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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 SABAH.

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

  History 

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 cession.

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.

  People & Culture 

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.

Kadazan-Dusun
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 rituals.

Bajaus
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.

Muruts
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 THERE 

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 everywhere.

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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