In the 16th century the state of Sabah as we know today was known as the Kingdom of Brunei. Brunei was also the centre of trade with China. The region was controlled then first by Sri Vijayan of Sumatra and then by the Majapahit of Java. In the 15th Century however, the Malacca Empire spread its winds under under Parameswara and took over the trade of Brunei. Traders influenced the spread of Islam in Brunei in the 15th century and the Brunei Sultans took control after the fall of Malacca to the Portuguese in 1511.
Foreigners, except for the Europeans who dealt with Sabah had left no written records of their activities in the region. The indigenous people also have no or little records except oral history and traditions. It is said that the first English visited Sabah in 1655. In 1760 Alexander Dalrymple and James visited Borneo and mentioned Sabah.
In 1881, British North Borneo Provisional Association Ltd was officially formed and the British conferred the Royal Charter to the association in November in the same year. The North Borneo Chartered Company was formed in 1882 and took over all the rights of the Provisional Association. North Borneo became a British protectorate and thus making North Borneo a sphere of British influence. The company's rule had the greatest impact on the development in the region. Except for a few pockets where there was resistance, the rule was generally peaceful.
The British North Borneo Company ruled up to 1942 when the Second World War had disrupted the peace process in North Borneo. Japanese forces also invaded the region and occupied Sabah till she was liberated by the Ninth Division Australian Imperial Forces. North Borneo was administered by the British Military Administration after the Second World War till civil government was restored in on July 15, 1946.
Sabah was placed under the British Crown in 1946 as the British North Borneo Company could not afford to rebuild Sabah. The destruction of the capital of Sandakan was so bad that it still could not be rebuilt today. The colonial system of administration was not very different to the rule of the Chartered Company era. Rule was generally peaceful as the main focus was on rebuilding by the leaders.
Political consciousness emerged only in the 1960s. This was because the population was generally placid before. The people felt the need for independence during this time. In 1961, the Prime Minister of Malaya Tunku Abdul Rahman informed the citizens regarding the formation of the Federation of Malaysia which was also to include Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore. Malaysia was formally established without Brunei in 1963 and North Borneo's name was formally changed to Sabah.
Sabah today is one of the leading states in Malaysia. It attracts a number of tourists all round the year and is known for its landmarks and attractions.
For more information on Sabah, Malaysia visit Travour.