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History of Miri


The earliest evidence of human population in the area dates back to 35,000 BC, from the nearby Niah Caves (Gua Niah)

Miri City seen from satellite

In 1989, the vision for Miri to become a city was mooted. The proposal received the blessing of Sarawak state government in 1993. A public forum was held in 1994 and a grand signature-collecting campaign was organised in 2004 and more than one-third of the population in Miri had put down their signatures in support of the government's efforts for Miri to obtain city status. Miri had the city blue-print drawn up in the early 2000s, while the government together with the private sector had managed to fulfill the Federal Government's ten main criteria of becoming a city.

The Sarawak State Government approved the then Miri Municipal Council's application for Miri to be elevated to a city and concurrently the Council to be upgraded as Miri City Council on 20 May 2004. The Federal Government approved its application on 16/3/2005. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak made an order on 12 May 2005 on the establishment of Miri City Council.The King of Malaysia, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong XII issued the Instrument for conferment of city status of name Miri City Council on Miri Municipal Council with full jurisdiction on Miri City on 13 May 2005. The appointment of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Councillors of Miri City Council was published on Sarawak Government Gazette on 19 May 2005. On 20 May 2005, the official proclamation of Miri City and appointment of Cr. Dato Wee Han Wen as first Mayor of Miri City Council were held at Miri and this was then followed by city day celebration. Now, 20 May every year is the Miri City Day.

World War II

Realizing that war was imminent, the Brooke Government, under Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, conducted preliminary work to establish airstrips at selected locations throughout the country. These airstrips would be located at Kuching, Oya, Mukah, Bintulu, and Miri.

With no air or sea forces stationed in or around Sarawak, the British government encouraged the Brooke Regime to adopt a "scorched earth policy" in the event of a Japanese attack. Later, it was proposed to develop a Denial Scheme. Denial Schemes were in place to destroy the oil installations at Miri and Lutong.

The Brooke Government heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (on 7 December 1941) and quickly ordered the complete and total destruction of the oil fields and airfields at Miri and Seria. Orders for the demolition of the refinery at Lutong and the denial of the oilwells reached the officer commanding at Miri on the morning of the 8th December, and by the evening of the same day the task was completed. The garrison, a company of the 2/15 Punjab Regiment, then left for Kuching by sea on the 14th.

On the 19th December 1941 the Dutch flying boat X-32 from Tarakan Island sank the Japanese destroyer Shinonome (Cdr. Hiroshi Sasagawa) of 1,950 tons off Miri, while another flying boat X-33 damaged a transport ship. The destroyer could not take the pounding and went down with her entire crew of 228 officers and men

Recent history

Miri was elevated to city status on May 20, 2005 and it is the 9th city in Malaysia and its local authority i.e. Miri City Council is the 10th city council in Malaysia.


Miri mainly thrives on its vibrant oil and gas industry, which contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sarawak. Sarawak Shell Berhad and Petronas Carigali have their headquarters based in Miri. Besides that, Miri is also home to numerous local and multinational oil and gas companies including Nippon Oil, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Halliburton and Petra Resources and many others. The oil and gas industry not only brings in the money, but also brings in a number of expatriates from various countries.

Tourism is the next focus of economy in Miri, as it has biodiverse ecology, and a myriad of flora and fauna species. A total of 4 national parks and a marine national park are all located within distance from Miri. Thus, Miri is often seen as a hub for ecotourism and is a paradise for the nature enthusiasts.

Miri is also a shopping paradise for its neighbouring country, Brunei Darussalam, as well as the neighbouring smaller towns like Bintulu and Limbang.

The regional airline MASwings has its head office in Jalan Airport in Miri. Previously its head office was located in the Beautiful Jade Centre in Miri.


Miri Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Malaysia. Besides, it is the busiest domestic airport in the country. The airport receives flights from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Singapore, Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Sibu, Bintulu and many other smaller towns throughout Sarawak. The airport is also an important aviation hub for MASwings's fleets to rural services that operate connecting flights to isolated communities in the interior. It serves as the essential airway to national parks such as Mulu Caves, Niah Caves, and Lambir Hills. MASwings is headquartered in Miri Airport. Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia operate flights to Miri.

