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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  State  —


Coat of arms
Motto: Sabah Maju Jaya
Anthem: Sabah Tanah Airku
Coordinates: 5°15′N 117°0′E / 5.25°N 117°E / 5.25; 117Coordinates: 5°15′N 117°0′E / 5.25°N 117°E / 5.25; 117
Capital Kota Kinabalu
 - Ruling party Barisan Nasional
 - Governor Ahmadshah Abdullah
 - Chief Minister (Ketua Menteri) Musa Aman
 - Total 76,115 km2 (29,388.2 sq mi)
Population (2009 est.)
 - Total 3,202,880
 Density 42.1/km2 (109/sq mi)
 - Demonym Sabahan
Human Development Index
 - HDI (2003) 0.735 (medium)
Postal code 88xxx to 91xxx
Calling code 087 (Inner District)
088 (Kota Kinabalu & Kudat)
089 (Lahad Datu, Sandakan & Tawau)
Vehicle registration SA,SAA,SAB (Kota Kinabalu & Kota Belud)
SB (Beaufort)
SD (Lahad Datu)
SK (Kudat)
SS (Sandakan)
ST (Tawau)
SU (Keningau)
Former name North Borneo
Brunei Sultanate 16th century
Sulu Sultanate 1658
British North Borneo 1882
Japanese occupation 1941-1945
British Crown Colony 1946
Accession into Malaysia 16 September 1963

Sabah is a Malaysian state located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in Malaysia after Sarawak, which it borders on its south-west. It also shares a border with the province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south. In spite of its status as a Malaysian state, Sabah remains a disputed territory; the Philippines has a dormant claim over much of the eastern part of the territory. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton. Sabah is known as "Sabah, negeri di bawah bayu", which means "Sabah, the land below the wind", because of its location just south of the typhoon-prone region around the Philippines.



The region of present-day sabah (raza) was part of the Sultanate of Brunei around the early 16th century. This was during the period when the Sultanate was at its 'golden era.' The region was known as Sava to Portuguese explorers. In 1658 the Sultan of Brunei ceded the northeast portion of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu in compensation for the latter's help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate. In 1761 an officer of the British East India Company, Alexander Dalrymple, concluded an agreement with the Sultan of Sulu to allow him to set up a trading post in the region. This together with other attempts to build a settlement and a military station centering around Pulau Balambangan proved to be a failure. There was minimal foreign interest in this region afterward and control over most parts of north Borneo seems to have remained under the Sultanate of Brunei. Southern portion of Palawan, Philippines was once to be part of Sabah, Palawan's proximity to Borneo, southern portions of the island was under the control of the Sultanate of Borneo for more than two centuries, and Islam was introduced. During the same period, trade relations flourished, and intermarriages among the natives and the Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Hindu. The inter-mixing of blood resulted to a distinct breed of Palaweños, both in physical stature and features. In 1749, the Sultanate of Borneo ceded southern Palawan to Spain.[1]

In 1865 the American Consul of Brunei, Claude Lee Moses, obtained a 10-year lease over North Borneo from the Sultan of Brunei. Ownership was then passed to an American trading company owned by J.W. Torrey, T.B. Harris and some Chinese merchants. They set up a base and settlement in Kimanis but this too failed due to financial reasons. The rights of the trading company were then sold to Baron Von Overbeck, the Austrian Consul in Hong Kong, and he later obtained another 10-year renewal of the lease. The rights were subsequently transferred to Alfred Dent, whom in 1881 formed the British North Borneo Provisional Association Ltd.

In the following year, the British North Borneo Company was formed and Kudat was made its capital. In 1883 the capital was moved to Sandakan to capitalise on its potential of vast timber resources. In 1888 North Borneo became a protectorate of the United Kingdom. Administration and control over North Borneo remained in the hands of the Company despite being a protectorate and they effectively ruled until 1942. Their rule had been generally peaceful except for some rebellions, including one led by the Suluk-Bajau leader Mat Salleh from 1894 to 1900,[2] and another led by Antanum[3] of the Muruts which is known as the Rundum resistance in 1915.[4]


Second World War and the road to independence

From 1942 to 1945 during the Second World War, Japanese forces occupied North Borneo. The Japanese forces landed in Labuan on January 1, 1942, and continued to invade the rest of North Borneo. Bombings by the allied forces devastated of most towns including Sandakan, which was totally razed to the ground. Resistance against Japanese occupation were concentrated on the west and north coast of North Borneo. The resistance in Jesselton was led by Albert Kwok and Jules Stephens of the Kinabalu Guerillas. Another resistance was led by Panglima Alli from Sulug Island, off the coast of Jesselton. In Kudat, there were also some resistance led by Tun Datu Mustapha. On October 10, 1943, the Kinabalu Guerrillas together with followers of Panglima Alli staged a surprise attack on the Japanese. The attack however was foiled. The 324 local residents who participated in the attacks, including Albert Kwok and Panglima Alli, were detained in Petagas and later executed on January 21, 1944.[5] The site of the execution is today known as the Petagas War Memorial.

In Sandakan there was once a brutal POW camp run by the Japanese for the prisoner British and Australian servicemen from North Borneo. They raped the locals all the time. They suffered in agony in their first year of captivity under notoriously inhuman conditions, but much worse was to come through forced marches of January, March and June 1945 ( refer to Sandakan Memorial Park WWII POW Museum Records ). Allied bombardments caused the Japanese to relocate the POW camp to inland Ranau, 260 km away. All the prisoners, who by then were thinned down to 2504 in numbers, were to be moved, but instead of transport, were forced to march the infamous "Sandakan-Ranau Death March" route. Sickness, disease, exhaustion, thirst, hunger, whipping or shooting of the failed escapees killed their lot except for the six Australians who successfully escaped, were never caught and survived to tell the horrific story of the death march. The fallen of this march are commemorated each year on Anzac Day (Memorial Day) in Australia and in Sandakan, at the original POW campsite where a POW hut style museum and a black marble memorial obelisk monument are nestling in a leafy, lilly ponded and peaceful park setting.

