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About Kuching

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Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia's largest state situated on the island of Borneo. In Kuching city, you will be astonished by the beauty of the green environment. The people here are kind and friendly and will assist tourist who needs help. The tourist attractions are located nearby and there's no need to take a taxi or bus to enjoy the wonders of Kuching.

In the city, there is a river separating the north and the south called the "Sarawak River". Riding a sampan along the Sarawak River is an unforgettable experience. From the river, you can get a spectacular view of the Malay Kampungs (Villages) with a gorgeous mountainous background. You also get to see a far distant view of the 19th century Chinese shop houses, the Malay mosque, the square tower and the attractive Margherita Fort.

In Kuching, there are old Chinese temples, Brooke era buildings with unique architecture, waterfront park, observation towers and museums. There is a wide range of accomodations ranging from budget hotels to luxury 5 star hotels. After a long day, you can feast yourself with local delicacies such as seafood, chicken rice, Malay Nasi Lemak and chinese noodles.

Kuching's name is originated from many sources. In the Malay language, Kuching means cat. Some sources say that Kuching originated from the Chinese word "Gu Chin" which means harbour. Another sources say that Kuching is named after a lychee like fruit called Mata Kuching (Cat's eye).



Kuching is the third capital of Sarawak, founded by the representative of the Sultan of Brunei, Pengiran Indera Mahkota in 1827. Prior to the founding of Kuching, the two past capitals of Sarawak were Santubong, founded by Sultan Pengiran Tengah in 1599, and Lidah Tanah, founded by Datu Patinggi Ali in the early 1820s.


More than 150 years ago, Sarawak was essentially Kuching. Kuching was known as Sarawak first, then the word Proper, was added to Sarawak, thus Sarawak Proper, so as to distinguish it from the larger Sarawak which, in 1841, consisted of only the area between Tanjung Datu, and the Samarahan River. On August 12, 1872, Sarawak Proper was given its present name, Kuching, under the rule of the second Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Brooke.

Kuching was named after a tidal stream called Kuching River (Sungai Kuching) that ran between the present-day Tua Pek Kong Temple, and Chinese History Museum. The stream originated from Cat's Eye Hill (Bukit Mata Kuching) where there was an abundance of a local fruit called Green Longan (Isau, Dimocarpus longan ssp malesianus), vernacularly known as Cat's Eye (Mata Kuching). In 1928, the stream was filled up to make way for the construction of Temple Street (Lebuh Temple), and thus the city's expansion eastwards.

Kuching as the Capital of the Brooke Administration

Downtown Kuching as seen from Fort Margherita
Sir James Brooke, the first Rajah of Sarawak.

Sarawak was a part of the Sultanate of Brunei before it was ceded to British adventurer James Brooke, who ruled it as his personal kingdom from September 24, 1841. The official declaration was not made until August 18, 1842. Brooke took over as a reward for helping to bring about a peaceful settlement facing Bidayuh uprising against the Sultan of Brunei. This marked an onset of three generations of the Brooke family rule.

Kuching became the seat of the Brooke government and underwent remarkable changes. As the administrative capital, it was the focus of attention and development. Some of the first things James Brooke did was to introduce a code of laws and build his residence on a site at the northern bank of the Sarawak River. The present-day Astana (Palace), which is now the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak, is next to the original Brooke building.

Under James Brooke, piracy and headhunting were banned and law and order enforced. However, Kuching remained cramped and lacking in facilities. It was not until 1868 when Charles Brooke became the Second Rajah that greater efforts were made to upgrade the town. Drainage was improved, new buildings and streets sprang up and old shophouses were replaced with brick ones. In fact, most of Kuching from the town centre and its outlying areas was rebuilt after the great fire in 1884.

The Brooke Administration was given the status of Protectorate under Rajah Charles Brooke's rule and was placed behind the Indian Rajas and Princes. By the end of the Charles Brooke rule, Kuching had grown from a small ramshackle place into a town with attractive Victorian-styled Government buildings and telecommunication service. Sampans (small boats) and trains were the primary mode of transport. There were even sports and entertainment facilities such as a race course and the Sarawak Club, complete with a bar, billiard tables and bowling alleys.

Kuching continued to prosper under Charles Vyner Brooke, who succeeded his father as the Third Rajah of Sarawak. In 1941, Kuching became the venue of the Brooke Government Centenary Celebration. A few months later, the Brooke administration came to a close when the Japanese occupied Sarawak.

Kuching was surrendered to the Japanese forces on December 24, 1941, and Sarawak was part of the Japanese Imperial Empire for three years and eight months, until the official Japanese surrender on September 11, 1945, on board HMAS Kapunda at Kuching. From March 1942, the Japanese operated a POW and civilian internee Batu Lintang camp, three miles (5 km) outside Kuching.

After the end of World War II the third and last Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke ceded Sarawak to the British Crown in 1946. Kuching was revitalised as the capital of Sarawak under the British Colonial Government. When Sarawak, together with Northern Borneo, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya, formed the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, Kuching was maintained as the State Capital. The town experienced rapid development, resulting in its incorporation as a City in 1988.


Kuching is situated at the banks of the Sarawak River on the North-Western part of the island of Borneo.

The limits of the City of Kuching include all that area in Kuching District containing an area approximately 431.01 km2 (166.4 sq mi) bounded from Gunung Lasak (Mount Lasak) in Muara Tebas to Batu Buaya (Crocodile Rock) in the Santubong peninsula following a series of survey marks as stated in the First Schedule of the City of Kuching Ordinance, 1988. As a simplification of the legal statute, the Kuching city limits extend from the Kuching International Airport in the south to the northern coast of the Santubong and Bako peninsulas; from the Kuching Wetlands National Park in the west to the Kuap River estuary in the east. The Sarawak River generally splits the city into North and South.

The highest point in the city is Mount Santubong on the Santubong peninsula, which is at 810.2 m (2,658 ft) AMSL, located 35 km north of the city centre.

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Last modified: 11/02/11
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