SABAH - is the second largest
state in Malayisa, it is situated at the northern part of the Island of
Borneo, the third largest island in the world. It covers area 72 500 sq
kilometers with a coastline of 14 400 kilometers long washed by the
South China Sea in the west, the Sulu Sea in the northeast and the
Celebes Sea in the east.
The Kota Kinabalu City is
the capital of SABAH, set between lush, tropical hills and fronting
emerald green waters-vibrant and exciting yet serene and uplifting, what
with its eco-treasures from top to bottom. Formerly known as Jesselton
before it's name was changed in 1986 to Kota Kinabalu, the states
capital is also affectionally called KK by locals. Known as 'The Land
Below The Wind' because geographically, it is below the typhoon belt.
The three million population of SABAH is as diverse as its ecology.
Comprising of a colourful mix of 32 ethnic group and other
non-indigenous people - they are all interwoven by culture, tradition,
marriage and language. The result is the face and dialect unmistakably
The largets ethnic group
is the Kadazandusun, making up 1/3 of the total population, they can be
found on the west coast, to the interior. Formerly the main
rice-producer of the states, the Kadazandusun are now the major force in
SABAH's rapid progress towards urban modernisation.
The Bajau were originally
the seafarers of Borneo. Many still reside along the coastline with
fishing being a major occupation. Their riding skills on ponies have
earn these Bajau nickname 'Cowboy Of The East' and their colourful
costumes (as well of their ponies) are greatly admired. The Murut reside
mainly in the hinterland, with many still occupying the traditional long
house. Once feared of their Headhunting, the Muruts now, mainly use
their Blowpipes and Darts for hunting food and ceremonial occasion.
The highlight of all
ethnic community festival is the Harvest Festival held in may.
Traditionally, it is a ceremony to give thanks to the rice-spirit for a
bountiful harvest and to ensure the same of the next season.
Gong-beating competition, unduk ngadau (Harvest Queen), buffalo-races
and other traditional sports, the appearance of the 'Bobohizan' or the
'Hight Priestess', are all part of the interesting festival. The
majority of the ethnic communities in SABAH are either Muslim or
Christian bye choice. Hence, in additional to their traditional
celebration, the respective communities also celebrate Hari Raya Puasa,
Hari Raya Haji, Awal Muharram, Good Friday and Christmas.
The Chinese who migrated
in great numbers to SABAH during the early years of the North Borneo
Chatered Company era, make up large portion of non-indigenous people.
Living mostly in and around city areas, they engaged themselves
primarily in the commercial sectors of the economy.
The Chinese has adapted
themselves well in SABAH with many of their traditional beliefs and
celebration such as Wesak Day and Chinese New Year, are still being
observed and celebrated in SABAH, not only the Chinese alone but the
community as one.
SABAH's wide variety of
attractions, the physical beauty of the island, the year-round pleasant
climate and the friendly people make SABAH a place regarded by many
visitors as the "BORNEOS'S
As early as the 9th century AD., Sabah,
then under various chieftains traded with China and later the Spanish
and the Portuguese. During the 15th century, Sabah was a
vassal of the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the
land east of Murudu Bay to the Sultan of Sulu. In the early 1880’s,
Moses, an American trader, obtained a lease over Sabah from Brunei. The
lease eventually passed to Alfred Dent, an Englishman. In 1881, he
signed a treaty with Brunei and Sulu, converting the lease into a
Thus the British North Borneo (Sabah old name) was
born. It was administered by the Chartered Company of British North
Borneo until the Japanese occupation. In 1945, after World War II, Sabah
became a British Crown Colony. In 1963, it gained independence and
joined Malaysia. Today Sabah is an integral part of Malaysia.
With a population of about 2 million, comprising of
over 30 different races speaking over 80 local dialects, it offers a
diverse and multicultural experience. The three main indigenous groups
of Sabah are the Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, and Bajau.
The largest, the Kadazan-Dusun, make up about a third of the population.
These are the prosperous rice producers of Sabah, although in recent
times many have ventured into other trades. Living in the interior
plains they are well known for their unique customs that feature female
priestesses called ‘bobohizan’ presiding over still practiced ancient
Skilled fishermen as well as rice farmers they are also experts in
rearing ponies and water buffaloes. The Bajaus live mainly on the east
and west coasts. East coast Bajaus are sea nomads, coming ashore only to
bury their dead. The West-coast Bajaus are farmers and being dubbed as
‘The cowboys of the East’, they are renowned for their horsemanship.
Being agriculturists and hunters, they live in the interior region near
the borders of Sarawak and Kalimantan. Once feared for their head
hunting, the Muruts are great hunters with spears, blowpipes and
poisoned darts. Many still reside in their traditional communal
longhouses and they are well known for their elaborate displays of
bride-wealth, dancing and feasting.
HOW TO GET
|Kota Kinabalu, the state capital, is the
modern gateway to the rest of Sabah. Direct flights between KK (the name
by which Kota Kinabalu is fondly called) and the regional capitals of
Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Kaoshiung, Hong Kong,
Brunei, Manila and Cebu, make Sabah easily accessible to travellers
Largely destroyed during the Second World
War, KK has since developed into a thriving modern city. Places of
interest include the State Museum, the State Mosque, the Gaya Street
Fair held every Sunday morning and the "pasar malam" where you can
polish up your bargaining skills. Nearby are the popular Tanjung Aru
Beach, quaint water villages and idyllic off-shore islands.
KK and its surroundings are well served
by world class holiday resorts and hotels for a relaxing private retreat
or large business conference.
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