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Language & Culture
Bahasa Sarawak, or 'Sarawak Langauge' is a common language used by most Sarawakians. This variant is related to Bruneian Malay, spoken in the districts of Limbang & Lawas Sarawak & Pontianak Malay, which is spoken in the neighbouring West Kalimantan province in Indonesia. It is more similar to Ibanic languages compared to Malay variants in Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsula, which makes it mutually unintelligible for Malay speakers outside of Sarawak and Borneo.
English can be widely spoken and understood amongst locals. According to the 20 points agreement, in point 2 - Malay is the national language, and English should be an official language of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time.
Mandarin and major chinese dialects are also widely used, well understood and conversational by many who grew up in mixed cultures.
One of the most attractive features of the state of Sarawak and one which sets it aside from many of the other states is its cultural diversity. With the 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak 45 different languages and dialects, Sarawak has complete harmony and understanding among a population of 2.1 million who adhere to a variety of traditions, practices and religions. In Miri alone one can see the diverse cultures and traditions. Sarawak is a secular state.
With such varied customs and cultures, Mirians enjoy a variety of colorful festivals throughout the calendar year.
"Open House Culture"
Sarawak's many ethnic groups all celebrate their festivals with "open house", offering visitors traditional hospitality. The major "open house" festivals are Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Deepavali, and of course, Gawai Dayak, the Iban ad Bidayuh Harvest Festival that is only celebrated in Sarawak & Sabah.
During Gawai Dayak, which falls on June 1st, some long houses are open to visits. Please call the Visitor's Information Center for more information: Call : 434181 or 434180