From Wikipedia & Malaysiana1.
Sabah is located in the north-eastern portion of the island of Borneo. It is the second largest state in Malaysia after Sarawak which it borders on the south-west.
Sabah also borders Indonesia to the south. Its state capital is Kota Kinabalu (formerly Api-Api).
Other major towns include Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau.
Sabah is known as the Land Below The Wind, as it is situated below the typhoon belt that covers the Philippines.
Sabah’s name is derived from the Arabic kingdom of Sheba which is now Yemen and which means Land Below The Wind.
Another theory goes that the state’s name is a corruption of Sama which is the Bajau indigenous community, the second largest indigenous community in the state.
Sabah was historically a Bajau kingdom ruled by the paramount chief of the Bajaus from the sub-tribe of Tausug or Sulu.
The chief was titled Sultan of Sabah and Sultan of Sulu. Sulu refers to the Sulu Islands which have been part of the Philippines since the 1900s.
The Bajau Sultan, who also ruled the islands of Mindanao, Palawan, Visayas, Luzon and Taiwan (until the Ming Dynasty), paid tribute to the Kedayan Sultan of Brunei, the overlord of the island of Borneo.
In 1761, Britain set up a trading post in Balambangan Island, Kudat. However, the Bajau monarch soon expelled the British from the island.
Balambangan was Britain’s first colonial outpost in Southeast Asia.
The United States acquired Sabah from Brunei and the Bajau monarch, for a brief while in 1865. In 1881, Britain acquired Sabah.
From 1895 to 1900, the regent of Sabah, Datu Mat Salleh, led a revolt against British colonial rule. He was eventually murdered by his traitorous assistant.
On August 31, 1963, Sabah became independent from Britain. On September 16 that year, Sabah joined Malaysia as its 12th state.
Sabah’s first Governor and independence leader was Datu Mat Salleh’s grand nephew Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun, one of the heirs to the throne of Sabah and Sulu.
He also served as Sabah Chief Minister from 1967 to 1975 and was twice a Federal Cabinet Minister.
The Philippines has persistently staked a claim on Sabah, even though the claim is terribly flimsy as the Philippines originally comprised the island groups of Luzon and the Visayas, and not Palawan, Sulu and Mindanao.
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 1,000 to 4,000 metres.
At a height of 4,095 metres, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
Sabah’s rainforests are among the oldest in the world and are a wonderful source of biodiversity.
The Kinabalu National Park in Ranau, where the mountain is, was made a World Heritage Site in 2000.
Mount Trus Madi (2,642 metres) in Tambunan is the second highest mountain in the country. Mount Tambuyukon (2,579 metres) in Ranau is the third highest mountain in the country.
The 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 portions of Sabah have lower mountain ranges and plains.
The Kinabatangan River begins from the western ranges and snakes its way through the central region towards the east coast into the Sulu Sea.
It is the second longest river in Malaysia after Sarawak’s Rejang River and covers 560 km.
The river valley is the largest forest-covered floodplain in Malaysia.
Other important wildlife regions in Sabah include the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Tabin in Lahad Datu, and Sepilok in Sandakan.
These places are national parks and wildlife reserves.
Over three quarters of the population inhabits the coastal plains.
Major towns and urban centres have sprouted along the coasts of Sabah.
The interior region remains sparsely populated with remote villages.
Beyond the coasts of Sabah lie some small islands and coral reefs, including the largest island in Malaysia, Banggi Island in Kudat.
Other islands include Jambongan and Selingan in Sandakan, Balambangan in Kudat, Timbun Mata in Semporna, and Sebatik in Tawau.
Sipadan Island in Semporna is popular with divers, as is Gaya Island in Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah is divided into five administrative divisions namely Interior (Keningau), West Coast (Kota Kinabalu), Kudat, Sandakan and Tawau.
Indigenous people make up 80 per cent of Sabah’s population and dominate the political and economic system.
The largest community is the Kadazan-Dusun which forms 45 per cent of the state.
Three quarters Christian and a quarter Muslim, it has provided the state with three out of its 9 Governors since independence, and 4 out of its 13 Chief Ministers.
The Bajaus, historically the most powerful indigenous community, come second, at 18 per cent of the state.
The ancestors of the Philippine people, they are fully Muslim, and have provided the state with 3 out of its 9 Governors, and 4 out of its 13 Chief Ministers.
The Kedayans or Bruneians, the first Muslims of Sabah (the Kadazans were the second bunch of Muslims), form 10 per cent of the population and are fully Muslim.
They have provided the state with one Governor and one Chief Minister.
The Muruts, who are a quarter Muslim and three quarters Christian, form 7 per cent of the state and have provided it with one Governor and one Chief Minister (and the country with one Attorney-General).
The 20 per cent non-indigenous minority comprises the mainly Hakka and Hokkien Chinese, who dominate the professions, as in Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.
Timber, rubber, oil, cocoa, palm oil and tourism are Sabah’s major revenue earners.
Sabah’s major eco-tourism destinations include the Kinabalu National Park, Sandakan’s Turtle Islands Park, Kota Kinabalu’s Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (Gaya Island) and the Tawau Hills Park.
Others include Ranau’s Poring Hot Springs, Kota Kinabalu’s Tanjung Aru Beach, Sandakan’s Gomantong Caves (a major swift sanctuary), Sandakan’s Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, and Kudat’s Tanjung Simpang Mengayau (Borneo’s northernmost tip).
Notable Sabahans include the following.
Malaysian Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail who is of Murut ancestry.
High Court judge Datuk Richard Malanjum of Tuaran who is Kadazan-Dusun.
Film-makers Tony Francis Gitom (Kadazan-Dusun) and Deddy M. Borhan (Bajau).
Composers Asmin Mudin and Ambrose Mudi or Atama (Kadazan-Dusun).
Television presenters Shanna Avril and Daphne Iking (Kadazan-Dusun).
Reality show and talent contest graduates Adam Mat Saman (Kadazan-Dusun), Nicolette Palikat (Kadazan-Dusun), Norashikin Rahman (Kedayan), Norafizah Yasin (Bajau), Linda Nanuwil (Kadazan-Dusun) and Marsha Londoh (Kadazan-Dusun).