When Japan surrendered at the end of the war, North Borneo was administered by the British Military Administration and in 1946 it became a British Crown Colony. Jesselton was chosen to replace Sandakan as the capital. The Crown continued to rule North Borneo until 1963. On August 31, 1963 North Borneo attained self-government. There was a call for complete independence on that date by it was denied by the British Governor who remained in power until Malaysia Day.[6] The intention had been to form Malaysia on August 31 but due to objection from the Philippines and Indonesia, the formation had to be postponed to September 16.[citation needed] On September 16, 1963, North Borneo together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore formed the Federation of Malaysia and from then on, it became known as Sabah and declared independent from British sovereignty.[4][7] To safeguard the interest of North Borneo in the new federation, a 20-point agreement was entered into between the federal and the state government.

Philippine claim

The Sultanate of Sulu was granted the north-eastern part of the territory as a prize for helping the Sultan of Brunei against his enemies and from then on that part of Borneo was recognized as part of the Sultan of Sulu's sovereignty. In 1878, Baron Von Overbeck, an Austrian partner representing The British North Borneo Company and his British partner Alfred Dent, leased the territory of Sabah. In return, the company was to provide arms to the Sultan to resist the Spaniards and 5,000 Malayan dollars annual rental based on the Mexican dollar's value at that time or its equivalent in gold. This lease was continued until the independence and formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963 together with Singapore, Sarawak and the states of Malaya. As of 2004, the Malaysian Embassy to the Philippines had been paying cession/rental money amounting to US$1,500 per year (about 6,300 Malaysian Ringgits) to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.

The contract between Sri Paduka Maulana Al Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam, representing the sultanate as owner and sovereign of Sabah on one hand, and that of Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent representing the North Borneo Company, on the other as lessees of Sabah, was executed on January 22, 1878. The Lease prohibits the transfer of Sabah to any nation, company or individual without the consent of His Majesty’s Government (“Government of the Sultan of Sulu”).[8]

Less than a decade later, the Sultanate of Sulu came under the control of Spain and in 1885, Spain relinquished all of its claim to Borneo to the British in the Madrid Protocol of 1885.[9] In spite of that, in 1906 and 1920 the United States formally reminded United Kingdom that Sabah did not belong to them and was still part of the Sultanate of Sulu on the premise that Spain never acquired sovereignty over North Borneo to transfer all its claims of sovereignty over North Borneo to the United Kingdom on the Madrid Protocol of 1885. This is so because the Sultan of Sulu did not include his territory and dominion in North Borneo in signing the treaty of 1878 recognizing the Spanish sovereignty over “Jolo and its dependencies.”.[citation needed] North Borneo was never considered a dependency of Jolo.[citation needed] However, the British Government ignored the reminder and still annexed the territory of North Borneo as a Crown Colony on July 10, 1946. This was in spite of the fact that the British Government was aware of the decision made by the High Court of North Borneo on December 19, 1939, that the successor of the Sultan in the territory of Sabah was the Government of the Philippine Islands and not United Kingdom.[10]

On September 12, 1962, during President Diosdado Macapagal's administration, the territory of North Borneo, and the full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory were ceded by the then reigning Sultan of Sulu, HM Sultan Muhammad Esmail E. Kiram I, to the Republic of the Philippines.[11] The cession effectively gave the Philippine government the full authority to pursue their claim in international courts. The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation had included Sabah in 1963. It was revoked in 1989 because succeeding Philippine administrations have placed the claim in the back burner in the interest of pursuing cordial economic and security relations with Kuala Lumpur.[12]


Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia.

The western part of Sabah is generally mountainous, containing the three highest mountains in Malaysia. The most prominent range is the Crocker Range which houses several mountains of varying height from about 1,000 metres to 4,000 metres. At the height of 4,095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia . The jungles of Sabah are classified as rainforests and host a diverse array of plant and animal species. Kinabalu National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of its richness in plant diversity combined with its unique geological, topographical, and climatic conditions.[13]

Lying nearby Mount Kinabalu is Mount Tambuyukon. At a height of 2,579 metres, it is the third highest peak in the country. Adjacent to the Crocker Range is the Trus Madi Range which houses the second highest peak in the country, Mount Trus Madi, at a height of 2,642 metres. There are lower ranges of hills extending towards the western coasts, southern plains, and the interior or central part of Sabah. These mountains and hills are traversed by an extensive network of river valleys and are in most cases covered with dense rainforest.

The central and eastern portion of Sabah are generally lower mountain ranges and plains with occasional hills. Kinabatangan River begins from the western ranges and snakes its way through the central region towards the east coast out into the Sulu Sea. It is the second longest river in Malaysia after Rejang River at a length of 560 kilometres. The forests surrounding the river valley also contains an array of wildlife habitats, and is the largest forest-covered floodplain in Malaysia.[14]

The northern tip of Borneo at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau

Other important wildlife regions in Sabah include Maliau Basin, Danum Valley, Tabin, Imbak Canyon and Sepilok. These places are either designated as national parks, wildlife reserves, virgin jungle reserves, or protection forest reserve.

Over three quarters of the human population inhabit the coastal plains. Major towns and urban centers have sprouted along the coasts of Sabah. The interior region remains sparsely populated with only villages, and the occasional small towns or townships.

Beyond the coasts of Sabah lie a number of islands and coral reefs, including the largest island in Malaysia, Pulau Banggi. Other large islands include, Pulau Jambongan, Pulau Balambangan, Pulau Timbun Mata, Pulau Bumbun, and Pulau Sebatik. Other popular islands mainly for tourism are, Pulau Sipadan, Pulau Selingan, Pulau Gaya, Pulau Tiga, and Pulau Layang-Layang.


State government structure

Administrative divisions and districts of Sabah

Sabah is a representative democracy with universal suffrage for all citizens above 21 years of age. However, legislation regarding state elections are within the powers of the federal government and not the state. The Yang di-Pertua Negeri sits at the top of the hierarchy followed by the state legislative assembly and the state cabinet. The Yang di-Pertuan Negeri is officially the head of state however its functions are largely ceremonial. The chief minister is the head of government and is also the leader of the state cabinet. The legislature is based on the Westminster system and therefore the chief minister is appointed based on his or her ability to command the majority of the state assembly. A general election representatives in the state assembly must be held every five years. This is the only elected government body in the state, with local authorities being fully appointed by the state government owing to the suspension of local elections by the federal government. The assembly meets at the state capital, Kota Kinabalu. Members of the state assembly are elected from 60 constituencies which are delineated by the Election Commission of Malaysia and may not necessarily result in constituencies of same voter population sizes. Sabah is also represented in the federal parliament by 25 members elected from the same number of constituencies.

