Bario is a community of 13 to 16 villages located on the in , , , lying at an altitude of 1000 m (3280 ft) above sea level. It is located close to the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, 178 km to the east of . It is the main settlement for the indigenous tribe.
The name "Bario" comes from Kelabit language and means "wind". It is also known as the "land of a hundred handshakes" as to depict the hospitality of the local people. W.M. Toynbee, a Canadian schoolteacher, also the group headmaster of seven primary schools at Kelabit Highlands from 1963 to 1965, referred to Bario as "Shangri-La" (paradise).
The rocks of the Kelabit Highlands are comprised of mudstone, , and ranging in age from the to periods. In terms of , the region was a basin formed by warping at a zone where the was forced upwards. The estimated rate of uplift is 20 mm per century for the last two million years. In the Late period, Bario showed a lowering in temperatures during the (LGM).
The Bario community is located on the , consisting of 13 to 16 villages with a small number of roads linking them, covering an area of 3,850 km2. It is bordered by the Tamabu Mountain Range of mountains in the west and Apo Duat mountains in the east. was gazetted in 2005, covering 164,500 hectares of tropical rainforests. , , , and Bukit Batu Iran are located inside the national park. Mount Murud is the highest peak in Sarawak. Average daily temperatures in Bario range from 14-26 °C with average annual rainfall of 2000 mm.
The Bario area also forms the headwaters of the Limbang, Kuba-an, Libun, and Dapur Rivers; the latter two are the important tributaries for the Tutoh and Ulu Baram Rivers. A survey done in 1995 found that the pH of river waters around Bario was acidic, ranging between 4.8 to 5.2. This can be explained by the leaching of acidic organic materials from the soil into the water. Streams draining the Bario Asal area are of good quality with high levels of dissolved oxygen and a low amount of suspended solids. Chemical pollution was insignificant due to low or absent usage of chemical fertilizers.
However, to the east of Bario Asal, water was of poor quality due to deforestation and agricultural activities.
Bario has forests and 197 species of flowers were identified in 1995.
According to 2003 statistics from the Bario Rural Clinic, the Bario community had 305 households with a population of 1,487 people. Meanwhile, the Bario Town (also known as "Bario Asal") consists of 29 households and 192 people. Most of them are elderly or young parents with their children still in school. There are very few young people here due to limited economic activities in the community. In 2006, 55% of the population were farmers, 21% were pensioners and the remaining 7% were government servants. Most farmers were earning less than RM 500, which was below the poverty line in Sarawak. Due to the shortage of labour, foreign labourers from neighbouring Kalimantan, Indonesia are employed for agricultural production here.
The main language spoken in Bario is the . However, the is also widely spoken here. A few people speak English well, especially the city returnees.
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