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Malaysia 2006 Statistic

About 50.4% of the people are Malay, and another 23.7% are
Chinese. The remainder is comprised of indigenous peoples
(11%), Indians (7.1%), and other ethnicities (7.8%)v. About
62.7% of the total population is of working age (i.e. between
the ages of 15-64)vi.

The population of Sabah was 2,449,389 in 2000. The third most populous state in Malaysia after Selangor and Johor.

Sabah 2000 Statistic

Sabah has one of the highest population growth rates in Malaysia as a result of illegal immigration from the Muslim-dominated southern provinces of Philippines.
Kadazan-Dusun: 17.8%
Bajau: 13.4%
Malay: 11.5%
Murut: 3.3%
Other bumiputra: 14.6%
Chinese majority Hakka: 13.2%
Other non-bumiputra: 4.8%
Non-Malaysian citizen: 25%


Malay Wedding

Bajau, the second largest indigenous group, is a collective term for a predominantly Muslim peoples and Kindered groups. Originally seafarers there are now two distinct groups, the East Coast Bajau and West Coast Bajau.

There are the "Land Bajau" (like our local cowboys) & the "Sea Bajau" (Sea Nomads that also exist in the Philipines).

The West Coast Bajau have now settled down around the Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud areas and have learnt the art of farming and cattle rearing. They are the famous cowboys of Sabah. Their skills in horsemanship are well known locally and on festive occasions both horses and riders are dressed in colorful costumes.

On the east coast however many of the Sea Bajaus still live in the traditional way. Fishing is the main activity. While many have settled on land or in water villages some are still nomadic boot dwellers.

The Bajau are actually from the southern Philippines, and arrived in Sabah more than 200 years ago. There are still close cultural ties between Sabah and Philippines Mindanao province.

Bajau  the second largest ethnic group in Sabah is  a sea-oriented, boat-dwelling, nomadic groups, have been a nomadic, seafaring people for most of their history, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing. Many Bajau still practise that same lifestyle today, this explains why they are commonly called `sea gypsies' of Malaysia

The Bajau people started their settlement by keeping close to shore by erecting houses on stilts, and traveling using Lepa-Lepa, handmade boats which many lived in. They chart particularly the waters of the Sulu Sea, off the southwestern coast of the Philippines, and the various seas that surround the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Bajau are present along both the eastern and western coasts of Sabah and in the foothills bordering the western coastal plains, from Kuala Penyu to Tawau and Semporna on the east. Many Bajau people of the Sabah east coast retain their seaborne lifestyle. And this makes the annual Semporna Regatta a highly anticipated spectacle for both the locals and outsiders.

Tawau Cultural Carnival 2007

Bajau Dancers in Tawau Cultural Festival 24-25 March 2007

See more photographs in our photo gallery...

Traditional Festival Costume of Bajau Laut tribes (sea gypsy people) of Malaysia.

See more about Sea Bajau of Semporna...

Bolongan - The pioneers of Tawau

In early 1890s, Tawau's population was about 200 comprising mainly Indonesian immigrants from Bulungan and Tawi-Tawi who had fled from the Dutch rule in Kalimantan........

Orang Cocos - The Scottish dancers of Malaysia

A Muslim group originally from Cocos Islands (Australia) in 1950s and settled down in Kampong Cocos in  Lahad Datu.......

KadazanDusun - The largest united ethnic group

The largest indigenous group are actually a collectivity of ethnic groups speaking similar languages and dialects as well as having similarities in culture and traditional beliefs. Within this group there exists at least 10 distinct languages with possibly 30 or more dialects....

Ethnic groups in Tawau

Sabah has the highest population density in Borneo. The Kadazan-Dusun are the largest ethnic group in Sabah, occupying most of the west coast and interior regions of the State.  Tourists to Tawau are amazed to see the various ethnic groups' unique cultural traditions and their traditional natural food.

Tawau has a  unique culture of over 30 ethnic groups. This district's ethnic cultural diversity is a pride of Malaysia.

Tawau has many ethnic groups from Indonesia and the Philippines. This little Town over the years has become  a melting pot where various cultures meet. The traditional and cultural heritage of  numerous ethnic groups from these 3 countries are united in diversity as Malaysian.

Besides the Malays, Chinese and Indians and indigenous groups like Kadazan, Murut, Bajau, Suluk and Tidung. Here we found minority group of Sabah such as  people of Arab, Pakistani, Cocos, Timorese, Tator, Banjarese, Javanese and Bugis descent.

In Sabah there are  32 indigenous ethnic groups in Sabah , speaking  over 50 dialects and languages. Making Sabah an multi-cultural and multi-religious region where everybody lives together in harmony. The main ethnic groups in Sabah are Malay, Kadazan, Chinese, Bajau, and Murut.

The main indigenous group are the Kadazandusun  living in the plains in the West of Sabah. Once primarily farmers, they are now mostly engaged in salaried employment  jobs from industries over tourism to the government departments.

The second most important group are the Sea Bajau, once a seafaring Muslim tribe referred as ‘sea gypsies’, though today only a handful of Bajau still live the traditional life of true nomads of the seas. They have settled along the east coast of Sabah in typical villages built right above the water.

The third most important ethnic entity in Sabah are the Murut, an interior tribe once famous for its intrepid warriors, and reputedly the last to give up the ancient custom of head-hunting.

The most important non-indigenous people in Sabah are the Chinese, and many businesses are run by Chinese families.

There is a unique group of people in Sabah : the illegal immigrants.  They are important to the economy of Sabah. Officially, 1.8 million people share 73,620 sq. km but large number of illegal immigrants boost the real population to well over 2.5 million. Sabah attracts illegal immigrants with lower population densities, much better prospects for employment and better minimum wages (RM10 per day for illegal immigrants working in plantations) compared to that in the Philippines or Indonesia. Several of the problems associated with illegal immigrants include the marine version of shifting cultivation, crime, diseases and street children.

Tawau used to be a haven for illegal immigrants from Indonesia. It is now 'under control' with the help from Federal Government in KL. But it is still the gateway to enter Malaysia for some successful illegal immigrants using boats from Indonesia via Nunukan, Pulau Nyamuk and Sebatik.

In using road to enter Tawau town, every vehicle with passengers has to show their documents and identification before they are allowed to pass security check points. But using sea routs the checking can be easily skipped. The sea is so vast and the coast line is so open with no check point.

Those illegal immigrants from Indonesia entered Sabah illegally before 2002 many obtained citizenships from the National Registration Department.

Tight actions taken by the Federal Government of Malaysia has successfully restrict the grow of illegal immigrants population in Tawau for the last few years.  Street children for example, just few years ago we see these stateless children every day sleeping in front those banks in Fajar commercial area are today no where to be seen. Instead the same area seen an increase of businessmen and tourist from Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.





Chinese is the second largest group. The largest single Chinese  group are Hakka (Kek), although Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hainanese, Henghua and other groups are found. The early Chinese migrants were mainly farmers brought in to open up the land, although artisans and miners also came. The early Chinese settlers were mainly Hakka Christian farmers. Even today this is reflected in the census, whereby in 1980 over 50% of the Chinese were classified as rural dwellers. The Chinese have intermixed with the local population, mainly the KadazanDusun, often creating a confusing situation ethnically whereby a person with a Chinese name may not be Chinese. This may only be an indication of some Chinese ancestry. He may be Kadazan in appearance, culture and language.




In Place of the Forest
• Environmental and Socio-economic Transformation in Borneo and the Eastern Malay Peninsula •


| Tagahas |


 August 11, 2018 01:45:38 AM

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