One of the 13 states of Malaysia, it is located in the north-eastern part of Kalimantan. In the XIX century, it was part of the British colonial empire. When deciding on the issue of the decolonization of Sarawak, a project of its accession to the Malay Federation (a state established on the neighboring peninsula of Malacca) was implemented. In 1963, Sarawak as well as Sabah joined the future state of Malaysia by signing an agreement that gave them some preferences in comparison with the rest of Malay states.
The preferences were mainly based on the specificity of the ethnic composition of Sarawak. Since the indigenous population did not speak Malay and, unlike Muslim Malays, professed Christianity or traditional beliefs, the state received the right to use English as its official language and was not subject to the principle that Islam is the official religion. At the same time, the agreement stipulated that the indigenous population of Sarawak received the equal rights as the main population of the country, the Malays (bumiputra status).
Among the several indigenous peoples of Sarawak, the largest are the Dayaks (Ibani) that constitute approximately 30% of the population. A significant part of the Dayaks continues to have a traditional way of life. Malays and Chinese share 23 and 24% of the population respectively. Other ethnic groups include Bidayuh and Melanau people.
The principle of power-sharing is of particular importance for the relationship between Sarawak and the central government. It is implemented via the National Front, an alliance of ethnic parties, which, along with the Malayan parties, include the party organizations of the other two primary ethnic segments of the country (Chinese and Indians), as well as ethnic Sabah and Sarawak parties. This configuration of power provides Sarawak with a permanent presence in the central government. In addition, a similar model operates at the state level. In general, this allows maintaining a balance in inter-ethnic relations. However, the problem of the distribution of oil revenues remains an acute problem in the relationships between the province and the center, since Sarawak (along with Sabah) is the major area of oil production in the country.