State

Sarawak State

Born from a man's dream, this land of natural treasures has come a long way since the era of the White Rajahs.

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The largest state in Malaysia, Sarawak is blessed with lush rainforests and is home to a variety of unique wildlife. Considered wild and untamed, large swathes of the state are still covered by rainforests and a large number of the local populace still reside in traditional settlements built along its many rivers. Sarawak is truly a nature lover's paradise, boasting ten national parks within its borders, including Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This richness of this state is not limited to plants and animals, but also encompasses the living heritage of the people who dwell here. Over 28 ethnic groups live harmoniously, their unique ways of life relatively unaltered by modern influence. Their rich cultures, steeped in traditions, form a living tapestry that enthralls Sarawak's visitors. The state's capital, Kuching, is a lasting testament to a man's spirit of adventure. The first White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke, who was rewarded with a kingdom by a grateful Brunei Sultanate, laid the foundation of the state, which prospered under his successors. Their legacies still can be seen all over Kuching, their former seat of power.

Any visitor to Sarawak will be amazed by the various cultural festivals celebrated by the people here, and awed by the grandeur of the world renowned Niah Caves. These wonders have spurred conservation efforts to preserve Sarawak's treasures, ensuring their continued existence for generations to come.

Once a part of the Brunei Sultanate, Sarawak was bequeathed to a British officer in the mid 19th century for his role in supressing a local rebellion. At that time, Sarawak was under the supervision of a Brunei official, Pangeran Muda Hashim, who was having trouble with the local populace. Pangeran Muda Hashim approached James Brooke, a British officer, who finally agreed to help quell the rebellion in 1841.

James Brooke's success led to a treaty with Pangeran Muda Hashim, who bestowed Sarawak and Sinian to him and appointed him as Governor on 24 September 1841. James Brooke would be acknowledged as the Rajah of Sarawak in 1842, marking the start of the White Rajah dynasty of Sarawak. James Brooke's efforts laid the foundation of a successful dynasty that reigned for a century with the aid of the indigenous people. The era was a prosperous time for the state, which greatly expanded. The White Rajahs also protected the indigenous tribes from exploitation and enlisted the Ibans and other Dayaks into Sarawak’s army. Sarawak, like British possessions in Southeast Asia, fell to the Japanese during World War II.

The last White Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke, made the painful decision to cede sovereignty to the British after the World War II and on 1 July 1946 Sarawak was formally transferred. It was said that the decision was made due to pressure from his spouse as well as promises of a generous pension. His nephew, Anthony Brooke, continued to claim to be the rightful Rajah of Sarawak but was banished later for opposing the cession. Sarawak was officially granted independence on 22 July 1963 and was admitted into the federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.