Miri is a city in northern Sarawak, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Miri is home to a population of about 300,000 people and is thus the second largest city in Sarawak. It serves as the government administrative centre of Miri District (4,707.1 square kilometers) in Miri Division of Sarawak. Miri was elevated to city status on May 20, 2005 and it is the 9th city in Malaysia and its local authority i.e. Miri City Council is the 10th city council in Malaysia.
Miri is the birthplace of Sarawak's and Malaysia's petroleum industry, which remains the major industry of the city. The first oil well was drilled by Shell in 1910 (the Grand Old Lady), and is now a state monument and one of Miri's tourist attractions. Shell also built Malaysia's first oil refinery in Lutong, a suburb of Miri in 1914. Recently, vast oil reserves were discovered just offshore northeast of the city. Miri has grown phenomenally since oil was first discovered in the early 1900s, burgeoning into the modern and dynamic business, commercial and educational centre it is today.
The city's other major industries include processed timber, oil palm production, and tourism. The world famous Gunung Mulu National Park with the Sarawak Chamber, a half an hour flight from the city, is one of the favourite eco-tourism destinations. Miri is also the main tourist gateway for the Loagan Bunut National Park, Lambir National Park, and the Niah Caves. Miri is lately known for its exotic coral reefs as well.
The earliest officially recorded oil find in Malaysia was made in July 1882 by the British Resident of the Baram district in Sarawak. The oil was used by the local residents for medicinal purposes and later for lighting lamps and waterproofing boats. Commercial exploitation only began in 1910 when the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, the forerunner of the present Sarawak Shell which was granted the sole right to explore for petroleum in Sarawak, struck oil in the town of Miri, marking the start of the Malaysian petroleum industry.
By the 1950s, attention turned to the seas as the onshore oil fields in Miri shows serious depletion. This was made possible by new improvements in offshore petroleum technology. Marine seismic surveys were carried out for the first time in Sarawak in 1954. The shift offshore began to show results in 1962 with the discovery of oil in two areas offshore Sarawak. Other finds followed in rapid succession. The first offshore oil platform was West Lutong, about 6 miles from shore.
The last onshore oil field was shutdown in early 1970s as oil production from offshore Miri started. Miri started developing very fast ever since the Parliament enacted the Petroleum Act which force Shell and Exxon to share their oil revenues with the people of Malaysia. It is by this time that Miri began developing its tourism and service industry.
In 1989, the vision for Miri to become a city was mooted. The proposal received the blessing of Sarawak state government in 1993. A public forum was held in 1994 and a grand signature-collecting campaign was organised in 2004 and more than one-third of the population in Miri had put down their signatures in support of the government's efforts for Miri to obtain city status. Miri had the city blue-print drawn up in the early 2000s, while the government together with the private sector had managed to fulfill the Federal Government's ten main criteria of becoming a city. The Sarawak State Government approved the then Miri Municipal Council's application for Miri to be elevated to a city and concurrently the Council to be upgraded as Miri City Council on 20 May 2004. The Federal Government approved its application on 16/3/2005. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak made an order on 12 May 2005 on the establishment of Miri City Council. The King of Malaysia, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong XII issued the Instrument for conferment of city status of name Miri City Council on Miri Municipal Council with full jurisdiction on Miri City on 13 May 2005. The appointment of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Councillors of Miri City Council was published on Sarawak Government Gazette on 19 May 2005. On 20 May 2005, the official proclamation of Miri City and appointment of Cr. Dato Wee Han Wen as first Mayor of Miri City Council were held at Miri and this was then followed by city day celebration. Now, 20 May every year is the Miri City Day.
Realizing that war was imminent, the Brooke Government, under Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, conducted preliminary work to establish airstrips at selected locations throughout the country. These airstrips would be located at Kuching, Oya, Mukah, Bintulu, and Miri.
With no air or sea forces stationed in or around Sarawak, the British government encouraged the Brooke Regime to adopt a "scorched earth policy" in the event of a Japanese attack. Later, it was proposed to develop a Denial Scheme. Denial Schemes were in place to destroy the oil installations at Miri and Lutong.
The oilfields in British Borneo lay in two groups: one at Miri close to the northern boundary of Sarawak, and the other thirty-two miles north, at Seria in the State of Brunei. The crude oil was pumped from both fields to a refinery at Lutong on the coast, from which loading lines ran out to sea. Landings were possible all along the thirty miles of beach between Miri and Lutong and there was, with the forces available, no possibility of defending the oilfields against determined attacks. Plans had therefore been made for the destruction of the oil installations.