The present elected state and federal government posts are held by Barisan Nasional (BN), a coalition of parties which includes United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).[citation needed]

The last state election was in 2004 and as of 2006, the state legislature has 60 members. It comprises 59 BN state legislature members (Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri) and a single independent. Of this, 32 are from UMNO, 13 from PBS, 5 from UPKO, 4 from the SAPP, 3 from LDP, and one each from MCA and PBRS.[15]

See also: Breakdown of state seats representatives in Sabah elected 2008

The political climate

Prior to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the then North Borneo interim government submitted a 20-point agreement to the Malayan government as conditions before Sabah would join the Federation. Sabah entered Malaysia as an autonomous state with a Christian Kadazan-Dusun chief minister, but soon succumbed to Kuala Lumpur's vision of a one-party unitary Islamic state dominated by the indigenous Muslim Bajau and Brunei Malay people. This has created considerable friction and even occasional calls for secession. These tensions are further inflamed by Kuala Lumpur's colonial mentality towards Sabah, wherein 95% of the profits from Sabah's immense natural resources are taken by the federal government, leaving the state government with only 5%. Aside from nominally separate immigration controls, little evidence remains of Sabah's theoretical autonomy.

Until the Malaysian general election, 2008, Sabah, along with the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, are the only three states in Malaysia that had ever been ruled by opposition parties not part of the ruling BN coalition. Led by Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, PBS formed government after winning the 1985 elections and ruled Sabah until 1994. Due to certain internal troubles, BN took over the government in 1994 despite PBS winning the elections. PBS subsequently joined the BN coalition in 2002.

A unique feature of Sabah politics was a policy initiated by the BN in 1994 whereby the chief minister's post is rotated among the coalition parties every 2 years regardless of the party in power at the time, thus theoretically giving an equal amount of time for each major ethnic group to rule the state. This extremely weakens the executive branch of the state government, which was formerly much at odds with the federal government in Kuala Lumpur. It also serves to give a disproportionate power to the indigenous Muslim Bajau ethnic group, at the expense of the mainly Christian indigenous Kadazan-Dusun, the largest ethnic group. This practice has since stopped with power now held by majority in the state assembly by the UMNO party, which also holds a majority in the national parliament.

There has been a conspiracy theory that the chief minister post rotation system was implemented to allow UMNO to control the post permanently by abolishing the whole system once it was UMNO's turn to hold the post. It has never been proven but it is considered impossible for UMNO to get a hold of the post through any other method. The conspiracy theory was brought up once again when a division from UMNO proposed to implement the same rotation system in Penang, when it was under BN rule. It was one of the two states which were not controlled by UMNO but was under BN rule (the other state being Sarawak). The proposal was raised even though UMNO abolished the system in Sabah by declaring it a failure.[citation needed]

UMNO had a quick rise to power since its entry into Sabah in 1991 where before that both eastern Malaysian states were not penetrated by the party, whose president is the de facto leader of the ruling coalition BN and automatically the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This has given rise to dissent as the chief minister rotation system was halted just as UMNO was holding the post. Thus the 2004 general elections saw widespread disillusionment, coupled with an ineffectual opposition. The state assembly is now dominated by the ruling party BN with only one seat held by an opposition politician who is an independent candidate. This was caused by a general sentiment where a number of voters were reluctant to cast votes for BN whose victory was almost assured but did not trust the opposition parties, most of which were not vigorously active before the election. Therefore many cast votes for independent candidates.

Sabah politics, as are Malaysia's, is very much based upon party lines. An effort by PBS, a component party of BN, to hatch a co-operation with the one opposition candidate within the state assembly, who conversely was a former UMNO member competing independently because he was not nominated for the constituency by his party, in an unprecedented attempt at bipartisanship, was harshly criticized by UPKO, another component party of BN.

Chief Ministers of Sabah

Year Chief Minister Party
1963-1964 Tun Fuad Stephens United National Kadazan Organization (UNKO)
1965-1967 Datuk Peter Lo Sui Yin Sabah Chinese Association (SCA)
1967-1975 Tun Mustapha Datu Harun United Sabah National Organization (USNO) - BN
1975-1976 Tun Said Keruak USNO - BN
1976 (44 days) Tun Fuad Stephens Berjaya - BN
1976-1985 Datuk Harris Mohd Salleh Berjaya - BN
1985-1994 Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan PBS - Opposition (In partnership with BN in 1986-1990)
1994-1995 Tun Sakaran Dandai UMNO - BN
1995-1996 Datuk Salleh Tun Said Keruak UMNO - BN
1996-1998 Datuk Yong Teck Lee SAPP - BN
1998-1999 Tan Sri Bernard Dompok (now UPKO) Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS) - BN
1999-2001 Datuk Seri Osu Haji Sukam UMNO - BN
2001-2003 Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat LDP - BN
2003-present Datuk Seri Musa Aman UMNO - BN

Administrative divisions

Sabah consists of five administrative divisions, which are in turn divided into 24 districts.

These administrative divisions are, for all purposes, just for reference. During the British rule until the transition period when Malaysia was formed, a Resident was appointed to govern each division and provided with a palace (Istana). This means that the British considered each of these divisions equivalent to a Malayan state. The post of the Resident was abolished in favour of district officers for each of the district.

Division Name Districts Area (km²) Population (2006)[16]
1 West Coast Division Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Penampang, Putatan, Ranau, Tuaran 7,588 953,900
2 Interior Division Beaufort, Nabawan, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Tambunan, Tenom 18,298 420,800
3 Kudat Division Kota Marudu, Kudat, Pitas 4,623 189,500
4 Sandakan Division Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tongod 28,205 676,000
5 Tawau Division Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau 14,905 756,800

Local Government

As in the rest of Malaysia, local government comes under the purview of state governments. However, ever since the suspension of local government elections in the midst of the Malaysian Emergency, which was much less intense in Sabah than it was in the rest of the country, there have been no local elections. Local authorities have their officials appointed by the executive council of the state government.


