State of Sabah
Negeri Sabah
Flag of Sabah.svg 308px-Coat of arms of Sabah.svg.png
MottoBangsa Di Bawah Bayu
"Country Below the Wind"
Location of Sabah (green)
CapitalKota Kinabalu
Official languages Sabah Malay, Standard Malay, English
Ethnic groups  Kadazan-Dusun
Membership ASEAN
Non-Aligned Movement
Government Parliamentary Democracy
 -  President Juhar Mahiruddin
 -  Prime Minister Musa Aman
 -  Political Speaker Mustapha Alkasim
 -   estimate 5,543,500 
Currency Sabahan Dollar
The State of Sabah (Malay: Negeri Sabah) is a country in Southeast Asia, covering the north-eastern parts of the island of Borneo. It borders the Republic of Sarawak to the west and the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan to the south, Brunei to the northwest and Philippines to the northeast.

Sabah has had a diverse history. First it formed a large part of the Sultanate of Brunei, Sultanate of Sulu, then later part of British North Borneo and united to become part of Malaysia. The Borneo Partition which occurred after the Borneo War from 2008 to 2012, divided Sabah into a Malaysian state and Philippine territory. It gave the Philippines a share of Borneo, and a land border with Indonesia. However in 2015, the Philippine government granted Sabah its independence after the huge economic, social and political backlash caused by its acquisition.

Due to disagreements within the Philippine government as to how Sabah would be incorporated, it was labelled as an Autonomous Incorporated Territory. Vice President Jejomar Binay had proposed incorporating with the ARMM, or the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. However, Muhammad Umaruddin, Sabah's Territorial Governor rejected it.

Due to the widespread resistance against Philippine annexation, as well as the devastated economy and social unrest, the Philippine government proposed loosening Sabah into a trust territory, giving it back to Malaysia or eventually just granting it its freedom. Sabah had previously suffered the reputation of being Malaysia's poorest state, and now the Philippines' poorest territory. In October of 2015, Philippine president Gilbert Teodoro had announced intentions to possibly let go of Sabah, that came to fruition on December 31, 2015 on New Years Eve. The Filipino flag was finally taken down in the Sabahan capital of Kota Kinabalu, and replaced with the flag of the independent nation.

In February 1, 2016, the first Sabahan embassy opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and on March 1, 2016 an embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines. The Sabahan government is still in the process of building embassies around the world.

Juhar Mahiruddin, who served as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah under Malaysian rule, became the first and current President of Sabah. Adopting a parliamentary democratic system, Musa Aman, who served as Chief Minister of Sabah during its days as a Malaysian state became its Prime Minister. Though originally, Sabah was to become a constitutional monarchy with Juhar Mahiruddin having been crowned as its King amid its waning days as a territory of the Philippines, Mahiruddin and Aman later scrapped the idea and decided to form a parliamentary democracy instead.

In addition to its diverse history, the State of Sabah is also known as the "bread-basket of Borneo", with ethnic groups from all over neighboring countries and territories settling in Sabah. In addition to the natives, there are also communities of Javanese and Sundanese (from Indonesia), settlers from the southern Philippines and Ibans from the neighboring State of Sarawak, in addition to Chinese communities.


Ancient History

The history of Sabah is diverse. It then existed as the state of Vijayapura (Malay: Kerajaan Vijayapura), a tributary of the powerful Srivijaya Empire. This vassal state thrived around the 7th and 8th centuries. It was under the rule of an individual by the name of Rajah Sri Aagni, literally "son of the God of Fire" in Sanskrit. It is unknown of Sri Aagni's ethnic background, as historians propose he was either of native Sabahan origin, other suggestions have pointed to him being either Malay or Javanese.

Another kingdom, known as the P'o-ni (Chinese: 王国婆妮, Malay: Kerajaan P'o-ni), a Buddhist kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River. It was unknown of whether P'o-ni was an independent kingdom, or a tributary kingdom. Vijayapura and P'o-ni had considerable and cordial relations, and trade, along with economic links to the dynasties of the Chinese mainland, Indian Subcontinent, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and of those in the Philippines.

Bruneian Empire and Sulu Sultanate

The Sultanate of Brunei began after the ruler of Brunei embraced Islam. During the reign of the fifth sultan known as Bolkiah between 1485–1524, the Sultanate's thalassocracy extended over Sabah and the Sulu Archipelago, and had trading ports in Borneo and the Philippines. In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the northern and eastern portion of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu in compensation for the latter's help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate, although this was denied as supported by a numbers of old resources. Many Brunei Malays migrated to this region during this period, although the migration has begun as early as the 15th century after the Brunei conquest of the territory. In the same time, the seafaring Bajau-Suluk people arrived from the Sulu Archipelago and started to settling in the coasts of north and eastern Borneo. It is believed that they were fleeing from the oppression of the Spanish colonist in their region. While the thalassocratic Brunei and Sulu sultanates controlled the western and eastern coasts of Sabah respectively, the interior region remained largely independent from either kingdoms.

Castile War/Spanish-Moro War

The area today known as Sabah was the sigh of various wars and battles fought between the Spanish Empire, the Sulu Sultanate and the Brunei Sultanate.

In 1575, the Spanish Empire had its sights set on Brunei, wanting to incorporate it as part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1578, this would begin the Castile War, with the Spanish Empire setting an invasion against the Sultanate of Brunei. The Sulu forces aided the Bruneians in fighting the Spanish. 

The Spanish were severely defeated, thanks to in-part, to native Filipino soldiers betraying their Spanish commanders and allying themselves with the Bruneians and Sulu forces. The Spanish forces retreated, thereby, resulting in a brutal retaliation from the Spanish government against the natives of the Philippines, seeing them as "untrustworthy" and enacting a three-year ban on Filipino natives from serving in the Spanish Army.

In return, the Sultanate of Brunei sent generals to aid the Moro raiders in destroying, pillaging and invading Spanish forts in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

British North Borneo

In 1761, Alexander Dalrymple, an officer of the British East India Company, concluded an agreement with the Sultan of Sulu to allow him to set up a trading post in the Sulu area, although it proved to be a failure. In 1846, the island of Labuan on the west coast of Sabah was ceded to Britain by the Sultan of Brunei, and in 1848 it became a British Crown Colony while the territory of Sabah ceded through an agreement on 1877, the territory on the eastern part were ceded by the Sultanate of Sulu in 1878. Following a series of transfers, the rights to North Borneo were transferred to Alfred Dent, whom in 1881 formed the British North Borneo Company (BNBC). In the following year, Kudat was made its capital. In 1883, the capital was moved to Sandakan and in 1885, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany signed the Madrid Protocol, which recognised the sovereignty of Spain over the Sulu Archipelago in return for the relinquishment of all Spanish claims over North Borneo. North Borneo became a protectorate of the United Kingdom in 1888.

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