kota kinabalu – SOCIAL AND CULTURAL


Bajau boys paddling a boat near stilted houses

The Malaysian Census 2010 Report estimated the population of Kota Kinabalu at 452,058.As with its sister city of Kuching in Sarawak, KK is home to a mixture of many different races and ethnicities. Non-Malaysian citizens form the largest group in the city with 110,556 people followed by Chinese (93,429), Bajau/Suluk (72,931), Kadazan-Dusun (69,993), other Bumiputras (59,107), Brunei Malays (35,835), Murut (2,518), Indian (2,207) and others (5,482). The Chinese are mostly Hakkas and reside mainly in the Luyang area.

There is a substantial Cantonese-speaking population and smaller communities of Hokkien and Foochow-speaking Chinese scattered throughout all areas of the city. Most of the Foochow speakers in particular emigrated to Sabah from the neighbouring Malaysian state of Sarawak. Penampang district are populated mainly by Kadazans, while Bajaus and Dusuns mainly reside in Likas, Sembulan, Inanam, Menggatal, Sepanggar and Telipok.

The Brunei Malays and Bajau/Suluks are Muslims. The Kadazan-Dusuns, Muruts, Rungus and Lundayeh/Lun Bawang mainly practice Folk forms of Christianity, Islam, or Animism, whilst the Chinese are mainly Buddhists, Taoist or Christians. There are numerous Roman Catholic, Basel (Lutheran), Anglican, Evangelical, and Methodist churches throughout the city. A small number of Hindus, Sikhs, Animists, and secularists can also be found.

There is a sizable Filipino population in the city. The first wave of migrants arrived in the late 15th century during the Spanish colonisation, while a later wave arrived in the early 1970s. Most of the earlier migrants have been naturalised as Malaysian citizens. However, there are still some Filipinos living in the city without proper documentation as illegal immigrants. Most of the Filipino migrants are Chavacano-speaking Tausūgs (Suluk) coming from the southern parts of Philippines. The city is also home to immigrants from Indonesia.

Other resident groups in smaller numbers include Indians, Pakistanis and Eurasians and more newly arrived expatriates from China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and Europe. Interracial marriages are not uncommon and Kadazan-Chinese intermarriages are particularly common. The mixed offspring of Kadazan and Chinese are referred to as Sino-Kadazans or simply “Sinos”.