The population of Sabah was 2,449,389 in 2000[17] and was the third most populous state in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor. It is estimated that Sabah's population has exceeded that of Johor with an estimated population of 3,400,000 in 2007.[18] Sabah indeed has one of the highest population growth rates in the country as a result of illegal imigration from the Muslim-dominated southern provinces of Philippines.

Ethnicities and religion

Statistics of religion by state are not provided by the Department of Statistics Malaysia. Sabah has one of the highest populations of Christians (Roman Catholic and Protestant) living in Malaysia. Religious breakdown (2000): Islam 63.7%, Christianity 27.8%, Buddhism 12%, No Religion 1.0%, Taoism/Confucianism 0.4%, Others 0.3%, Hinduism 0.1%, Unknown 0.3%.[5]

The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially recognised ethnic groups. The largest immigrant ethnic group is the Chinese. Most Chinese people in Sabah are concentrated primarily at Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Tawau. Kota Kinabalu has the highest concentration of Chinese people in Sabah, followed by Sandakan (second highest) and Tawau (third highest). The largest indigenous ethnic group is Kadazan-Dusun, followed by Bajau, and Murut. There is a very small number and proportion of Indians and other South Asians in Sabah compared to other parts of Malaysia. Cocos people is a minority ethnic residing in Sabah especially at the Tawau Division. Collectively, all persons coming from Sabah are known as Sabahans and identify themselves as such.

Malay(Bahasa Melayu) is the national language spoken across ethnicities, although the spoken Sabahan dialect of Malay differs much in inflection and intonation from the West Malaysian version, having more similarity in pronunciation to Indonesian. English, Mandarin as well as Hakka and Cantonese are widely understood. In addition, Kadazan-Dusun, Bajau, Murut and other smaller groups also have distinct ethnic languages. Sabah also has its own unique slang for many words in Malay.

The federal government of Malaysia officially recognizes 28 ethnic groups as being indigenous or bumiputra in Sabah:

Other inhabitants:


Sabah's economy was traditionally heavily dependent on lumber based on export of tropical timber, but with increasing depletion at an alarming rate of the natural forests, ecological efforts to save the remaining natural rainforest areas were done in early 1982 through forest conservation methods by collecting seeds of different species particularly acacia mangium and planting it to pilot project areas pioneered by the Sandakan Forest Research Institute researchers, however, palm oil has emerged as a choice of farmers to plant as a cash crop. Other agricultural products important in the Sabah economy include rubber and cacao. Tourism is currently the second largest contributor to the economy. There are other exports like seafood and vegetables.

In 1970, Sabah ranked as one of the richest states in the federation, with a per capita GDP second only to Selangor (which then included Kuala Lumpur).[20] However, despite its vast wealth of natural resources, Sabah is currently the poorest of Malaysia's states. Average incomes are now among the lowest in Malaysia, and with a considerably higher cost of living than in West Malaysia. In 2000 Sabah had an unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent, the highest of any Malaysian state and almost twice the national average of 3.1 per cent. The state has the highest poverty level in the country at 16 per cent, more than three times the national average. Due to the lack of industry that can provide jobs for professional and highly skilled workforce, large numbers of Sabahan's have literally migrated or practically moved out to either to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and USA. Part of the problem is the inequitable distribution of wealth between state and federal governments, and large numbers of illegal immigrants from Indonesia, the Philippines, even from China and East Timor, whose population was estimated to be in the region of half a million people. Due to huge tracks of land that has been cultivated with palm oil, the industry is not fully mechanized and it is highly dependent towards immigrants with work pass and illegals. In 2004 the poverty level worsened to 22 per cent.[21] However the state government with the assistance from the Federal government and active participation of UN and the governments where the the illegal immigrants originated, steps has been taken and slowly Sabah is overcoming the crises.

The recent tabling of the Ninth Malaysia Plan has allocated RM16.908 billion for Sabah, the second highest state allocation after Sarawak's but it is still only 8% of the total national budget for a population of Sabah of more than 13%, and an area of more than 25%. This is clearly discriminatory and has contributed to the State of Sabah having the largest number of people below the poverty line in Malaysia, and lower than the Indonesian national poverty rate and in the same level as Aceh and Myanmar based on 2004 United Nations figures.[21][22][23][24]

The fund is pledged to improve the state's rural areas, improve the state's transportation and utilities infrastructures, and boost the economy of Sabah. The government has placed its focus on three major areas of the economy which have the potential to be Sabah's growth engine. These are agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

When this discriminatory budget against Sabah and Sarawak was pointed out, the allocation for Sabah was increased from the earlier figure of 15.7 billion RM while there is none for Sarawak. The reason given to Sarawak's Chief Minister, as reported by Borneo Post (11 November 2007) is that it is not economical to develop Sarawak. Sarawak is to be the source of renewable resources for Malaya. This situation applies to Sabah as well except that Sarawak's renewable resources are not even meant for Sabah. The percentage of the total budget is still much less than Sabah's population and area burdens.

Urban centers and ports

There are currently 7 ports in Sabah: Kota Kinabalu Port, Sepanggar Bay Container Port, Sandakan Port, Tawau Port, Kudat Port, Kunak Port, and Lahad Datu Port. These ports are operated and maintained by Sabah Ports Authority.[25] The major towns and city are:

Kota Kinabalu City
Sandakan City
Rank City Population[26]
1 Kota Kinabalu 532,129
2 Sandakan 448,074
3 Tawau 349,962
4 Lahad Datu 119,938
5 Keningau 97,152
6 Semporna 71,157
7 Kudat 34,481


Tourism, particularly eco-tourism, is a major contributor to the economy of Sabah. In 2006, 2,000,000 tourists visited Sabah[27] and it is estimated that the number will continue to rise following vigorous promotional activities by the state and national tourism boards and also increased stability and security in the region. Sabah currently has six national parks. One of these, the Kinabalu National Park, was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000. It is the first[28] of two sites in Malaysia to obtain this status, the other being the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. These parks are maintained and controlled by Sabah Parks under the Parks Enactment 1984. The Sabah Wildlife Department also has conservation, utilization, and management responsibilities.[29]

National Parks

Notable Sabahans

Politics and governance

Mat Salleh was a Suluk-Bajau who led a rebellion against British North Borneo Company administration in North Borneo. Under his leadership, the rebellion which lasted from 1894 to 1900 razed the British Administration Centre on Pulau Gaya and exercised control over Menggatal, Inanam, Ranau and Tambunan. The rebellion was by Bajaus, Dusuns and Muruts.[2]

Another notable Sabahan is Donald Stephens who helped form the state of Sabah under the UN appointed Cobbold commission. He was an initial opponent of Malaysia but was persuaded by Lee Kuan Yew with an offer of 8 university places for Sabahan students at the University of Malaya, Singapore[citation needed].

