,the second largest state in Malaysia, is situated at the
northern part of the island of Borneo, the third largest island in the
world. It covers an area of 72,500 sq. kilometres with a coastline of
1,440 kilometres long washed by the South China Sea in the West, the
Sulu Sea in the Northeast and the Celebes Sea in the East. Known to the
world as "THE LAND BELOW THE WIND", Sabah is rich not only in natural
beauty and resources, but also in the cultural heritage of its people.
Flora and Fauna
Sabah is a botanical paradise. The world's largest flower, Rafflesia
whose huge red bloom can grow up to a metre in diameter, is found in
Sabah. Many species of orchids, pitcher plants and rhododendrons are
endemic to Sabah.
Sabah is also a rugged country. The
mountainous terrain are intersected by many rivers which flow through
valleys across fertile plains. The jungles and forests are interlaced
with numerous caves and there is the majestic Kinabalu, the highest
mountain in Southeast Asia towering 4,101 metres.
The lush greenery provides home for
wildlife such as the Sumatran Rhinoceros, Orang-Utan, Elephant,
Mousedeer, Monkey, Flying Squirrel, Barking deer and birds.
Sabah's People and History
Sabah is also endowed with a heterogenous
population. The indigenous population are made up of some 30 groups
using more than 50 indigenous languages and not less than 80 dialects.
The main ethnic groups are: the Dusun/Kadazan - the largest group who
make up nearly one third of the population, the Murut, the Paitan and
the Bajau. Other indigenous groups include the Bonggi, the Iranun, the
Ida'an and the Brunei. In addition, the Chinese make up the main
nonindigenous group. Therefore, the people of Sabah are varied in their
respective cultural backgrounds.
Based on archaeological findings, Sabah was inhabited by people from as
early as 28,000 years ago. Islam came to Sabah towards the end of the 15
and 16 centuries Ihrough the Arab and Indian traders and also as a
result of the expansion of the Brunei Malay Sultanate.
It was another two centuries more before the Europeans came to Sabah. In
1775, the British East-India Company opened a trading base in
Balembangan Island. However, it was the British North Borneo Chartered
Company who effectively ruled Sabah from 1881 until 1942 when the
Japanese occupied the state. After the devastation of the War, Sabah
became a British Crown Colony until 31 August 1963 when it obtained
self-government from the British. On 16 September 1963, Sabah together
with Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya joined the Federation of Malaysia.