This article is about the federal territory and the homonymous island in Malaysia. For other uses, see Labuan (disambiguation). For the federal constituency represented in the Dewan Rakyat, see Labuan (federal constituency).
Federal Territory
Federal Territory of Labuan
Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
ولايه ڤرسكوتوان لابوان
Other transcription(s)
  Malay Labuan
  Jawi لابوان
  Chinese 纳闽
  Tamil ளாபுன்

Labuan financial park located in Victoria.


Motto: Maju dan Sejahtera
(Developed and Prosperous)

   Labuan in    Malaysia
Coordinates: 5°19′13.16″N 115°12′40.42″E / 5.3203222°N 115.2112278°E / 5.3203222; 115.2112278Coordinates: 5°19′13.16″N 115°12′40.42″E / 5.3203222°N 115.2112278°E / 5.3203222; 115.2112278
Country  Malaysia
Capital Victoria[1]
  Administered by Labuan Corporation
  Chairman Rozman Hj. Isli
  Total 91.64 km2 (35.38 sq mi)
Population (2015)[3]
  Total 96,800
  Density 1,100/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
  Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC+8)
Area code(s) 087
Vehicle registration L
SL (before becoming FT)

Labuan /ləˈbən/ (Jawi: لابوان), officially the Federal Territory of Labuan (Malay: Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan, Jawi: ولايه ڤرسكوتوان لابوان), is a federal territory of Malaysia. It is made up of the eponymous Labuan Island and six smaller islands, and is located off the coast of the state of Sabah in East Malaysia. Labuan's capital is Victoria and is best known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services via Labuan IBFC since 1990 as well as being an offshore support hub for deepwater oil and gas activities in the region. It is also a tourist destination for people travelling through Sabah, nearby Bruneians and scuba divers. The name Labuan derives from the Malay word labuhan which means harbour.[4]


The signing of the Treaty of Labuan between the Brunei sultanate and the British delegation on 18 December 1846 at the Brunei palace[5][6]
Brunei sultanates 15th c[6][7]
Ceded to the United Kingdom 1846[5][6]
Became Crown Colony 1848[6][8][9]
Administered by BNBC 1890[10][11]
Became part of the Straits Settlements 1 Jan 1907[12][13]
Japanese occupation 1941–1945
British Military Administration 1945–1946
Joined North Borneo Crown Colony 15 Jul 1946[14]
Part of Sabah and Malaysia 16 Sep 1963
Ceded to the Federal Government and made into Federal Territory 16 Apr 1984[15]
British flag hoisted for the first time on the island on 24 December 1846.[6]

Since the 15th century, the north and west coast of Borneo including the island of Labuan was part of the Bruneian Empire.[6][7] In the 18th century, Labuan attracted British interest. James Brooke acquired the island for Britain in 1846 through the Treaty of Labuan with the Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddin II on 18 December 1846.[5][6] A British naval officer, Rodney Mundy, visited Brunei with his ship HMS Iris to keep the Sultan in line until the British Government made a final decision to take the island and he took Pengiran Mumin to witness the island's accession to the British Crown on 24 December 1846.[16] Some sources state that during the signing of the treaty, the Sultan had been threatened by a British navy warship ready to fire on the Sultan's palace if he refused to sign the treaty while another source says the island was ceded to Britain as a reward for assistance in combating pirates.[5][17][18]

An 1888 British Map of Labuan

The main reason why the British possessed the island was to protect their own interest in the region as a naval base and to suppress piracy in the South China Sea.[6][19][20] The British also believed the island could be the next Singapore.[21] The island became a Crown Colony in 1848 with James Brooke appointed as the first governor and commander-in-chief, with William Napier as his lieutenant-governor.[6][8][9][22] In 1849, the Eastern Archipelago Company became the first of several British companies to try to exploit Labuan coal deposits.[23] The company was formed to exploit coal deposits on the island and adjacent coast of Borneo but soon became involved in a dispute with James Brooke.[6][24][25] Not proving itself a great commercial or strategic asset, administration of Labuan was handed to the British North Borneo Company in 1890.[10][11] In 1894, a submarine communications cable was built by the British to link the island's communications with North Borneo, Singapore and Hong Kong for the first time.[26] By 30 October 1906, the British Government proposed to extend the boundaries of the Straits Settlements to include Labuan. The proposal took effect from 1 January 1907.[12][13]

Japanese Army anchoring at the coast of Labuan on 14 January 1942.

In World War II, Labuan was occupied by Japan from December 1941 until June 1945 and governed as part of the Northern Borneo military unit by the Japanese 37th Army.[27] The island served as the administrative centre for the Japanese forces.[28] During the occupation, the Japanese Government changed the island name to Maida Island (前田島 [Maeda-shima]) on 9 December 1942 after Marquis Toshinari Maeda, as a remembrance to the first Japanese commander in northern Borneo who was killed in an air crash at Bintulu, Sarawak when en route to the island to open the airfield there.[6][28] As the Allied counter-attack came closer, the Japanese also developed Labuan and Brunei Bay as a naval base.[16]

Australian support craft moving towards Victoria and Brown beach to assist the landing of the members of 24th Infantry Brigade on the island during Operation Oboe Six.
Japanese Commander in Borneo, Lieutenant General Masao Baba signing the surrender document dated 9 September 1945 on the Australian 9th Division headquarters in Labuan while been watching by the Australian Major General George Wootten.

