LAND BENEATH THE WIND
By : OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP
HEAVEN.....A 'Tropical Paradise' rich in both natural beauty and resources. Simpang Mengayau in Kudat is one of beautiful heaven in Sabah.
SITUATED on the island of Borneo, Sabah is one ofthe 13 states that form the Federation of Malaysia. lt is one of two Malaysian states on the island, the other being Sarawa k. Together they form what is referred to as East Malaysia. Both states are separated from Peninsular Malaysia by the South China Sea.
Sabah is known as "The Land Below The Wind" because, geographically. it is situated below the typhoon and monsoon belt, just 6° north of the equator in the north-east of Borneo. The state's capital is Kota Kinabalu, which was known as jesselton until 1968. The state's second-Iargest city, Sandakan, was its capital until 1946.HISTORY:
Borneo has been inhabited for at least 40,000 years. The area where Sabah is now located is believed to have been settled by the Austronesians, who were probably originallyfrom Taiwan and arrived by way ofthe Philippines some 18,000-28,000 years ago.
These early communities lived in the caves on the eastern coast of the island. Sabah`s modern history is considered to have begun when Chinese merchants firstarrived on Borneo to trade with the indigenous people. This may have occurred as early as the sixth century.
Until the 16th century. Sabah, together with Brunei Darussalam and Sarawak, was part of the kingdom of Brunei, which had expanded its territory and influence as a result of its trade and diplomatic relations with the Chinese. In the early 15th centurythe Malacca Empire spread its influence and took over control of Bruneian trade. lt was through its traders that Islam began to spread to Brunei.WESTERN ARRIVALS:
The first Westerners to come to the area were the Portuguese and the Spanish. In 1521 the fleet ofthe famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan visited Brunei Darussalam and established the first recorded contact between Westerners and the people of Borneo. The Dutch arrived at the beginning ofthe 17th century and the British followed toward the middle of the century.
In 1704 the sultan of Brunei ceded the land to the east of Marudu Bay in the north-east of Borneo to the sultan of Sulu, as compensation for the latter's help in settling a decades-old civil war. ln 1761, a British officer, Alexander Dalrymple, established a trading post in northern Borneo, although this did not succeed.
British influence, however, grew steadily in the 19th century, particularly after the island of Labuan was transferred to Britain in 1846.BRITISH INFLUENCE:
On january 22, 1878, Baron von Overbeck, the Austrian consul in l-long Kong. who had been involved in previous trade dealings in the region, negotiated and obtained a lease from the sultan of Sulu on holdings around the north-eastern coast of Borneo. Financial difficulties led the baron to transfer these rights to Alfred Dent, a wealthy British businessman based in Hong Kong.
Dent went on to form the British Provisional Association. In 1881 this venture. in turn, became the British North Borneo Chartered Company, which began the task of administering what is now the state of Sabah under the name North Borneo.
British influence was solidified yet further when, in 1888, North Borneo became a British protectorate. Over the 60 years that followed, the area saw some economic development, based largely on the timber and later rubber trades.
Colonial rule was not always popular, however; a famous rebellion against the British North Borneo Chartered Company led by Bajau-Suluk leader Mat Saleh from 1891 to 1900 is still commemorated.
Rule by the company continued until the Second World War, however, and the invasion of Borneo by Japanese forces on january 1, 1942. Sabah was heavily bombed during the wait Sandakan was destroys and jesselton was heavily damaged by US bombing during the latter part ofthe conflict.
Uprisings against Japanese occupation were dealt with harshly, and many Allied, mainly Australian prisoners of war died on notorious 'death marches' across the state.
It was the Australian army which finally liberated Sabah in the closing stages of the war. All these events are still commemorated today both by Sabahans and visiting Australians on Anzac Day.
After the defeat of the Japanese and the end of the Second World War, the British North Borneo Chartered Company was left with the huge task and expense of rebuilding Sabah.The difficulty of the situation led them to relinquish their rights to the British government. In 1946, under colonial administration, Sabah's capital was moved to Jesselton, where it has remained ever since.
The end of the Second World War also saw the rise of nationalism in many of the region's colonies. With British powerwaning across the globe. Malaysia was granted independence on August 31, 1957, and became the Federation of Ma|aya.This did not include Sabah, which was still known as North Borneo.
In 1962, the Cobbold Commission was sent to the state and to neighbouring Sarawak, which was also under British rule, tojudge ifthe local population favoured union with Malaya. The Commission concluded that the majority of citizens indeed were in favour.
Sabah then gained independence on August 31, 1963. On September 16 of the same year. Sabah joined Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia. Singapore withdrew from the federation two years later.
The union of Sabah and Sarawak with Malaysia was not accepted in neighbouring Indonesia, where the dictator Sukarno vowed to make these territories part of Indonesia. An undeclared conflict resulted, known as the Confrontation, that lasted until Sukarno`s downfall in 1965.
Sabah held its first state election in 1967, with 10 more held up until the most recent in 2008. The state has been led by 13 different Chief Ministers since independence, and nine governors, known as Yang di-Pertuan Negeri.
ln 1984, the state ceded its control of the island of Labuan, which had previously been part ofSabah to the federal government. It was made a federal territory and is administered directly from Peninsular Malaysia. ln 2002, Sabah won an international court case over the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan, which are also claimed by lndonesia.The islands are now internationally recognised as part of the state and Malaysia.
Sabah's Kinabalu National Park has also been made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and similar status is being perused for Maliau Basin.
Sabah is the second-largest of Ma|aysia’s states, covering an area of 74,500 sq km. It is bordered by Sarawak to the south-west, the Indonesian state of Kalimantan to the south, the South China Sea to the west and north, the Sulu Sea to the north-east and the Celebes Sea to the east.
