Bario

Background

Bario is an East Malaysian village located in the centre of the Kelabit Highlands in the northeast of Sarawak, very close to the border of KalimantanIndonesia. Situated 3280 ft above sea level, it is the main settlement in the Kelabit Highlands.

The Kelabit Highlands is the homeland of the Kelabit community. The Penan community has also settled temporarily in Bario. Kelabits and Penans, along with a number of other ethnic groups such as Kenyah, Kayan and Lun Bawang are known as Orang Ulu. The Kelabits, at approximately 5000 people, are one of the smallest ethnic groups in Sarawak. Like many other communities in Sarawak, the Kelabits live in longhouses on the highlands although some have built their own houses in Bario.

The Kelabit community speak their own language, known as Bahasa Kelabit. Many do speak Bahasa Melayu as a base language and some speak English as well.

The community’s main economic activity is agriculture, mostly growing Bario rice, which enjoys a price premium compared to other rice varieties from around the country and is regarded as Malaysia’s best-quality rice.