Hari Malaysia: Sabah and Sarawak

How much do you know about Sabah and Sarawak? Here are 10 facts about them that you might not have known.



  1. Originally, it was known as North Borneo before joining the Malaysian Federation in 1963. Sabah was also part of the 16th-century Sultanate of Brunei.
  2. The northeastern coast of Sabah, in the meantime, became part of the Sultanate of Sulu. The Sultanate of Sulu was located in the center south Philippine islands.
  3. Sabah is known as the “Land Beneath the Wind” due to its location 6 degrees north of the equator – jussst below the tropical typhoon belt…
  4. The name “Sabah” is from the huge amount of Pisang Sabaa trees on the west coast…which means “banana” in Indonesian, Malay and Afrikaans.
  5. The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially recognised ethnic groups. These are some of them:
    1. 1. Chinese: They are dominantly located in the capital Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan in the northeast Borneo coast and Tawau on the Semporna Peninsula.
    2. 2. Kadazan-Dusun: The Kadazan-Dusun believe that everything has life and that nature (rocks, trees and rivers) are all living things which need to be appeased sometimes through certain rituals – as all of them have souls and spirits.
    1. 3. Bajau or Sama-Bajau: You know cowboys? Some Bajau groups in Sabah are known for their traditional horse culture… The Kota Belud Bajau Horsemen are known as the famous Cowboys of the East.
      • They are also known as “Sea Gypsies” or “Sea Nomads” due to their seaborne lifestyle though there have been rapid changes due to rapid development.bajau
    2. 4. Murut: Otherwise known as the “People of the Hill”, or “Hill People” They are located in the southeastern parts of Sabah. The people of Murut are shifting cultivators, and speak 15 languages and 21 dialects.murut


sarawak flag

  1. Located northwest on the wild islands of Borneo, Sarawak is known as “The Land of Hornbills” with 8 out of the 54’s hornbill species.
    1. While they might seem goofy, they’re rather graceful when they glide and swoop across their surroundings, from their nests above in the treetops.
  1. Sarawak has 6 major ethnic groups.
    1. Iban: The largest population in Sarawak and originally known as Sea Dayaks. They are famous for their past of head-hunting, ironwood longhouses, intricate body tattoos, weaving and rice wine called tuak.
    2. Chinese: As 24% of the current population of Sarawak, they originally came as traders and explorers in the 6th century. They comprise of communities from 19th and early 20th century migrants.
    3. Malay: Traditionally fishermen, they formed settlements on the many rivers of Sarawak though they have now proactive in public and private sectors in the cities.
    4. Bidayuh: “Bidayuh” means “land people”. They are mainly located in the west end of Borneo. They speak various but related dialects and while some do practise traditional religions, many modern-day Bidayuhs have adopted Christianity.
    5. Orang Ulu: Interestingly, Orang Ulu means “upriver people”. It’s a term used to describe tribes that live up Sarawak’s rivers. Orang Ulu also consist of a couple of tribes such as Kayan, Kenyah and Kajang.
      orang ulu
    6. Melanau: From Mukah, they’re thought to be the original settlers of Sarawak and are some of the finest craftsmen and boat-builders (even now). It is believed that the Melanaus used to practice something verging on paganism, though they have now shifted to Islam and Christianity.
  1. Sarawak is almost its own country with its own administration, cultures and being home to more than 2.4 million people. Kuching has the highest population, followed by Miri, Mukah and Samarahan.
  1. The earliest human settlement in Sarawak was at the Niah Caves and dates back to at least 40,000 years.
  2. The hornbills represent the Spirit of God to the Dayak people and are important cultural symbols.

Selamat Hari Malaysia from SPEEDHOME!

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