Kota Kinabalu Port
Review and History

Kota Kinabalu Port is located on Borneo’s northwest coast on the South China Sea. It is the capital and main commercial and industrial center for the Sabah state in Malaysia. With excellent deep-water anchorage, the city rebounded quickly from World War II bombing to become the capital of British North Borneo in 1946. In 2000, over 570 thousand people lived in Kota Kinabalu Port, while the urban area is home to about 700 thousand souls. It is the biggest city in Sabah state and the sixth biggest in the country of Malaysia.

Kota Kinabalu Port’s economy is based on industry, but tourism is growing quickly as a source of revenues. The city contains many commercial banks and insurance companies, and there are several manufacturing companies with plants in Kota Kinabalu Port. Construction is underway on the 3.4 thousand hectare Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park at Sepangar Bay, where the Sepangar Bay Oil Terminal Port is located today. Kota Kinabalu Port is a popular location for regional, national, and international conferences, including meetings of United Nations member countries and ASEAN representatives.

Port History

From the 15th to 17th Centuries, Kota Kinabalu Port was under the control of the Malay Brunei Sultanate. The Sultanate’s first meeting with Westerners took place in Kota Kinabalu Port when they met Magellan’s fleet in 1521.

In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Nasruddin, ceded the area to the Sultanate of Sulu under military pressure. In 1763, Sulu Sultan A’zim-ud-Din signed a treaty with the British East India Company. In 1878, a treaty giving control of most of North Borneo and Sabah was signed between Baron de Overbeck and partner Alfred Dent and the Suku Sultan Jamal Al-Alam.

In 1882, the British North Borneo Chartered Company set up a settlement on Gaya Island just offshore from today’s Kota Kinabalu Port. The indigenous Bajau people lived on the island at the time.

Bajau hero Datu Muhammad Salleh (Mat Salleh) destroyed the British settlement, burning their installation at Gaya Island, in 1897. In 1899, the British established a new settlement at Jesselton. That settlement was renamed Kota Kinabalu in 1968. The Kota Kinabalu Port gets its name from the nearby Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain. The British captured and killed Mat Salleh in 1900.

In 1915, the final important revolt against the British took place when Ontoros Antanom led the Murut people to a futile battle in Rundum District where he and many of his followers died.

The Japanese occupied Kota Kinabalu Port in 1942, calling it Api. Allied attacks began in 1944. In 1945, as World War II was coming to an end, Kota Kinabalu Port was destroyed by Allied bombs that left only three buildings standing. The Japanese retreated in October 1945 a month after they had surrendered.

In 1946, North Borneo was transferred to the British government from the British North Borneo Chartered Company, making it a formal British Dominion. The rebuilding of the settlement called Jesselton began.

In 1963, North Borneo became Sabah and part of the Federation of Malaysia. The day, September 16th, is known as Malaysia Day. In 1968, Jesselton was renamed Kota Kinabalu. In 2000, Kota Kinabalu Port was official recognized as a city by the Malaysian government.

Today, Kota Kinabalu Port is a busy growing city where many people work for the government. Kota Kinabalu Port exports coastal rubber from Tenom in the south. Kota Kinabalu Port is home to light industries like woodworking, flour milling, and production of soap, plastics, and furniture.

About 90 kilometers to the northeast of Kota Kinabalu Port is Kinabalu National Park, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, as it is a place of great biologic diversity, with plants from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, and the pan-tropics.

Kota Kinabalu Port is a popular tourist destination and a tourism gateway to Sabah and Borneo.

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