Kota Kinabalu, the gateway to the rest of Sabah , is also the State Capital. It has a population of around 300,000. Kota Kinabalu or K.K. as it is usually called, is a relatively new town as the original town was destroyed during the Second World War. In the vicinity of Kota Kinabalu here are various places of interest, including the offshore, islands, Tanjung Aru Beach, the State Museum and the State Mosque, the Gaya Street Fair every Sunday morning, the "pasar malam" or open night markets where you can test your bargaining skills, and nearby water villages. Kota Kinabalu itself is well served by hotels and restaurants of international standard.
Sabah is a unique land, a melting pot of many indigenous and immigrant groups. The population of slightly over 1.7 million comprises over 30 different races and over 80 different dialects, each group having its own colourful culture, tradition, festival and customs. The indigenous groups include the Kadazan / Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus, Lotud, Brunei, Orang Sungei, Kadayan, Bisaya and many other subgroups. The Chinese form the largest non-indigenous group. The main groups and their 'adat' (cultural observances) are highlighted here.
The largest ethnic group in Sabah, the Kadazans/Dusuns make up about one third of the population, and are found mainly on the West Coast. The Kadazans/Dusuns are prosperous agricultural people and are the main rice producers of Sabah, though now many have gone into different professions. Their system of beliefs revolves around their rice-planting and harvesting with female priestesses called bobohizan presiding over the rituals. The many sub-groups of the Kadazans/Dusuns include the Rungus, Lotud, Tambanuo, Kimarangan, Sanayou, Minokok and Teneizera.
The Murut live mostly in the South West region of Sabah and in remote parts of the interior residency between the town of Keningau and the borders of Sarawak and Indonesia. Many still live in longhouses and were once feared for r head hunting. Murut weddings are renowned f or their elaborate displays of bridewealth, ancing and feasting. The Muruts were also great hunters, using spears, blowpipes and poisoned darts. Some of the Muruts tribes include the Nabai, Peluan, Bokan, Tagal and Timogun.
The Bajau are skilled fishermen though there are linguistic and cultural differences between those living on the west and east coast. These living on the west coast are predominantly farmers and the Bajau, well known for their skilled horsemanship, have been dubbed 'Cowboys of the East'. They are expert "Horsemen" rearing ponies, buffaloes and cattle as well as being good rice cultivators. One can see them every Sunday at the picturesque Kota Belud "Tamu" as well as on festival occasions resplendent in their colourful costumes riding brightly decorated ponies. Those living on the east coast are mainly sea nomads, coming ashore only to bury their dead. Often called the 'Sea Gypsies' because of their love for wanderings on the high seas, they were also fearless sailors.
Sabah occupies the top portion of the island of Borneo (the third largest island in the world) and covers an area of 74,500 sq km (29,388 sq miles) with a coastline of about 1,440 km (about 900 miles) washed by the South China Sea on the West and the Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea on the East.Sabah lies between 4° and 8° North of the equator, and its climate is tropical but pleasant. Sunny blue skies typify most days and it is summer all year round. Though depending on the month and locality, rain may cause a little inconvenience, with the annual rainfall varying from 60 to 120 inches. As a general guide the wet season falls between November and February. Fortunately, Sabah does not experience any natural disaster or calamities. In fact it is under the typhoon belt (thus the name "Land Below The Wind") and is free from any climatic disturbances. Temperatures seldom reach 90° F (33° C) and usually vary during the day from 74° F to 88° F (23° C to 73° C) and are cooler on the mountains