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Miri is a coastal city in northeastern Sarawak, Malaysia, located near the border of Brunei, on the island of Borneo. The city covers an area of 997.43 square kilometres (385.11 sq mi), located 798 kilometres (496 mi) northeast of Kuching.
Miri was founded in 1910 when the first oil well was drilled by Royal Dutch Shell. Royal Dutch Shell also founded a subsidiary company named Sarawak Oil Field Ltd, which now operated as Sarawak Shell Berhad. The discovery of an oil field in Miri has led to rapid development of Miri town. During World War II, the Miri oil fields were destroyed by the Brooke government to sabotage Japanese operations in Southeast Asia but to no avail; Miri town was the first landing point of Japanese troops in Borneo. The subsequent Japanese occupation led Miri to become a target of Allied air raids which caused the destruction of oil refinery facilities in Miri.
Miri City currently elects one member of parliament from the Miri parliamentary seat (P.219) into the Parliament of Malaysia. The city also elects 3 state assemblymen into the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, namely Piasau, Pujut, and Senadin.
According to the 2010 Malaysian census, Miri City has a total population of 234,541. Indigenous people form the largest ethnic group in the city (61.3%, 143,736) which consists of Iban (61,273), Malay (46,723), other indigenous tribes (24,119), Melanau (8,313), and Bidayuh (3,308). This is followed by Chinese (32.1%, 75,329), non-Malaysians (5.7%, 13,362) Indians (0.5%, 1134), and Others (0.4%, 980). The Malay people here consists mainly of Bakong, Daliek, Miriek, Bruneian and Kedayan people. Miri has 19 out of 27 Sarawak ethnic groups, including Bawang Kayan Berawan, Lakiput (often pronounce as Kiput), Kedayan, Lun Kenyah, and Kelabit people.
There is great diversity in terms of languages spoken in Miri, as it is a location where there are migrants from all over Sarawak, some West Malaysians, several foreigners, and several Eurasians. Among the main languages spoken here are Malay: which includes both the local variety of Malay, Sarawakian Malay or Bahasa Sarawak, and Standard Malay; Malaysian Mandarin, and Iban. English is generally well spoken by the older generation, many of whom received primary and secondary education in the 1960s, which then, was in English: a token of British colonialism; or who have worked in oil & gas related companies that operate in English, where they picked up English. This is not the case for many younger Mirians, who generally were and are being educated in either Malay or Mandarin; most are capable of speaking basic English with grammar that’s heavily influenced by either Malay or Mandarin.
There are a few industrial areas in Miri, some examples include Kuala Baram Industrial Estate (Mixed, Light, and Medium Industries), Piasau Industrial Estate (Mixed Light Industries), Senadin Industrial Area, Eastwood Industrial Estate and Bekenu Light Industrial Area (food processing). Miri mainly relies on its oil and gas industry, which contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sarawak.
Author: Tamim Saad Alberuny