As early as the 9th century AD., North Borneo [now Sabah], then under various chieftains traded with China and later the Spanish and the Portuguese. During the 15th century, North Borneo was a vassal of the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the land east of Murudu Bay to the Sultan of Sulu. In the early 1880’s, Moses, an American trader, obtained a lease over North Borneo from Brunei. The lease eventually passed to Alfred Dent, an Englishman. In 1881, he signed a treaty with Brunei and Sulu, converting the lease into a cession.
Thus British North Borneo was born. It was administered by the Chartered Company of British North Borneo until the Japanese Occupation. In 1945, after World War II, North Borneo became a British Crown Colony. In 1963, it gained independence, became known as Sabah and joined Malaysia. Today Sabah is an integral part of Malaysia.