Donald Stephens was the first Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazan-dusun and Murut people.

Tun Datu Mustapha was a Suluk-Kagayan Muslim political leader in Sabah through the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) party.[6] He was a vocal supporter of Malaysia but fell out of favor with Malayan leaders despite forming UMNO branches in Saba and deregistering USNO. Efforts to reregister USNO have not been allowed, unlike UMNO that was allowed to be reregistered under the same name.[30][citation needed]

Former Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan is the current Huguan Siou and the President of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). Pairin, the longest serving chief minister of the state and one of the first Kadazandusun lawyers, was known for his defiance of the federal government in the 1980s and 90s in promoting the rights of Sabah and speaking out against the illegal immigration problems. Sabah was at the time one of only two states with opposition governments in power, the other being Kelantan. PBS has since rejoined BN and Datuk Pairin is currently the Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah.

The 8th and current Attorney General of Malaysia, Abdul Gani Patail, comes from Sabah.

In 2006, Penampang-born Richard Malanjum was appointed Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and became the first Kadazandusun to hold such a post.

Datuk Hj. Railey bin Hj. Jeffery was the first and well-known Cocos political leader. He was the Deputy Information Minister and the JKR Deputy Minister in the 1990s.


Sabah has produced a fair number of well-known media figures. With the advent of Satellite TV in Malaysia, Sabah produced more breakthrough artist compared to 4 decades before.

  • Movies & TV: Tony Francis Gitom (filmmaker), Daphne Iking (NTV7 host), Farid Amirul Hisham (actor : 'Gerak Khas', Lim), Kamaruddin Mape (TV3 Newscaster), Farish Aziz (Astro TV host), actress Fung Bo Bo & Chung Shuk Wai
  • Radio Disc Jockey: Maryanne Raymond(Mary), Constantine Anthony(Constantine), Shahrizan Ferouz(The Shaz), Fadhil bin Luqman(Fad Da Dillio); all from TraXX FM. DJ Johnboy Lee of, DJ Othoe of Suria FM
  • Musicians & Composers: Guitarist Roger Wang, Composer Julfekar and Asmin Mudin
  • Singers: Nazrey Johani of Raihan, Azharina Azhar, Peter Dicky Lee, Pete Teo, Jerome Kugan, Mia Palencia, Yan Qing, Gary Cao
  • Band & Groups: JIAJA , E-Voke, One Nation Emcees, B.A.D. Boys, Lotter & Divine Masters, Richael Gimbang with Estranged
  • Highly Acclaimed International Furniture Designer: TL Bong
  • Internet Star: Abangben & Moonboy (Melbourne Shuffle)


Matlan Marjan is a former football player for Malaysia. He scored two goals against England in an international friendly on June 12, 1991. The English team included Stuart Pearce, David Batty, David Platt, Nigel Clough, Gary Lineker, was captained by Bryan Robson and coached by Bobby Robson.[31] No other Malaysian player managed to achieve this.[citation needed] In 1995, he along with six other Sabah players, were arrested on suspicion of match-fixing. Although the charges were dropped, he was prevented from playing professional football and was banished to another district.[32][33] He was punished under the Internal Security Act (which allows for indefinite detention without any trial, despite being proven innocent, and even on non-security related issues).[citation needed]


Arts and entertainment

Reality TV

Sabahan contestants attained many finalist spots and even won major reality TV show contests. This phenomenon is probably due to many hidden Sabahan talents finally uncovered through Reality TV.

  • One in a Million: Ayu (OIAM2 winner), Esther (1st runner-up OIAM3)
  • Akademi Fantasia finalist: Norlinda Nanuwil & Adam from AF2, Felix Agus & Marsha Milan Londoh from AF3, Velvet & Lotter from AF4, Candy & Ebi from AF5, Stacy the AF6/1st Sabahan/2nd female champion
  • Gang Starz: E-Voke (season 1 semi-finalist), One Nation Emcees (season 2 winner)
  • Blast-Off: Jiaja (season 2 winner)
  • Mentor: Pija (winner season 1), Fiq (winner season 2), Chaq (finalist season 3)
  • Raja Lawak: Kechik (winner season 4), Alex (3rd place season 4)
  • Reality TV stars (non-finalist): Nikki Palikat (Malaysian Idol), Mas (AF2), Yazer (AF3), Nora (AF4), Farha (AF5), Noni (AF5), Rubisa (AF7), Zizi (AF7), AB (OIAM2), Mark Malim (OIAM2), Shone (OIAM2)

Movies & TV

The earliest known footage of Sabah comes from two movies by Martin and Osa Johnson titled 'Jungle Depths of Borneo' and 'Borneo'.

Sabah's first homegrown film was Orang Kita, starring Abu Bakar Ellah.

Some films and TV shows filmed in Sabah include the first season of reality show Survivor, The Amazing Race, Eco-Challenge Borneo, films Bat*21, as well as a number of Hong Kong production films such as Born Rich. Sabah was also featured in Sacred Planet, a documentary hosted by Robert Redford.


