Introduction: Location and Homeland

The Kelabit at approximately 5000 people, are one of the smallest ethnic groups in the state of Sarawak.  Historically, they are a highland community that inhabit the Kelabit Highlands, a highland plateau with an altitude approximately 1000 meters above sea level and situated above the furthest reaches of the navigable rivers of Baram and Limbang Districts of Northeastern Sarawak.  Currently there are about 1800 people living in the highlands while most of them now live outside the highlands. They moved out mostly to get further education and to get jobs that suit their qualifications in towns and cities like Miri, Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Kuala Lumpur and other places overseas.  Many are involved in a range of pofessional occupations.

The Kelabit in the highands, like many other indigenous communities in Sarawak live in longhouses, although recently many families built single houses scattered around in the villages. Today, there are 16 villages in the area, which include Pa’Umur, Pa’ Ukat, Pa’ Lungan, (located along the Depbur basin), Long Dano, Pa Dalih, Ramudu (located along Kelapang basin), and Pa Ramapuh Benah, Pa Ramapuh Dita, Pa Derung, Ulung Palang Dita, Ulung Palang Benah, Padang Pasir, Kampung Baru, Arur Layun, Bario Asal and Arur Dalan, in the Merariu river basin. There are 4 other Kelabit settlements located further down the tributaries of the Baram River: Long Peluan, Long Seridan, Long Lellang and Long Napir.