Formerly called North Borneo or British North Borneo, the region was ruled by Brunei but was ceded to the Sultanate of Sulu (see Sulu Archipelago) in the mid-17th cent. Leased by the British North Borneo Company in 1878, the area became a British protectorate in 1882. In 1963 it joined the Federation of Malaysia and assumed its present name. The Philippines have also claimed Sabah, based on Sulu's objection (as a breach of the lease) to the transfer of the territory to Malaysia. Filipino supporters of one of the sultan of Sulu claimants occupied locations in E Sabah beginning in Feb., 2013, leading to fighting with Malaysian security forces.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Malaysia and Singapore Political Geography