Ethnic Groups of Sarawak


This is a list of ethnic groups in Sarawak, which is currently being updated from time to time due to the difficulty in classifying the peoples of Sarawak.

According to the Malaysia Federal Constitution Article 161A (7):

“The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of
“native” in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans,
Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabits,
Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs
(including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and
Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanos, Muruts, Penans,
Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.”

This has created a rather narrow interpretation of what native is. Some groups change names, or join a bigger group or become assimilated. Some are extinct. If there are any mistakes, or differing opinions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. This is by no means an exhaustive list, rather as a form of open discourse to share and learn about the diverse culture we have in Sarawak.

1. Bliun


2. Narom



3. Beluru


4. Kedayan

Location: Miri (also Brunei)


5. Melanau

Location: West Coast Sarawak, Balingian River

Other dialect/sub-ethnic: Tellian, Dalat, A-Liko, Matu-Daro, Seduan (Sibu), Segalang (Sarikei), Tanjong (Middle Rejang)


6. Baie Segaan/Bintulu

Location: Sibuti, Niah, Bintulu

Note: Some consider themselves Melanau, some don’t. Language is more similar to Kayan.


7. Kanowit revised by Alexianto, 8/1/2016

Location: Middle Rejang River (Kpg. Sungai Bedil)

Note: Close relation to Kajang-Melanau


8. Balingian (Siteng) revised by Alexianto, 8/1/2016

Location: Balingian 

Note: Intermarriage between A-Liko, Punan and Baketan created a new language that is distinct from the Tellian and Dalat Melanau.




9. Seru

Location: Kabong

Note: Extinct


10. Bidayuh

Location: Kuching, Serian, Kota Samarahan

Other dialect/sub-ethnic: Bukar-Sadong (Serian), Jagoi-Singai (Bau), Biatah( Padawan, Penrissen), Tringgus-Gumbang (Bau)


11. Salako

Location: Lundu (close to Kalimantan border)

Note: Malayic group with linguistic similarity with Iban and Malay, but due to geography decided to join the Bidayuh umbrella term due to small population.

12. Rara

Location: Lundu (close to Kalimantan border)

Note: Malayic group with linguistic similarity with Iban and Malay, but due to geography decided to join the Bidayuh umbrella term due to small population. Close cousins to the Bakati’ in Kalimantan.


13. Undu

Location: Lundu

Note: Extinct


14. Bisaya’

Location: Limbang, Lawas, Miri


15. Belait (Meting/Lemeting)

Location: Lower Baram/Tinjar river


16. Tutong (Tutoh)

Location: Baram river area


17. Kayan

Location: Baram, Rejang river


18. Kenyah

Location: Baram.

Other dialect/sub-ethnic: Badeng


19. Berawan

Location: Central-East and West (Baram)



20. Kiput (Lakiput)

Location: Long Kiput, Long Tutoh, northeast Marudi.


21. Lelak

Location: Tinjar/Loagan Bunut

Note: Extinct. Related to the Narom linguistically.


22. Murik

Location: Baram


23. Nyamok

Location: Baram


24. Chebup (Sebup/Sebop)

Location: Tinjar

Other dialect/sub-ethnic: Lirong (?)


25. Kelabit

Location: Bario, Ba’kelalan


26. Saban

Location: Upper Baram


27. Tabun


28. Patah revised by Richard Engan Ang 3/2/2018

Location: Long Terawan, Mulu

Notes: They are originally the Tering-Melawen ethnic group that resided along Patah river in Baram 200 years ago. The Tering group is linguistically related to the Kelabit and Tabun, while the Melawen is related linguistically with the Berawan.

29. Tagal

Location: Lawas

Note: Related to the Murut, Kelabits and Lunbawang.


30. Ukit

Location: Tatau, Baleh


31. Penan

Location: East (Baram, Tutoh, Limbang) and West (Belaga, Baleh)

Note: Divided into Eastern and Western groups with some language variation.


32. Tatau

Location: Tatau

Note: Sometimes considered Iban.


33. Bukitan/Baketan

Location: Kapit


34. Kejaman

Location: Belaga.

Note: Also grouped into the general Kajang people.


35. Lahanan

Location: Belaga.

Note: Also grouped into the general Kajang people.


36. Sekapan

Location: Belaga.

Note: Also grouped into the general Kajang people.


37. Lugat


38. Lisum


39. Sihan

Location: Belaga.

Note: Also grouped into the general Kajang people.


40. Iban

Location: Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Kuching

Other dialect/sub-ethnic: Batang Ai


41. Balau

Location: Simunjan

Note: Possibly Iban


42. Bitoh Kalla (Batu Blah) revised by Richard Engan Ang 3/2018

Location: Tutoh (Long Patan, Long Palo, Long Ukok)

Note: Similiarities with the Berawan, possibly related.


