Kinarut is a town in the outside of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. It is located about 20 kilometres in the south of Kota Kinabalu, and has become one of the stops for the Sabah State Railway. Kinarut is currently under the administration of the Papar district, which is led by the district officer.
Kinarut originally belonged to the Sultanate of Brunei. In the late 17th century, when Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin had to withdraw from Pulau Chermin during the Brunei Civil War, he built a base here at a strategic location protected by two rivers. He remained there for ten years as the Sultan of Kinarut and during this time the piracy off the coast significantly decreased. With help from the local Bajau and Dusun, he managed to counter several attacks from Sultan Muhyiddin.
The name of Kinarut is probably from the term "China Road" which emerged as a reference to a road that runs through the town. ..or maybe from the local Dusun word for "Kinorot" which means "cutting using a knife". The Dusuns of Kinarut originally from an area called "Nunuk Ragang" which is located in Ranau District. They migrated from Nunuk Ragang (Red Banyan tree) when that place was too populated. They dispersed to different areas. Some went to Tambunan, Keningau, Sandakan and Kudat. Some of them travelled south westerly towards the open areas of Kaiduan. The name "Kaiduan" comes from the Dusun word for "pogiduan" which means "a place to settle down". Some of them traveled further west downhill following a river called the Kinarut River where they settled down until today. Their first settlement in Kinarut was Kampung Labak and Langkuas.
The population of 18,029, according to the most recent census in 2010, consists mainly of Bajau (Samah), Bruneian Malay, Kadazan, Chinese, Dusun and a small number of Muruts. There is also a large Filipino refugee settlement in Kinarut, which has reportedly been the cause of some ethnic tension.
The main town of Pekan consists of shopping, residences, a kindergarten, and primary and secondary schools. Every Saturday, there is a street market known as Tamu, where vendors set up tents and stalls and yell to advertise their goods and food. The Kinarut River park, the latest housing development in Kinarut, greatly increased the local population. Some popular tourist destinations in Kinarut include Kindawan Horse Riding Centre, Dinawan Island, Lok Kawi Wildlife Center and the beautiful beaches. There are also historical sites in the town, such as the ruins of Kinarut Mansion. The Jovi Souvenirs Shop, the only Kinarut handicraft shop is located at the Kinarut Railway station booth and is very popular with the International tourists from around the world who took the "Train Ride" or locomotive ride on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Kinarut has divided into several villages:
Kampung Anak, Kampung Laut, Kampung Somboi, Kampung Lepasan, Kampung Sabok, Kampung Tampasak, Kampung Mook, Kampung Langsat, Kampung Kilirip, Kampung Labak, Kampung Kapalid, Kampung Kaiduan, Kampung Bisuang, Kampung Bolotikon, Kampung Nubong, Kampung Punson and Kampung Langkuas.
- Population Distribution by Local Authority Areas and Mukims, 2010 (Census 2010) (PDF; 1,9 MB), Page 138
- Richard Nelson Sokial: Colonial Townships in Sabah: West Coast, Homeland Publisher Sdn Bhd, 2012, Page 224-236, ISBN 978-983-40734-4-2
- "Did the police walk into a trap in Semporna?". Free Malaysia Today. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.