Located on the tip of Borneo, Sabah has an extensive coastline, which stretches some 1400 km. Sabah’s terrain is generally mountainous, with the Banjaran Crocker range of central mountains varying in height from 1000 metres to the 409 5-metre-high peak of Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest mountain in Malaysia, and indeed in the whole of South-east Asia.
There are also several lower ranges of hills near the coasts, which are traversed by an extensive network of rivers and valleys that, in most cases. are covered with dense jungle.
This makes Sabah`s interior an area of extraordinary bio-diversity. The state’s plant and animal life are studied by many of the wor|d’s top universities, while increasingly, businesses too have become interested in the properties of Sabah's biosphere and its application in everything from medicines to energy.
The state has a number of key areas for biodiversity in addition to Kinabalu and the Maliau Basin,with some of the most important being the Danum Valley, Sepilok and Tabin. National or state park areas in Sabah are under the protection of Sabah Parks.
Off the coast of Sabah lie a number ofislands and coral reefs, including the largest island in Malaysia. Pulau Banggi. Other popular islands, which have proved their worth as tourist attractions are Pulau Selingan. Pulau Gaya, Pulau Tiga, Pulau Layang-Layang and the famed Pulau Sipadan.
The state’s major river is the Kinabatangan, which runs from the Western mountains to the Sulu Sea, off the east coat. At 560km, it is the second-longest river in Malaysia. It also flows through the largest forest-covered floodplain in the country.
The diving sites around Sipadan Island are known as being some of the best in the world, primarily because of the unparalleled diversity of the marine wildlife found there. Lacques Cousteau described Sipadan as "an untouched piece of art".CLIMATE:
Sabah has an equatorial climate, which means it is generally hotand sunnyall year The average temperature in the lowlands, which encompass Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Sandakan and Tawau, is 32°C, while in the highlands it is around 21°C. Temperatures remain stable throughout the year, giving the climate a sense of uniformity on a day-to-day basis.
Mount Kinabalu, due to its sheer size, is the exception. Temperatures on the mountain can drop below freezing at elevations above 3500 metres. There are two distinct seasons in Sabah; the dry season, which starts in April and continues through October; and the wet season, which lasts from November to March.
However, as Sabah is situated below the typhoon belt, the wet season is not as harsh as in areas further north. Downpours last only a matter of hours. rather than days, and the state receives an annual average of 2909 mm of rainfall.NATURAL RESOURCES:
Sabah is endowed with a rich variety of natural resources. lt is home to the third-largest rainforest in the world. and approxi- mately 60% of its land is forested, while agricultural use accounts for around 30% of its surface area.
It is a botanical paradise, boasting an amazing array of flora and fauna. Several species of the rafflesia, the wor|d's largest flower, the bloom of which can grow to upto a metre in diameter; is found in Sabah.
Subsistence crops are also plentiful, and oil palm plantations cover more than 700,000 ha, mainly along the eastern coast. Sabah's agricultural land has the highest yield of oil palm fresh fruit bunches per ha among the Malaysian states.
Sabah is also Ma|aysia's predominant cocoa-producing state, accounting for more than 20% ofthe country's total production of cocoa beans. Rubber is Sabah’s third- most important commercial crop.
The state’s offshore crude oil reserves are estimated at approximately 2.3bn barrels, whereas gas reserves are estimated to be 12.1trn cu feet. Crude oil production runs at 147,000 barrels per day. Based on this rate, oil reserves will be exhausted within 43 years - as will gas reserves within 30 years - if no new stocks are found. It is hoped that ongoing investment in enhanced oil recovery techniques and deepwater exploration will extend the lifetime of the state’s hydrocarbons industry. LANGUAGE AND ETHNICITY:
Sabah's population of 3.12m is officially divided into 32 ethnic groups, each of which speaks a different language. There are another 80 or so dialects or variants from these main languages. Of the ethnic groups, 28 recognised as Bumiputra, or indigenous people.
The Iargestindigenous group, making up one third of the population, is the Kadazan-Dusun, a term that includes all indigenous people of Dusunic origin. The Kadazan feature strongly in this group. They are originally from Penampang - close to the state capital, Kota Kinabalu - and the Papar area.
Other groups include Bajaus, Illanuns, Suluks and ethnic Chinese, who acccount for arround 10 % of the population and are the largest non—Bumiputra ethnic group. The predominant Chinese dielect group in Sabah is Hakka, followed by Cantonese and Hokkien. Most ethnic Chinese people in Sabah are concentrated in the major cities and town, namely Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.
There are much smaller proportion of lndians and other South Asians in Sabah compared to other parts of Malaysia. The Cocos are a minority ethnic group in Sabah and live predominantly in the Tawau division.
In recent years, too. large numbers of migrant workers from neighbouring Indonesia and the Philippines have come to the state, forming their own communities in many of Sabah`s towns and cities.
Recent labour shortages for low-skilled workers have also led to numbers of migrant workers from other Asian countries also growing.RELIGION:
While in Malaysia as a whole, Islam is the most widely followed religion, in Sabah other faiths form a majority. Ethnic Malays almost always follow Islam, while Christianity is popular amongst native groups and ethnic Chinese, with many of the latter also adhering to Chinese beliefs, such as Taosim, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Animistic religions are still an influence in the rural areas, although this is quickly dying out. The influence of religious identity is less pronounced in Sabah than in many places, however, with most locals very tolerant of other peop|e's beliefs.
Despites these differences, collectively, people from Sabah are known as Sabahans and identify themselves as such.Sumber:
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