History of Sarawak dates back to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic age. But then, a 40,000-year-old skull of a young boy found in the Niah caves in the year 1958 and other artifacts bear testimony to the fact that Sarawak was inhabited even prior to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic age. From the 15th century onwards to the early 19ty century, Sarawak was ruled by the sultan of Brunei. However, things took a dramatic turn as James Brooke, who was an ex- British East India employee, arrived in the region.
Brooke arrived in the year 1839 and immediately became popular with the local leaders, who were at that time beleaguered by the rebellious Bidayuh and Malays. Rajah Muda Hashim was not able to subdue the internal conflicts and Brook met him at that point of time and offered the king to contain the rebellion in return of governorship of Sarawak. Brooke was successful in quelling the rebellion in the 1842 and subsequently became the Rajah of Sarawak. During his period of governance the area was embroiled in conflicts; pirates were common in the area and they frequently attacked the locals. Broke during his rule conquered many areas thus enlarging his area of governance.
After the death of Brooke in the year 1868, Charles Brooke, his nephew took over. He was much milder than his uncle and lacked his reckless and ruthless attitude and ruled successfully until his death in the year 1917. After Charles, Sarawak was governed by Charles Vyner Brooke, the second son of the first Charles Brooke. However, the reign of the Brookes came to an end with the beginning of WWII and the arrival of the Japanese.
The Japanese forces surrendered the governance of the state in 1945 and Sarawak was placed under an Australian military administration followed by the British in April 1946. Sarawak thus became a British colony; later on an inquiry revealed that the residents of the region were eager to join the Malay Federation. This wish of the people took a long time to be transformed into a reality and it happened only after the formation of a number of rebellious parties and uprising of communism in the area.
These mutinous parties and communism was finally suppressed by joint collaboration of the Malays and Indonesians and soon after, Sarawak became part of Peninsular Malaysia and a state of Malaysia. Presently Sarawak is more affluent than the neighboring state of Sabah; the economy increases annually at a healthy rate of 10% and the economy is boosted by the offshore oilfields and the state’s vast reserves of timber.
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