The Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu is located in the "Land Below the Wind," in northern Borneo Island, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. When it became a diocese in 1976, it covered the whole of Sabah but after the Diocese of Keningau (Interior Division) was erected in 1993, the archdiocese now covers the divisions of West Coast, Kudat in the north, Sandakan and Tawau on the east coast. These are further divided into municipalities, districts and sub-districts. To date there are two municipalities, 21 districts and 10 sub-districts
The three million population of Sabah is as diverse as its ecology. Comprising a colorful mix of 32 ethnic group and other non-indigenous people, they are all interwoven by culture, tradition, marriage and language.
The largest ethnic group is the Kadazandusun, making up a third of the total population. They can be found on the west coast, to the interior. Formerly the main rice-producer of the states, the Kadazandusun are now the major force in Sabah's rapid progress towards urban modernization.
The Bajaus were originally the seafarers of Borneo. Many still reside along the coastline with fishing being a major occupation. Their riding skills on ponies have earned them the nickname of "Cowboy of the East." Their colorful costumes (as well of their ponies) are greatly admired. The Muruts reside mainly in the hinterland, with many still occupying the traditional long houses. Once feared as they were headhunters, the Muruts now mainly use their blowpipes and darts for hunting food and on ceremonial occasions.
The highlight of all ethnic community festivals is the Harvest Festival held in May. Traditionally, it is a ceremony to give thanks to the rice spirit for a bountiful harvest and to ensure the same for the next season. Gong-beating competition, unduk ngadau (Harvest Queen), buffalo-races and other traditional sports, the appearance of the Bobohizan or the high priestess, are all part of the interesting festival. The majority of the ethnic communities in Sabah are either Muslim or Christian by choice.
The Chinese who migrated in great numbers to Sabah during the early years of the North Borneo Chartered Company era in the 19th century, make up a large portion of the non-indigenous people. Living mostly in and around the city, they engage themselves primarily in commerce. They have adapted themselves well in Sabah with many of their traditional beliefs and celebr
Bahasa Melayu is the official language and is the medium of instruction in school. However, other languages, such as Chinese and English, are also widely spoken and used in commerce.
As early as the 9th century A.D., North Borneo (now Sabah), then under various chieftains, traded with China and later the Spanish and the Portuguese. In the 15th century, North Borneo was a vassal of the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, the sultan ceded the land east of Murudu Bay to the Sultan of Sulu. In the early 1880s, Moses, an American trader, obtained a lease over North Borneo from Brunei. The lease eventually passed to Alfred Dent, an Englishman. In 1881, he signed a treaty with Brunei and Sulu, converting the lease into a cession.
Thus British North Borneo was born. It was administered by the Chartered Company of British North Borneo until the Japanese Occupation. In 1945, after World War II, North Borneo became a British Crown Colony. On Aug. 31, 1963, it gained independence from the British and became known as Sabah when it joined Malaysia on Sept. 16, 1963.
Kota Kinabalu City is the capital of Sabah, set between lush, tropical hills and fronting emerald green waters. Formerly known as Jesselton before its name changed in 1966 to Kota Kinabalu, the state capital is also affectionately called "KK" by locals.
As early as the 1940s, Jesselton was little more than a few traditional bamboo and timber houses, built on stilts over the shallow water of the tranquil bay. At this time it was not the capital of Sabah. It was only after the Second World War that it replaced Sandakan as the state capital. Being virtually flattened by Allied bombers during the War, it was rebuilt into the fairly modern city it is today. It became the state capital around 1949. The city of Kota Kinabalu was once known as "Api-Api," meaning "Fire-Fire," as it was repeatedly torched by pirates.
Today, it is a bustling city with a population of about 355,435 people and is the main administrative and business center. It is also the gateway to Sabah, being linked by direct flights to the national capital, Kuala Lumpur, and to major cities in Asia, including Singapore, Manila, Cebu, Bandar Seri Begawan, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Tarakan, Balikpapan, Menado and Xiamen. It attained city status on Feb. 2, 2000.
Sabah has a unicameral Legislative Assembly that enacts laws on matters under its jurisdiction such as land and forestry. Members of the State Legislative Assembly are elected every five years. The chief executive of the Sabah Government is the chief minister who is assisted by three deputy chief ministers and six other cabinet ministers. The state cabinet implements policies drawn up by the legislative assembly through the civil service.
Sabah has a tropical climate with seasonal variations according to the monsoon period. The northeast monsoon lasts from November to April while the southwest monsoon lasts from May to October. The annual mean temperature ranges from 24-32 degrees Celsius. Rainfall averages about 2,500 mm per annum. The mean relative humidity is about 74.2%.
Sabah, the second largest state in Malaysia, stretches over 72,500 square kilometers with a coastline of 14,400 kilometers washed by the South China Sea in the west, the Sulu Sea in the northeast and the Celebes Sea in the east. It is one of the two states in East Malaysia, the other being Sarawak. They are bounded by Indonesia while Sarawak also shares a border with Brunei.
Other recently settled indigenous people in the state include the Suluks, various southern Filipino ethnic groups, the Lundayehs and Ibans from Sarawak and Kalimantan, and others of Malay racial stock from Indonesia. While some of these indigenous people still maintain their traditional way of life, many others have gone into public life as white and blue collar workers, businessmen, civil servants and politicians.
Aside from the traditional harvest celebration, the ethnic communities together with the other races, also celebrate Chinese New Year, Christmas and Hari Raya Puasa with "open house" events being given by the state, community and church leaders. These events manifest the harmonious relationship among the races and religions.
Sabah is mountainous, especially along the West Coast, with undulating lowland basins in the eastern part. A mountain range runs from the north to the southwest, culminating at Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 meters.
Islam is the official religion in Malaysia but the nation's constitution guarantees freedom of worship. The other religions found in the state are Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Animism.