In December 1940, a company of 2/15th Punjab was sent to Miri for the protection of the demolition parties, and in May 1941 the rest of 2/15th Punjab was sent there to provide a garrison. This lone battalion consisted of approximately 1,050 soldiers under the command of Major C.M. Lane. These troops were entrusted with the destruction of Miri Oil Fields. It was to be known as the Miri Detachment.
In December 1941, The Brooke Government which had already heard of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (on 7 December 1941) quickly ordered the complete and total destruction of the oil fields and airfields at Miri and Seria. Orders for the demolition of the refinery at Lutong and the denial of the oilwells reached the officer commanding at Miri on the morning of the 8th December, and by the evening of the same day the task was completed.
On the 19th December 1941 the Dutch flying boat X-32 from Tarakan Island sank the Japanese destroyer Shinonome (Cdr. Hiroshi Sasagawa) of 1,950 tons off Miri, while another flying boat X-33 damaged a transport ship. The destroyer could not take the pounding and went down with her entire crew of 228 officers and men.
Miri fell to 2,500 Japanese invaders on 17 Dec 1941, after two days of fighting. The small garrison of Dutch troops was no match for the Japanese.
Miri's population consists of Chinese, Dayak, Malay, Melanau, Indian, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Iban, Bidayuh, Penan, a handful of Eurasians and other indigenous groups. Through this broad classifications, the races are further sub-divided into different tribes, each having their own particular areas of abode, occupation and language.
Miri International Airport is the fifth busiest airport in Malaysia in terms of aircraft movement after Kuala Lumpur International Airport,Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Penang international airport and Kuching international airport and receives flights from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Sibu, Bintulu and many other smaller towns throughout Sarawak. The airport is also an important aviation hub for MASwings's fleets to rural services that operate connecting flights to isolated communities in the interior. It serves as the essential airway to national parks such as Mulu Caves, Niah Caves, and Lambir Hills. MASwings is headquartered in Miri Airport. Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia operate flights from Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Singapore, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur to Miri.
Miri is often called the Northern Gateway to Sarawak and is one of the state's main and most important tourist attractions. It boasts to be surrounded by four world-class national parks (Mount Mulu National Park, Niah National Park, Lambir Hills National Park and Loagan Bunut National Park).
The Gunung Mulu National Park is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts the world's largest natural cave chamber, the Sarawak Chamber.
Lambir Hills National Park contains very diverse species of flora and fauna and is ranked as the 12th mega-biodiverse site in the world. The Loagan Bunut National Park has Sarawak's largest natural lake and also contains diverse species of birds. There is also the recently gazetted Miri-Sibuti Marine National Park that has one of the region's most beautiful coral reefs and diverse marine life.
The city has 14 public parks and recreational grounds. Out of which, Miri Bulatan Park (a lake garden), Luak Bay Esplanade (a park at the sea front), Taman Selera (family picnic spot), Taman Awam Miri (a theme Park) and Miri City Fan are the more popular parks among residents as well as visitors. The Miri City Fan, a 10.4-hectare park right in the heart of the city, was accorded Malaysia's best landscaped city park in 2001.
Miri is also well known as a shopping paradise among Malaysians and Bruneians. These include the Bintang Plaza (now refurnished and renamed "Bintang Megamall" (or Parkson as most of the locals call it); Boulevard Shopping Complex, Imperial Shopping Mall, E-Mart, Miri Plaza, Miri Square (closed down), Wisma Pelita Mall, Merdeka Mall (under construction) and more.
In addition, Miri is also well-known for its fine handicrafts, especially the bead products. Handicraft shops along Jalan Bendahara and Brooke Road are favourite destinations among tourists and locals.
The entertainment outlets, restaurants and road-side cafes along South Yu Seng and North Yu Seng Roads, are the ideal and popular night spots.
Miri, being geographically close to the sea, boasts some spectacular beaches. Some of the popular beaches include Tanjong Lobang Beach (Taman Selera), Luak Esplanade, Hawaii Beach, Bekenu-Sibuti Beach, Marina Park, Lutong Beach and many more.
The Miri Reef off Miri is one of Malaysia’s most recent discovered diving locations. Within this patch of reefs at varying depths, from 7 to 30 meters, there is a variety of coral and marine life that rivals the best anywhere in Borneo.
