Miri is the first oil-producing town in Malaysia. Therefore, it is called "The Oil Town".  Miri grew tremendously since the 1920s because of the petroleum and timber industries.  Later, many of the timber companies ventured into oil palm plantations and downstream wood-based industry.

Miri has a population of about 300,000 consisting of Chinese, Malay, Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanau, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Penans, and other indigenous groups.  The races are further sub-divided into different tribes, each having their own particular areas of living and language, tradition and culture.  However, everyone can speak Bahasa Malaysia and some English, albeit in a broken way.

For the tourists who like natural beauty and jungle adventure, Miri is the place to be.  Tourists can go to the Niah CavesLambir National Park and Loagan Bunut National Park.    By air, tourists can fly from Miri Airport to  Gunung Mulu National Park  (one of the only two world heritage sites in Malaysia),  and the Bario Highlands .  Off the coast of Miri, the Coral Reefs are an ideal place for diving and fishing.