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Definition: Sabah from Collins English Dictionary


1 a state of Malaysia, occupying N Borneo and offshore islands in the South China and Sulu Seas: became a British protectorate in 1888; gained independence and joined Malaysia in 1963. Capital: Kota Kinabalu. Pop: 2 603 485 (2000). Area: 73 620 sq km (28 425 sq miles) Former name (until 1963): North Borneo

Summary Article: Sabah
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Self-governing state of the federation of Malaysia, occupying northeast Borneo, forming (with Sarawak) East Malaysia; area 73,613 sq km/28,415 sq mi; population (2010) 3,120,000. The capital is Kota Kinabalu. The state has considerable mineral wealth, including tin, antimony, diamonds, iron, and sulphur, but development has been hindered by the lack of an effective transport system. In many areas navigable rivers, such as the rivers Labuk, Padas, and Kinabatangan, offer the only means of transport. Of these the Kinabatangan, along which shallow-draft vessels are able to navigate 300 km/186 mi inland, is the most important. Since the early 20th century plantation agriculture has produced commercial crops of tobacco, coconuts, palm oil, and rubber. Industries include sawmilling and rubber processing.

The region is chiefly mountainous (highest peak Mount Kinabalu 4,098 m/13,450 ft, also the highest peak in Malaysia) and forested. The Kadazans form the largest ethnic group at 30% of the population. There are also 250,000 immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines. The principal languages are Malay (official) and English; the main religions are Sunni Muslim and Christian (the Kadazans, among whom there is unrest about increasing Muslim dominance).

The government consists of a constitutional head of state with a chief minister, cabinet, and legislative assembly.

In 1877–78 the sultan of Sulu made concessions to the British North Borneo Chartered Company, which was eventually consolidated with Labuan as a British colony in 1946, and became the state of Sabah within Malaysia in 1963. The Philippines advanced territorial claims on Sabah in 1962 and 1968 on the grounds that the original cession by the sultan was illegal, Spain having then been sovereign in the area.

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