Miri is accessible by road from Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and all major towns in Sarawak, and is connected to major towns in Sarawak and to Brunei and Sabah by the Pan-Borneo Highway.


Miri is often called the Northern Gateway to Sarawak and is one of the state's main and most important tourist attractions. It is surrounded by four world-class national parks (Mount Mulu National Park, Niah National Park, Lambir Hills National Park and Loagan Bunut National Park).


The Gunung Mulu National Park is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts the world's largest natural cave chamber, the Sarawak Chamber.

The Niah Caves in the Niah National Park are an important archaeological and historical site as one of the oldest human remains in South East Asia was found here.

Lambir Hills National Park contains very diverse species of flora and fauna and is ranked as the 12th mega-biodiverse site in the world. The Loagan Bunut National Park has Sarawak's largest natural lake and also contains diverse species of birds. There is also the recently gazetted Miri-Sibuti Marine National Park that has coral reefs and diverse marine life.

The city has 14 public parks and recreational grounds. Out of which, Miri Bulatan Park (a lake garden), Luak Bay Esplanade (a park at the sea front), Taman Selera (family picnic spot), Taman Awam Miri (a theme Park) and Miri City Fan are the more popular parks among residents as well as visitors. The Miri City Fan, a 10.4-hectare park right in the heart of the city, was accorded Malaysia's best landscaped city park in 2001.


Shopping complexes include the Bintang Plaza (now refurnished and renamed "Bintang Megamall" or Parkson as most of the locals call it); Boulevard Shopping Complex, Imperial Shopping Mall, Servay Hypermarket, E-Mart, Miri Plaza, Wisma Pelita Mall, Merdeka Mall (opens at 31 August 2010 but still under furnished and construction), MYY Mall (under construction) and so on.

In addition, Miri is also well-known for its fine handicrafts, especially the bead products. Handicraft shops along Jalan Bendahara and Brooke Road are favourite destinations among tourists and locals.

The entertainment outlets, restaurants and road-side cafes along South Yu Seng and North Yu Seng Roads, are the ideal and popular night spots.

Lotus Hill (Lian Hua San) Taoist Temple

This grand Taoist Temple located in the Krokop suburbs of Miri is South East Asia's largest Taoist temple.


View of Sunset from the Luak Esplanade Beach

Miri, being geographically close to the sea, boasts some spectacular beaches. Some of the popular beaches include Tanjong Lobang Beach, formerly known as Brighton Beach (Taman Selera), Luak Esplanade, Hawaii Beach, Bekenu-Sibuti Beach, Marina Bay (owned by Marina Mahathir), Lutong Beach and many more.

Coral Reefs

The Miri Reef off Miri is one of Malaysia’s most recent discovered diving locations. Within this patch of reefs at varying depths, from 7 to 30 meters, there is a variety of coral and marine life that rivals the best anywhere in Borneo.


Miri opened a Petroleum Museum to preserve the city's roots as an oil and gas city. The museum is situated on a hill with a view of Miri and the coast. The museum has been criticised as poorly maintained and underpatronised.In 2010, Tourism and Heritage Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said he was trying to get help from the two companies including Petronas to fund the management of the museum. The Grand Old Lady, Miri's first producing rig is situated at the museum.

Higher education

Curtin University, Sarawak Campus, Malaysia is the first offshore campus of Curtin University, Western Australia. Opened in 1999 in partnership with the Sarawak Government, it serves the educational needs of local and foreign students. Curtin Sarawak is the first foreign university campus to be set up in East Malaysia.

Other higher institutions in Miri City include Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia Kampus Sarawak, Jalan Bakam (Teacher Education Institute), Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara, Permyjaya (National Youth Skill Institute), Institut Latihan Perindustrian Miri, Permyjaya (Industrial Training Institute) and Riam Institute of Technology.


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Last modified: 11/02/11
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