Baram River

The Baram River (Malay: Sungai Baram) is a river in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. The river originates in the Kelabit Highlands, a watershed demarcated by the Iran Mountains of East Kalimantan, which form a natural border with Sarawak. The river flows westwards through tropical rainforest to the South China Sea.[2][3] The Baram River terminates in a delta, which is subdivided into two units: East Barma Delta of Middle-Late Miocene age and West Baram Delta of Late Miocene-Quaternary age.[4] The western unit is composed of mudstones enriched in organic components (total organic carbon content is more than 1.0 wt.%) which constitute substantial oil and gas reserves.[5]

Baram River
Mouth of Sungai Baram with black water plume
Native nameSungai Baram , Telang Usan
Physical characteristics
at Miri into South China Sea
Sea level
Length400 km (250 mi)
Basin size22,100 km2 (8,533 sq mi)[1]
Basin features
  leftTutoh River, Temala River, Pelutan River, Patah River, Akah River, Buang River, Selaan River, Serungo River
  rightArang River, Tinjar River, Julan River, Silat River, Moh River

The Baram river basin has been part of Sarawak since it was ceded to the White Rajah of Sarawak by the then sultan of Brunei in 1882, an area of some 10,000 square miles (30,000 km2), for a perpetual annual payment of 6000 dollars.[6]

The river is crossed not far from its mouth by the Miri-Baram Highway, Federal Route , on the Batang Baram Bridge opened in 2003. Some 100 km upstream lies the town of Marudi.[7]


Batang (meaning "trunk" in Malay) is the name used for the main river in the river system such as "Batang Baram" (Baram river). For upriver areas, such as the areas surrounding the headwaters, the place is named as "Ulu" (which means "upriver"). For example, "Ulu Baram" is the upriver part of the Baram river.[8] "Long" meaning "confluence" is used by the Orang Ulu (upriver people). It is used to name the places located at the confluence between the smaller tributaries and the major river, same way as the Malay usage of the name "Kuala" (meaning river delta). The name "Pa'" (meaning "village") is exclusively used in the Kelabit Highlands such as "Pa Umor" village in Bario.[8]


  1. Ministry of Natural Reserves and Environment, Malaysia: National Water Resources Study, Vol. 29 - Sarawak (PDF; 72,3 MB) page 74
  2. Reed L. Wadley (2005). Histories of the Borneo Environment. KITLV Press. ISBN 90-6718-254-0.
  3. Louisiana State University
  4. Hutchison, Charles (2005). Geology of North-West Borneo: Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-444-51998-6.
  5. Togunwa, Olayinka; Abdullah, Wan (2017-08-10). "Geochemical characterization of Neogene sediments from onshore West Baram Delta Province, Sarawak: paleoenvironment, source input and thermal maturity". Open Geosciences. 9 (1): 302–313. doi:10.1515/geo-2017-0025. ISSN 2391-5447.
  6. The Pagan Tribes of Borneo, retrieved 22-05-2007 Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "处处垃圾 影响环境 美里河污染严重 (Garbage everywhere Miri River environmental pollution)". Xinhua Daily (Shihua News) (in Chinese). 15 June 2014. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  8. "Sarawak place names". Rough Guides. Archived from the original on 9 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2018.

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