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Tham Kung Temple I Sam Sing Kung Chinese Temple I Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple I The Australia Memorial I Agnes Keith's House I Masjid Jamek I St Michael's & All Angels Church I Berhala Island I Japanese Cemetery I The Central Market

"Sandakan" is derived from the Suluk word "sanda" meaning, to pawn and "kan" being the suffix. So "Sandakan" means the place that was pawned. Who pawned it, and to whom, remains a mystery.

As the story goes, in the early 1870s, William Clarke Cowie, a Scottish adventure and engineer, delivered guns and ammunitions to the Sultan of Sulu, then protecting his territory from Spanish conquerors. In return, Cowie was granted permission by the Sultan to set up base on Pulau Timbang, in Sandakan Bay, where a small Suluk village existed. Cowie called his base "Sandakan" but it soon became known as "Kampong German" due to the number of German traders who visited Cowie.

The settlement was re-located to Buli Sim Sim in 1879. It was an uninhabited jungle and mangrove area but with one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. He named the new settlement, "Elopura" meaning "The Beautiful City" but the name reverted to "Sandakan".

Sandakan Sandakan

In 1883, the British North Borneo Chartered Company moved its capital from Kudat to Sandakan. A "building mania" started and Sandakan became a bustling modern town though Allied bombings to liberate it towards the end of World War 2 nearly flattened the town.

In retaliation, the Japanese burnt whatever remained and Sandakan as a town, ceased to exist in June 1945. In 1946, the capital was moved to Jesselton (subsequently, renamed Kota Kinabalu).

Sandakan was first and foremost a port for the export of logs and timber. In fact, it was said that Sandakan timber went into the building of Peking's Temple of Heaven. In its heyday, Sandakan used to boast of having the greatest concentration of millionaires in the world! Today, it is known more as the gateway to nature's most prolific treasures in Borneo.

Location Map
Getting There
Major City Distance
Tour Package
Islands & Beaches
Layang-Layang Island
Sipadan Island
Tiga Park Island
Tanjung Aru Beach
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Turtle Islands
Lankayan Islands
Mabul Island
Kapalai Island
Mataking Island
Places of Interest
Fish Massage
Mengkabong Water Village
Orang Utan Sanctuary
Poring Hot Springs
Sabah Foundation Buillding
White Water Rafting
Sabah Museum
Lahad Datu
Lower Kinabatangan River
Hills/Forest Parks
Kinabalu Park
Mountain Kinabalu
Gomantong Caves
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