Thursday, November 23, 2017

Once in a Lifetime Journey: Fun Facts About Sabah state in East Malaysia you never knew

The geographical division of Borneo is sometimes confusing to understand. It is the third largest non-continental island in the world (after Greenland and New Guinea) and shares space with the nation of Brunei and Indonesia’s Kalimantan region. I have met many people on my travels who are still unsure if Borneo belongs to Malaysia, Indonesia or is its own country.

Let’s clear the air quickly.

The island itself is called Borneo and consists of the five Indonesia provinces that make up Kalimantan, the Islamic sultanate of Brunei and the northwest area of the island known as Malaysian Borneo or officially East Malaysia, which includes the constituents of Sabah and Sarawak (together making 26% of the population of Borneo). 

Each part of Borneo is therefore administered by different countries. So next time someone tells you they’re going to Borneo, you can show off your geographical skills by asking them to be more specific.

East Malaysia is divided into two states. The northern tip of Borneo is called Sabah (capital Kota Kinabalu or KK) and Sarawak (capital Kuching) covers the north-west area of the island.

1. Malay or Chinese

It was reported in 2015 that Sabah’s population amounted to 3,5 million, making it the third most populous state in Malaysia with the highest non-citizen population. Although Borneo is surrounded by mainland Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the largest group of non-indigenous Sabahans is in fact ethnic Chinese, mostly of Hakka descent, who make up close to 10% of the population. So while Bahasa Malaysia (national language) and English are widely spoken, there are also a lot of Mandarin speakers in Borneo.

2. Land Beneath the Wind

Sabah is known as ‘Land Beneath the Wind’ because it is located 6? north of the equator, just below the tropical typhoon belt. It misses the devastating effects of the typhoons that frequently hit neighbouring Philippines. Being an equatorial country, Sabah experiences year-round summer of 22-33?C for most areas, with Kinabalu Park being the exception, with temperatures dropping to as low as 2?C up on the mountain.