BACKGROUND The East Malaysian state of Sabah is the second largest state in the country with an area of 74,500 sq km.
The state boasts a long coastline of 1,440 km facing the South China Sea in the west and both the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea in the east. The state's ecological systems, both on land and in the sea, are havens for naturalists.
Being located just below the typhoon belt, Sabah has always been known as 'The Land Below the Wind'.
HISTORY During the 15th century, Sabah was a vassal state of the Brunei Sultanate. In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the land east of Marudu Bay to the Sultan of Sulu.
In the early 1880s, Moses, an American trader obtained a lease over Sabah from Brunei. The lease was eventually passed to Alfred Dent, an Englishman who signed a treaty with Brunei and Sulu in 1881 to convert the lease into a cession. Thus British North Borneo (Sabah's old name) was born.
The state 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.
GETTING THERE Malaysia Airlines flies regularly from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila and Hong Kong direct to Kota Kinabalu.