There are many types of traditional dances in Sabah, most notably:

  • Daling-daling: Danced by Suluks and Bajaus. In its original form, it was a dance which combined Arabic belly dancing and the Indian dances common in this region, complete with long artificial finger nails and golden head gear accompanied by a Suluk song called daling-daling which is a love story. Its main characteristic is the large hip and breast swings but nowadays it is danced with a faster tempo but less swings, called Igal-igal.
  • Sumazau: Kadazandusun traditional dance which performed during weddings and Kaamatan festival. The dance form is akin to a couple of birds flying together.
  • Magunatip: Famously known as the Bamboo dance, requires highly skilled dancers to perform. Native dance of the Muruts, but can also be found in different forms and names in South East Asia.


Sabah's first established newspaper was the New Sabah Times. The newspaper was founded by Tun Fuad Stephens, who later became the first Chief Minister of Sabah.

American author Agnes Newton Keith lived in Sandakan between 1934-1952 and wrote several books about Sabah. Sabah was also the main location for the filming of the 1937 American documentary based on the adventures of Martin and Osa Johnson titled Borneo.

In the Earl Mac Rauch novelization of Buckaroo Banzai (Pocket Books, 1984; repr. 2001), and in the DVD commentary, Buckaroo's archenemy Hanoi Xan is said to have his secret base in Sabah, in a "relic city of caves."


  • Bowen, M. R., and T. V. Eusebio. 1982. Acacia mangium: updated information on seed collection and handling and germination testing. Seed Series No. 5. FAO/UNDP-MAL/78/009. Forest Research Centre, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
  • Gudgeon, L. W. W. 1913. British North Borneo. Adam and Charles Black, London.
  • Chin, Ung-Ho. 1999. 'Kataks', Kadazan-Dusun Nationalism and Development: The 1999 Sabah State Election (Regime Change And Regime Maintenance In Asia And The Pacific Series No 24, Department Of Political And Social Change, Research School Of Pacific And Asian Studies, Australian National University) (ISBN 0-7315-2678-3)
  • Urmenyhazi, Attila (2007) DISCOVERING NORTH BORNEO, a travelogue on Sarawak & Sabah by the author-graphic designer-publisher, National Library of Australia, Canberra, Record ID: 4272798.
  • James Chin. Politics of Federal Intervention in Malaysia, with reference to Kelantan, Sarawak and Sabah, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 35, No 2 (July) 1997 , pp 96-120
  • James Chin. Going East: UMNO’s entry into Sabah Politics, Asian Journal of Political Science, Vol 7, No 1 (June) 1999, pp. 20-40


  1. ^ Palawan Tourism Council: History of Palawan at the Internet Archive. Accessed August 27, 2008.
  2. ^ a b C.Buckley: A School History of Sabah, London, Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1968
  3. ^ Regina Lim; Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (2008), Federal-state relations in Sabah, Malaysia: the Berjaya administration, 1976-85, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 29, ISBN 9789812308122, 
  4. ^ a b "Sabah's Heritage: A Brief Introduction to Sabah's History", Muzium Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. 1992
  5. ^ "Panglima Alli tak takut dibunuh tentera Jepun" (in Malay). Berita Harian. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  6. ^ a b Johan M. Padasian: Sabah History in pictures (1881-1981), Sabah State Government, 1981
  7. ^ Ramlah binti Adam, Abdul Hakim bin Samuri, Muslimin bin Fadzil: "Sejarah Tingkatan 3, Buku teks", published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (2005)
  8. ^ [1], The Deed of Sabah Lease of 1878 Accessed March 1, 2008.
  9. ^ Protocol of 1885. Sabah Law. Extracted June 3, 2008
  10. ^ [2], Instrument of Cession of the Territory of North Borneo to the Republic of the Philippines. (7th "whereas" clause). Accessed March 1, 2008.
  11. ^ [3], Sabah Transfer of Sovereignty From the Sultanate of Sulu to the Republic of the Philippines. Accessed March 1, 2008.
  12. ^ [4], Come clean on Sabah, Sulu sultan urge gov't. Accessed March 1, 2008.
  13. ^ Kinabalu Park - Justification for inscription, UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Accessed June 24, 2007.
  14. ^ About the Kinabatangan area, WWF. Accessed August 4, 2007.
  15. ^ Senarai ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Sabah, Accessed August 4, 2007.
  16. ^ "Monthly Statistical Bulletin, January 2007: Sabah", Department of Statistics Malaysia, Sabah.
  17. ^ "Housing Census of Malaysia, 2000", Department of Statistics, Malaysia
  18. ^ Malaysia: Administrative Divisions (population and area), World Gazetteer. Accessed August 4, 2007.
  19. ^ Languages of Malaysia (Sabah). Ethnologue. Retrieved on May 4, 2007
  20. ^ "Outline Perspective of Sabah", Institute for Development Studies (Sabah). URL accessed May 7, 2006
  21. ^ a b "UN Sabah Poverty Statistics, 2004". URL accessed January 13, 2008
  22. ^ "Indonesian Poverty Statistics, 2004". URL accessed January 13, 2008
  23. ^ UN World Poverty Statistics 2005". URL accessed January 13, 2008
  24. ^ "The Edge Daily". URL accessed January 13, 2008
  25. ^ Sabah Ports Authority
  26. ^ Malaysia: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population, World Gazetteer. August 4, 2007.
  27. ^ Sabah: Visitors Arrival by Nationality 2006, Sabah Tourism Board. Accessed August 4, 2007.
  28. ^ "Kinabalu Park". Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  29. ^ "About Sabah Wildlife Department". Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  30. ^ "M.G.G. Pillai". URL last accessed on January 13, 2008
  31. ^ EnglandFC Match Data
  32. ^ "No charges against Sabah six". Bernama. 1995-07-14. 
  33. ^ "Four Sabah soccer players banished to remote area". Bernama. 1995-10-04. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Map of Sabah in Malaysia
Map of Sabah in Malaysia

Sabah [1] is a state in Malaysia. Together with Sarawak to the southwest, the two states form the Malaysian portion of Borneo.