The Miri night life is full of colours and exciting places to visit, be it for a drink or two or supper. Most pubs and clubs in Miri not only cater for drinks and dancing, but also provide Western food and finger food. For those who are into karaoke, dancing, drinking and clubbing, examples of places that you must visit are Club Infinity and Karaoke (located at Boulevard Commercial Centre - www.clubinfinity.com.my), Cherries Berries, Islands, Balcony (located at Pelita Commercial Centre), Thai Bar (located at Yakin Commercial Centre), and many more.
Curtin University of Technology Sarawak Campus is the first offshore campus of Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Opened in 1999 in partnership with the Sarawak Government, it serves the educational needs of local and foreign students. Curtin Sarawak is the first foreign university campus to be set up in East Malaysia.
Malaysia's first oil well was drilled here in 1910, and petroleum has continued to drive the city's economy and development ever since. The Sarawak Shell Berhad and Petronas Carigali are headquartered here. As a result, Miri has a cosmopolitan atmosphere as it hosts many expatriates from all over the world. These expats work in many of the multinational oil and gas giants that are headquartered in Miri.
Visitors are able to stop for transit here to change planes heading onward to Gunung Mulu National Park or the famous Kelabit Highlands.
Miri boasts of a very diversified population, which consists of Chinese, Malay, Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau, Kelabit, Lun Bawang and many other ethnic groups. International students from a foreign university campus based here and expatriates from international corporations add much spice to Miri as well.
Language is certainly not a problem here, as almost all locals are able to speak English and Mandarin. The main language is the Bahasa Sarawak which is a local Sarawakian language; it is similiar to Malay but with local slangs.
The people are quite helpful when it comes to direction or any help needed. A visitor's information centre located near the public bus stand is available for any further enquiries needed by visitors.
Miri celebrated its third city status anniversary from 21st-23rd May 2008.
Miri International Airport (MYY), which moved to a sparkling new facility in 2005, is a significant hub for central Borneo. From Peninsular Malaysia there are frequent flights from Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru on Malaysia Airlines  and AirAsia . The airport is also connected to all major destinations in Malaysian Borneo, including Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.
MASWings , which took over operations of the rural air service from FlyAsian Express on October 1, 2007, operates a web of flights to remote destinations in the interior, most notably Gunung Mulu National Park and Bario in the Kelabit Highlands. MASWings also links Miri with Limbang, Lawas and Labuan which will enable you to by-pass expensive Brunei. Go to their website to book flights on-line and check schedules.
From Kuala Belait, there are onward buses to Seria, where another change is necessary before you can get to Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB). As not all buses arrive on time for connections for the next leg of the journey, those planning to do the Miri-Bandar Seri Begawan (or vice-versa) run should start early. Effective 26th May,2009 there are only two buses leaving Miri for BSB. The 9AM is the only bus that will enable the Miri-BSB journey to be completed within one day. Those who intend to spend a night in Brunei can catch the later bus which leaves at 3.30PM. Buses arrive and depart from the Miri local bus terminal at Jalan Padang in the south of the town (not the long haul bus terminal outside of town). Having said that the whole journey takes about 5 hours.
Note that there have been reports that buses from Miri do not go all the way to the border and stop just before the Asean Bridge at Kuala Baram because of the high toll charge for using the bridge. You may have to use taxis to complete the final 5 km between the bridge and the actual border.
Go to Miri  to seek or share information on how to get around in this wonderful city.
Bus services are available.
24-hour taxi service is also available and can be reached at +6085432277. Fare surcharge applies after 12AM.
There are three major shopping malls to shop around in Miri City, During the weekends Bruneians and Sarawakians from Bintulu, Bekenu, Niah would come down for Shopping.
For a fabulous gastronomical experience, Miri is the place to try out all sorts of food. Depending on your budget, there is a variety of eateries around.
Chen Kee Hainan Chicken Rice- Miri famous Chinese dishes, traditional steamed Chicken rice, located at krokop 10, Tokyo Restaurant. It's delicious, Fresh, Cheap.
Tourists are encouraged to try the Sarawakian authentic rice wine known as 'tuak'. 'Tuak' is usually served during festive seasons, especially during Gawai (the Harvest Festival celebrated by the Ibans). Apart from that, if one is looking for a place for drinks and some entertainment, there are few places to go.
Lovely gardens, nice pool, pool bar, food can be ordered from the pool and eaten at the bar. Basic but sandy beach, meals are quite expensive but good quality, although there is a nice food court just a 2-minute walk from the Marriot.