Sabah, the second largest state of
Malaysia, is located on the north-east tip of Borneo, 6 degrees North of
the equator. Its neighbours include its sister state of Sarawak, Brunei
Darussalam and Indonesian Kalimantan. Sabah has a 73,620 sq km land area
and the coastline stretches for 1,440 km.
Sabah's recent history can be traced to 600 AD when the Chinese
merchants first arrived on Borneo to trade. In return for spices and
birds nests, they exchanged porcelain and jars with the local
The British first arrived in Borneo in 1665. In 1773, the East India
Company started a settlement at Balembangan, near Kudat which burnt
down in 1775. In 1847, Sir James Brooke, White Rajah of Sarawak, became
the first Governor of Lacuna and Her Majesty's Consul-General in
In 1877, part of North Borneo was ceded by the Sultan of Sulu (who had
been granted the area by the Sultan of Brunei as a thank you for helping
defend his territory in what is now know as the Philippines, from the
Spanish) to the British North Borneo Chartered Company. British North Borneo would
eventually become know as Sabah. In 1888 British North Borneo became a
British protectorate. This lasted until the Japanese occupation from 1942-1945. In 1946, it became a British Crown Colony
and, in 1963, Sabah became part of Malaysia together with Sarawak and
Peninsula Malaya. The federal Malaysian government in KL
still pays the annual rent for Sabah to the present Sultan of Sulu.
Sabah is hot and humid, with little variation in temperature year round.
In the lowlands, temperatures range from 23 to 33 degrees Celsius. In
the hilly regions, the temperatures vary from 13 to 24 degrees Celsius.
The rainfall average is around 2,000 mm per annum.
The main airports in Sabah are in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, and
Lahad Datu. There is a railway line between Kota Kinabalu and Tenom that
runs through Beaufort. In addition, there are numerous tar-sealed roads
that run through Sabah.
Parks Crocker Range National Park
Originally gazetted to protect the water catchment area, the Crocker
Range National Park runs along the west coast of Sabah. The top of
Crocker Range rises up to 1676 m, and the park encompasses a full
139,919 ha. It is in Crocker Range that you will find the Rafflesia, the
largest flower in the world as well as countless species of orchids.
Undoubtedly Sabahs most famous park, this 75,370 ha park contains the
inspiring Mt. Kinabalu (in local folk-law, originally named Chinabalu). Rising to a
substantial 4,101 m., Mt. Kinabalu
is the second highest peak in South-East Asia (the highest is in
Indoneia's Irain Jaya). From the bottom at Timpohon
gate to Lows peak there are several different types of vegetation
which include the tropical rainforest, montane forest, cloud forest and
the sub-alpine. Flora and fauna are abundant in this area with over
1,000 species of orchid, 27 species of rhododendron, 9 species of
Nepethes, Rafflesia, 450 species of fern, 28 species of squirrel, and
more than 300 species of birds.
For those with no intention of climbing
the mountain, ther are numerous local walks at teh national park
accommodation areas. Relaxing hot springs can be found at Poring, 43 km from
the Parks headquarters with spectacular scenery, cold nights and
comfortable accommodation at Mesilau Resort. There are also many jungle trails to be
explored. The Kinabalu Park headquarters is less than 2 hours drive
from Kota Kinabalu.
Pulau Tiga Park
This 15,864 ha. park was gazetted in 1978 and includes the islands of
Pulau Tiga and Kalampunian Besar. Mud volcanoes and coral reefs teeming
with rich marine life are also found in this park.
Tawau Hills Park
Gazetted in 1979, the Tawau Hills Park covers the volcanic peaks and
water catchment area of Tawau. The 27,972 ha. park consists mainly of
lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.
Named after the Father of Malaysia, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park includes
five islands off the Kota Kinabalu coast. One of the islands, Gaya, was
formerly a settlement of British North Borneo in 1882. In 1897, however,
the settlement was burnt down by Mat Salleh, a local rebel leader. The
other islands in the park are Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Salug. Jungle
trails are found all across the island. Boat services are available
Selingan, Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan islands form the Turtle Island
Park. Gazetted in 1977, the islands play host to Green and Hawkbill
turtles every night throughout the year.
Selingan Island has 3 chalets which can accommodate a total of 28 people
and is an hours boat ride away from Sandakan.
Places of Interest0 km.
south of Sandakan, a 2-hour drive using a 4 Gomatong Caves lie 10 x 4. Witness the birds
nest harvest, which takes place 3 times a year.
is the place to go to experience the tamu. Every Sunday local
produce, handicrafts and animals, including the large buffalo, are
traded in this large weekend market. The route to Kota Belud takes you
73 km. from Kota Kinabalu on winding roads over the Crocker Range.
The financial, administrative, and political heart of Sabah is found in
Kota Kinabalu, on the west coast of Sabah on Tanjung Aru Beach. Places
of interest in Kota Kinabalu include Signal
Hill, Sabah Museum, State Mosque, Chinese Temple, Prince Philip Park,
the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Tanjung Aru Beach, Kampung Ayer,
the Sabah Foundation Building, Atkinson Clock Tower and the Sunday tamu
The original capital of Sabah, from 1881 to 1884 was Kudat. Inhabited by
the Rungus, longhouse dwelling folk, Kudat is also famous for its sandy
Kundasang in Sabah, is the centre for temperate vegetable farming. You
can also find a dairy farm, a war memorial and the Mt. Kinabalu Golf
The Bajau, a Muslim gypsy people who were once-feared pirates, inhabit
Mengkabong. This water village which features houses built on stilts, is
only a 30 minute drive from Kota Kinabalu.
Sandakan is a former capital of
Sabah and it also contains the largest seaport in the state. Outside the
city, Sandakan becomes a nature-lovers haven with the Orangutan
Rehabilitation Centre, Nature Education Centre, Forestry Museum,
crocodile farm, Proboscis Monkey reserve, orchid farm, log ponds, Gomatong Caves and the Turtle
Island Park all found a short distance away.
An old stone on a grassy plain marks Mat Sallehs last fort in
Tambunan. This is also the place to meet the Kandazan, one of the
indigenous groups of Sabah.
The hilly inland town of Tenom is inhabited mainly by the Murut, former
headhunters of Borneo. The main attractions in Tenom are the Tenom
Agricultural Park with it's magnificant displays, the Kemabong Murut villages, and the Kallang waterfalls.