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Sabah is known as "the Land Below the Wind" because of its location, being just south of the typhoon-prone region around the Philippines.
Sabah's populace numbered 651,304 in 1970 and grew to 929,299 a decade later. But in the two decades following 1980, the state's population rose significantly by a staggering 1.5 million people, reaching 2,468,246 by 2000.[1] As of 2010, this number has grown further to 3.12 million, with foreigners making up a sizeable 27% or 889,799 of the population.[1]
Location of Sabah
Map of Sabah   (click image for larger view)
Sabah Sarawak Population Census (1970-2010)
Sabah Racial Breakdown 2010
Poverty in Sabah

Sabah is the 2nd largest of the 13 states of Malaysia after Sarawak, with an area of 76,115 square kilometers and an estimated population of 3,387,880 in 2007. The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as "Jesselton". Sabah is known as "the Land Below the Wind" because of its location, being just south of the typhoon-prone region around the Philippines.

2.  Geography: Located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo in East Malaysia, Sabah is bordered by Sarawak to its south-west, and the province of East Kalimantan, Indonesia in the south. Administratively, Sabah consists of 5 divisions, which are in turn divided into 24 districts:

  1. West Coast Division: Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Penampang, Putatan, Ranau, Tuaran;
  2. Interior Division: Beaufort, Nabawan, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang, Tambunan, Tenom;
  3. Kudat Division: Kota Marudu, Kudat, Pitas;
  4. Sandakan Division: Beluran, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Tongod;
  5. Tawau Division: Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau.

3.  Demography: The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially recognized ethnic groups:

  • 17.8% Kadazan-Dusuns (traditionally farmers, the Kadazans traditionally live on the plains, whereas the Dusuns live in the hilly areas);
  • 13.4% Bajaus (traditionally sea-gypsies);
  • 11.5% Malays;
  • 3.3% Muruts (traditionally hunters);
  • 14.6% other bumiputeras, including Ilanuns (traditionally pirates);
  • 9.6% Chinese;
  • 4.8% other non-bumiputras; and
  • 25% non-Malaysian citizens.

4.  History: Sabah, then known as "North Borneo", was part of the Sultanate of Brunei around the early 16th century. In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the northeast portion of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu in compensation for the latter's help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate. Notwithstanding, he granted a 10-year lease over North Borneo to the American Consul of Brunei, Claude Lee Moses in 1865. Ownership changed hand several times and the rights were subsequently transferred to Alfred Dent who in 1882, formed the British North Borneo Company. In 1888, North Borneo became a protectorate of Great Britain, becoming a British Crown Colony in 1946 until September 1963, when North Borneo joined the Federation of Malaysia. From then on, it became known as Sabah. Inspite of its new status, Sabah remains a disputed territory and as of 2004, the Malaysian government is still paying US$1,500 per year (about RM6,300) as cession/rental money to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.[2]

5.  Economy: Sabah's economy was traditionally heavily lumber-dependent, but with increasing depletion and ecological efforts to save the remaining natural rainforest areas, palm oil has emerged as a more sustainable resource. Other agricultural products important to the Sabah economy include rubber and cacao. Tourism is currently the second largest contributor to the economy. However, despite its vast wealth of natural resources, Sabah is currently the poorest state in Malaysia, with a poverty rate of 19.7% in 2009-2010, an increase of 0.2% from 2007.[3] The national poverty rate is 3.8%, indicating that Sabah is 5 times poorer than the other states.[3] Part of the problem is the inequitable distribution of wealth between state and federal governments, and the large numbers of illegal immigrants from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste, whose population was estimated to be in the region of half a million people. The state government is currently focusing on three major areas of the economy, namely agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.

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