Sabah is divided into divisions, a legacy of the British North Borneo days. The divisions are in turn divided into districts. The divisions are:

  • Kudat Division located in the north of Sabah with Kudat as the main town,
  • West Coast Division along the west of Sabah where Kota Kinabalu is located,
  • Interior Division located in the south-west of Sabah, with Keningau and Tenom being its largest towns,
  • Sandakan Division in the east, with Sandakan town as its largest town, and
  • Tawau Division in the south-east of Sabah, with Tawau, Lahad Datu and Semporna as its largest cities.
  • Labuan is a group of offshore islands with federal territory status.
  • Kota Kinabalu - capital city of Sabah and the largest city in East Malaysia.
  • Lahad Datu - a town located on the east coast.
  • Sandakan - a town located in the east of Sabah and was formerly the capital of Sabah prior to WWII.
  • Semporna - a town located on the east coast, main hopping off points to the dive islands
  • Tawau - major town located at the southeast corner of the state, entry point from Indonesia
  • Tenom - main city in the interior of the state
  • Sipadan - one of the world's best dive spots with lots of large pelagic species (sea turtles, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays).
  • Lampaki
  • Layang Layang - an island off the west coast that offers spectacular diving.
  • Mabul - one of the world's best muck diving locations
  • Mataking



Sabah, which was known as North Borneo before it joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963, was part of the Sultanate of Brunei in the 16th century while the north-eastern coast of the state became part of the Sultanate of Sulu which was centered in the southern islands of the Philippines. The the mid 18th century, Europeans began making an appearance and the British managed to open a trading post on Pulau Balambangan off the northern tip of Sabah. This post however failed to take off.

In 1865, the American Consul for Brunei, Claude Lee Moses obtained a lease over North Borneo. The lease ownership was passed to an American company which tried to set up a post in what is today Kimanis. That also turned out to be a failure and was abandoned. The lease was then sold to Baron von Overbeck, the Austrian Consul in Hong Kong which he then transferred to Alfred Dent who in 1882 formed the British North Borneo Company to develop the colony. The capital was first established in Kudat, then transfered to Sandakan. North Borneo became a protectorate of Great Britain in 1888 but administration and control over the colony remained in the hands of the Company ruled until 1942 when the Japanese invaded. There were of course resistance to the company's rule, including by Mat Salleh in the late 1890s and the Muruts in the early 1900s.

The Japanese occupation between 1942 and 1945 was brutal and this was when the infamous Death Marches by British and Allied soldiers forced by the Japanese took place. British Military Administration took over when the Japanese surrendered and in 1946, North Borneo became a British Crown Colony. Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu), which suffered Allied bombing, was rebuilt and chosen to replace Sandakan as the capital.

On September 16, 1963, North Borneo together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore formed the Federation of Malaysia and from then on it became known as Sabah.


Sabah is one of the most culturally diverse states in Malaysia. Its population of about 2.5 million is a mix of native groups (who are usually divided into Muslim and non-Muslim groups), Chinese, and other smaller ethnic groups such as Indians and Eurasians. The main native groups are the Kadazandusun, Murut, Bajau, Suluk, Bisaya and Orang Sungai. Most of the Chinese who migrated to the state during the British era, belong to the Hakka dialect group although there are also large numbers of Cantonese especially in Sandakan. There are also many Filipinos and Indonesians, many of whom entered Sabah illegally and later became naturalised under a controversial state policy.

The most important festival among the non-Muslim native groups of Sabah is Kaamatan or Harvest Festival. This usually takes place in May and the last two days of the month are public holidays in the state. The most popular event is the unduk ngadau or Harvest Queen in Kadazan, where girls throughout the state compete for the crown. A lot of drinking and general merry-making accompanies the festival.


Most people in Sabah understand English. Major Chinese dialects are spoken in urban areas.

Get in

Although part of Malaysia, Sabah is governed by its own immigration rules. They are basically the same as that of the rest of Malaysia except for the fact that Malaysians from the Peninsular Malaysia and neighbouring Sarawak are also subjected to some level of immigration control. See Malaysia | Get in for details.

By air

Kota Kinabalu International Airport [2] (IATA: BKI ICAO: WBKK) is now a major air hub for the Borneo states of Malaysia. The main airlines are Malaysia Airlines [3] and AirAsia [4] providing the main links with Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and as several regional destinations like Clark in Manila, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka and Macau. Other airlines which service Kota Kinabalu are Dragonair [5] (between KK and Hong Kong), Silkair [6] (Singapore), Royal Brunei Airlines [7] (Bandar Seri Begawan) and Asiana [8] (Seoul). Malaysia Airlines subsidiary MASWings [9] provides the rural air service links with several minor airports in Sarawak as well as within Sabah. The airport has two terminals - the main one for full fare flights, and a second terminal for budget carriers like AirAsia. For flight details and how to get to the airport terminals, see Kota Kinabalu's "Get in" section.

Tawau Airport (TWU) would also provide an alternative point of entry with AirAsia commencing flights to Singapore in September 2009.

By road

The only place where you can travel overland into Sabah is from Sarawak through the border crossing at Merapok near Lawas. Those who are not citizens of Sabah or Sarawak will have to go through immigration checks here. The road between Kota Kinabalu and the border is sealed all the way and in good condition. If you are planning to do the overland trail from Sarawak to Sabah, it is possible to get from Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei - or with a bit of a stretch, from Miri - to Kota Kinabalu within a day. See Kota Kinabalu to Brunei in a day for details.

There is no official land crossing with Indonesia, although there may be some informal tracks from the interior of Sabah which locals use to get to East Kalimantan.

By boat

You can enter Sabah by boat from the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan, Zamboanga in the southern Philippine, and from Nunukan in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. However, there are no passenger boat services between Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.

Get around

By air

Malaysia Airlines [10] and budget airlines AirAsia [11] link Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau several times a day.

MASWings [12], operates the rural air service, linking Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Tawau. Flights use Fokkers and turboprop aircraft. MASWings took over the rural air services network from FlyAsian Express on October 1, 2007, which in turn took the service over from Malaysia Airlines 14 months before that.

By road

Sabah's road network is not as developed as that in Peninsular Malaysia and there are large areas of the interior, such as the Kinabatangan River basin, which are not connected by road. The main road most useful to travellers are those running along the West Coast from the Sabah-Sarawak border at Sindumin through Sipitang, Beaufort and Papar to Kota Kinabalu (called Route A2) and northwards from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud and ending at Kudat near the northern tip of Sabah (Route A1). The main road into the West Coast interior runs from Kota Kinabalu to Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom.

