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Even though the pre-history of Sarawak is relatively unknown, there is evidence to show that Stone Age people lived in the Niah caves in the Miri Division 40,000 years ago. Barter traders from china and Siam started out for Borneo in the 6th century and by the 11th century had reached Santubong village, the first capital of Sarawak. During this period, Buddhism and Hinduism were spread to Sarawak by the Sumatra-based Srivijaya and Javan-centered Majapahit empires.

In the 15th century, Sarawak became an autonomous region under the Brunei Sultanate. However, when the Sultanate found antimony in the upper Sarawak River in 1820, the Bruneians sent a Governor Pengiran Mahkota to establish his capital in Kuching. However, problems arose after the people were victimized and unfairly taxed, forcing Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II to send his Prime Minister, Raja Muda Hashim, to pacify the locals. During a local uprising, an English adventurer, James Brooke, arrived in Kuching and helped suppress the rebellion. As a reward, Raja Muda Hashim appointed Brooke as Rajah of Sarawak.

James Brooke ruled Sarawak from 1841 till 1868 when he was succeeded by his nephew, Charles Brooke. Following Charles’ demise in 1917, his son, Charles Vyner, ruled as the third Rajah until the Japanese invasion of December 1941. After the Japanese surrendered on September 11, 1954, the Australian Military Administration took over for several months. By then, the grossly under-developed country was bankrupt and in May 1946, Sarawak was ceded to Great Britain by Vyner Brooke for a sum of one million British pounds. Sarawak remained a Crown Colony for 17 years until September 16th, 1963, when the Federation of Malaysia (an amalgamation of Malaya, Sarawak, and Sabah) was formed.

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