43. Maloh

Location: Lubok Antu

Note: Traders and metalsmiths that migrated from Kalimantan and settled in many ethnic group villages due to the demand in high-quality metalwork, eventually assimilated.


44. Milikin (Remun)

Location: (Kpg Remun) Serian, Simunjan

Note: Share some cultural affinity with the Iban yet maintains a distinct language that is unintelligible to the mainstream Iban language.


45. Sebuyau

Location: Lundu

Note: Speaks a distinct Iban dialect


46. Undup


47. Punan Bah

Location: Belaga.

Note: Also grouped into the general Kajang people.


48. Malang


49. Seping

Location: Belaga


50. Bah Mali

Location: Belaga, Baram, Tinjar

Note: Also sometimes grouped into the general Kajang people. Some say has similarities with the Chebup.


51. Sambup


52. Miriek

Location: Miri

Note: Related to the Kedayan and Dailiek.


53. Dailiek

Location: Miri


54. Lun Bawang

Location: Ba’kelalan


55. Lun Dayeh


56. Sipeng

Note: Possibly western Penan



57. Punan Batu

Location: Long Geng, Belaga



7 thoughts on “Ethnic Groups of Sarawak

    1. Batu Blah. The correct spelling Bitoh Kalla { Red Stone }. Berawan race in Tutoh river of Baram. this is whaT know.

      1. The Patah are the Tering/ Melawen tribe that reside in Long Terawan/ Mulu now. Last time this tribe stay at the Patah river in Baram river about two centuries back and that’s why other tribes called them the Patah tribe. This tribe is closely related and neighbours to the Bitoh Kalla and the Kiputs tribes together with the Nuats/Watts of Apoh river. Tering/ Tring dialect is quite similar to Kelabit, Tabun and Lun Bawang and Melawen dialect is similar to Berawan dialect.

      2. The Bitoh Kalla tribe reside in Tutoh river and there are 3 villages not far from each other namely Long Patan, Long Palo and Long Ukok. They are majority christians and belong to the Catholic church.The officals during Brooke regime wrongly put their tribe name as Batu Bellah{ split stone } while in actual fact it should be written Bitoh Kalla { Red[ Kalla ] stone [Bitoh ] } in their own dialect.

  1. just to help you out Dayak rambut Gold and Rosalia Mimmie….
    No.7 Kanowit….IS NOT IBAN….but related Kajang-Melanau. Still reside in Kampung Sungai Bedil,across Cannotwait town. Sawing as a Tanjung Dayak(also Kajang-Melanau speaking tribe) had lots of relatives in Sungai Bedil and Sawing n Sakalai(Matu Aliko,citizen of Melanau) can speak each other without language barrier….and some of Sakalai relatives came upriver to married the Tanjung-Kanowit people….and That time NOT ALL MAtunese were Mohammedans/Muslim. Both Sakalai and Sawing fled to nearby Kajang-Melanau village in Rajang river when Brooke Regime with Cannotwait Ibans helps did their OPS Sikap to burn n destroyed the Kajang-Melanau longhouse along Rajang River after Sawing/Sakalai gangs killed British officers….soon,the Ibans were granted to migrate more upriver of Rajang with Pelagus as the Border.

    No.68 Balingian Melanau.
    Balingian in the past was a small villages mixture of A-likow,Punans speaking people,that would be,the nomad Siteng or related Va’ee and Lower Baram language….) and Baketans(after Ibans chased them away from Saribas-Skrang-Kalaka). With the mixture language of A-likow after intermarriaged with Baketans and Punans/Penans,came a new variant language for these Balingian indigenous who happen to be Melanau Kingdom Citizen…,that’s why Balingian Melanau can’t understand and conversed much with their Melanau Telian/Dalad siblings….Today,some older people of Balingian still refer to themselves as Siteng who live in Bedengan,Bayan,Penyipa and those who live near Balingian bazaar would be the Siteng from Kampung Suyong,and majority still profess Animism while a Catholic church were built to accomodate Christian Siteng while other Muslim Siteng also live nearby at Kampung Mesjid.

  2. The Lakiput: since time immemorial, we tend to mispronounce Lakiput as just Kiput. Eg. Kenyah and Kayan refer to Tinjar river as Lameting. But some people say it Meting just like with the Lakiput – Kiput. In conversation, the Baram river is Cu Kefin (River Baram). Precisely, it is Cu Lakefin. People called it Marudi, from the word man tudi’ (Lakiput) which means to put down. There are many more……

What say you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s