The main road to the East Coast (Route A4) branches off Route A1 near Tuaran, about 30km north of Kota Kinabalu. It passes the foot of Mount Kinabalu and Ranau right through to Sandakan. The main road to Tawau and the southeastern parts of Sabah (Route A5) branches off from Route A4 about 55km west of Sandakan or 285km from Kota Kinabalu.

A road is being constructed from Keningau through the isolated Pensiangan and Kalabakan districts to Tawau at the southeastern corner of Sabah. Once completed, the road will enable those travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau to cut travelling time and distances significantly without needing to use the KK-Sandakan road.

By bus

Long distance express buses operate between major cities in Sabah. Most of these are air-conditioned and quite comfortable. There are also non-aircon stage buses running between towns which stop to pick-up and let down passengers along the way. They may be cheaper but take forever to get anywhere.

A lot of short-distance inter-town travel in Sabah is also done by minibuses and minivans. These are either small buses or vans which are converted to take in passeners. They charge the same fare as buses but carry fewer passengers. Most operate in the morning and will only leave when they are full. But once they get going, the journey can be quite fast. You can make long distance journeys with minibuses and minivans but you'll have to change along the way.

Due to repair work and an accident, the North Borneo Railway has temporarily halted operations until further notice.

The North Borneo Railway [13] is the only railway network on Borneo. The network is small (134km), linking Kota Kinabalu to Beaufort along the west coast, and then inland along the Padas River to Tenom, which is the more interesting and popular stretch for travellers. The trains are old and safety is always a concern, although work is in progress to upgrade the network. Service between Beaufort and Tenom was suspended in April 2008 after a derailment that killed two, and will only resume once a bypass has been built. See the respective city pages for train details.


Sabah can be said to be one of the best states in Malaysia when it comes to things to see and do. Its attractions range from the breath-taking natural wonders such as mountains, jungles, islands and flora and fauna, to the colourful cultures of its multi-ethnic inhabitants.

Most of the attractions have their own pages. The list below provides the links.

  • Mount Kinabalu - This has to be the top of the list as far as reasons for visiting Sabah go. The 4,095m mountain is the highest in Southeast Asia (outside Papua, which is regarded as part of Oceania), but is probably one of the easiest to climb as no mountaineering experience is needed, just a lot of stamina. The surrounding National Park is also home to many plants and animals.
  • Sipadan and the other islands - World-class diving, nothing more needs to be said.
  • Sepilok - The world-famouns Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary near Sandakan is home to orphaned or captured orang utans where they are slowly readapted to the jungle environment.
  • Turtle Islands Park - Three islands in the Sulu Sea off the coast of Sandakan where you can see turtle conservation at work.
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park - Coral islands just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
  • Poring Hot Springs - Soak in pools of natural hot water to cure your muscle aches after you assault on Mount Kinabalu
  • Danum Valley - See the tropical rain forest near Lahad Datu at its most prestine state.
  • Proboscis monkeys - You will be able to see them in the wild in the Sukau and Kinabatangan areas near Sandakan and the Klias Wetlands area.
  • Rafflesia flowers - The world's largest flowers, nearly 1m in diameter, can be seen in the Crocker Range.
  • Monsopiad Cultural Village - Located near Kota Kinabalu, it tells the story of Monsopiad, a warrior of the Kadazan ethnic group who lived some 300 years ago and slew 42 of his enemies. The skulls of these 42 are on exhibit in the Hall of Skulls.


Hand-in-hand with the many attractions, Sabah is also a place where you will not run out of things to do. You'll have a choice of mountain climbing, diving, white-water rafting and jungle trekking as well as many other more sedate activities.

  • Climbing Mount Kinabalu - This should be one of the highlights of your visit to Sabah. See Mount Kinabalu page.
  • Diving and snorkeling - You'll enjoy some of the best corals in the world. Locations include Sipadan and Mabul on the East Coast, and Layang Layang Island in the disputed Spratly group. Less hardcore and easier to get to are the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. You can dive with Borneo Dream located in KK (Kota Kinabalu). The website is:
  • White-water rafting - along two rivers, Padas and Kiulu. The Padas River, accessed from Beaufort boasts Grade Three to Four rapids.
  • Going into the jungle - many tour companies have itineraries which bring you into the interior of the state. Some popular places include jungle camps along the Kinabatangan River, and going into the isolated Batu Punggul area.
  • Ride on Sabah's Jungle Railway - Catch the slow train between Beaufort and Tenom which runs along the fast-flowing Padas River.


Sabah is notorious for being a difficult region to get round independently, in terms of cost, reliable transport and obtaining permits for the various national parks. It is best to find yourself a guide. You can do this through various tour operators such as Borneo Eco Tours[14] , Borneo Wildlife Adventure[15] , Malaysia Travel Plan [16] , and Wildlife Expeditions[17] If however you’re on a ‘backpackers budget’ you can find good reliable freelance guides at Sabah’s Tourism Board[18] , whose price can be considerably lower than a fixed package.


Soto ayam, roasted chicken wings, soto makassar.


Lime juice, mango juice, and other fresh fruit juices. Chinese Tea

Stay safe

Most towns of Sabah are generally safe, but the general rule of not showing off your wealth openly in the public is advisable as pick-pocketing is a danger especially in poorer areas while robbery is rare. You can still shop safely around the towns and cities.

  • By air from Kota Kinabalu airport to other parts of Malaysia or other countries in the region.
  • By boat via Labuan island to Brunei.
This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun




  1. A state in eastern Malaysia located at the Northern part of the Borneo island with the main city Kota Kinabalu as its capital.


Simple English

File:MtKinabalu view from
Mount Kinabalu view.

Sabah is a state in Malaysia that is located on the northeast portion of the island of Borneo. The capital city of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu.[1]


Other websites

States and Federal Territories of Malaysia
States: Johor | Kedah | Kelantan | Malacca | Negeri Sembilan | Pahang | Perak | Perlis | Penang | Sabah | Sarawak | Selangor | Terengganu
Federal Territories: Kuala Lumpur | Labuan | Putrajaya


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