The liberation of Borneo by the Allied forces began on 10 June 1945 when the Australian Army under the command of Australian Major General George Wootten launched an attack under the codename of Operation Oboe Six. Labuan became the main objective for the Allied forces to repossess.[29] Soon, the 9th Division of the Australian Army launched the attack with support from airstrikes and sea bombardments until the capture of the Labuan airstrip.[30][31] Most of the Labuan island area including the main town of Victoria was under the control of Allied forces within four days of the landing on 10 June.[29] On 9 September 1945, the Japanese Lieutenant General Masao Baba officially surrendered at a place now known as Surrender Point near the Layang-layang beach which he had been brought to by the 9th Division headquarters on the island to sign the surrender document in front of the Australian 9th Division Army Commander George Wootten.[32]

The name of Labuan was later restored by the British and the island was administered under the British Military Administration together with the rest of the Straits Settlements. Labuan then on 15 July 1946 joined the North Borneo Crown Colony, which in turn became a part of the state of Sabah and Malaysia in 1963.[6][14] In 1984, the Government of Sabah ceded Labuan to the federal government which later been accessed to a federal territory.[15] It was declared an international offshore financial centre and free trade zone in 1990.[33]

Postage stamps and postal history

1885 2c, used in 1891

A post office was operating in Labuan by 1864, and used a circular date stamp as postmark. The postage stamps of India and Hong Kong were used on some mail, but they were probably carried there by individuals, instead of being on sale in Labuan. Mail was routed through Singapore. From 1867, Labuan officially used the postage stamps of the Straits Settlements but began issuing its own in May 1879.

Although initially the design for the first stamp issue was proposed to be depicting a clump of sago palms, for economic reasons, the queen heads design was finally adopted, having been used initially for postage stamps of Grenada.[34] The first stamps of Labuan therefore depict the usual profile of Queen Victoria but are unusual for being inscribed in Malay-Arabic (Jawi) and Chinese scripts in addition to "LABUAN POSTAGE". Perennial shortages necessitated a variety of surcharges in between the several reprints and colour changes of the 1880s. The original stamps were engraved, but the last of the design, in April 1894, were done by lithography.

Beginning in May 1894, the designs of North Borneo were printed in different colours, with "LABUAN" either engraved into the vignette or overprinted. On 24 September 1896, the 50th anniversary of the cession was marked by overprinting "1846 / JUBILEE / 1896" on the overprinted North Borneo designs. Additional overprints appeared through the 1890s. In 1899 many types were surcharged with a value of 4 cents.

A last Labuan-only design came out in 1902, depicting a crown and inscribed "LABUAN COLONY". After incorporation into the Straits Settlements in 1906, Labuan ceased issuing its own stamps, although they remained valid for some time. Many of the remainders were cancelled-to-order for sale to collectors and are now worth only pennies; genuine postal uses are worth much more.


A map of Labuan island including the outlying islands.

Labuan's area comprises the main island (Labuan Island – 91.64 square kilometres or 35.38 square miles) and six other smaller islands, Big Rusukan, Burung, Daat, Kuraman, Small Rusukan and Papan island with a total area of 91.64 square kilometres (35.38 square miles). The islands lie 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) off the coast of Borneo, adjacent to the Malaysian state of Sabah and to the north of Brunei Darussalam, on the northern edge of Brunei Bay facing the South China Sea. Labuan Island is mainly flat and undulating; its highest point is Bukit Kubong at 148 metres (486 feet) above sea level. Over 70% of the island is still covered with vegetation. The main town area of Victoria is located in a position facing Brunei Bay.


Labuan has a tropical rainforest climate with no dry season. Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from 25 to 32 °C (77 to 90 °F) and is rarely below 24 °C (75 °F) or above 33 °C (91 °F). The warm season lasts from 1 April to 13 June with an average daily high temperature above 31 °C (88 °F). The hottest day of the year is 29 April, with an average high of 32 °C (90 °F) and low of 26 °C (79 °F). The cold season lasts from 7 January to 17 February with an average daily high temperature below 30 °C (86 °F). The coldest day of the year is 8 September, with an average low of 25 °C (77 °F) and high of 31 °C (88 °F).[35] The weather station for Labuan is located at Labuan Airport.

Thunderstorms are the most severe precipitation observed in Labuan during 60% of those days with precipitation. They are most likely around October, when they occur very frequently. Meanwhile, the relative humidity for Labuan typically ranges from 63% (mildly humid) to 96% (very humid) over the course of the year, rarely dropping below 53% and reaching as high as 100% (extremely humid).[35]

Climate data for Labuan (Labuan Airport) 1961–1990, extremes 1930–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.0
Average high °C (°F) 29.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.8
Average low °C (°F) 24.5
Record low °C (°F) 21.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 233.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 14 10 10 14 17 16 16 16 18 20 20 17 188
Average relative humidity (%) (at 14:00) 73 74 71 70 71 69 69 70 70 72 73 73 71
Mean monthly sunshine hours 202.6 199.8 248.2 250.3 243.1 214.9 220.5 222.3 195.6 206.0 209.7 214.4 2,627.4
Source #1: NOAA,[36] Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, 1939–1966)[37]
Source #2: Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)[38]


Population and religion

Religion in Labuan – 2010 Census[39]
Religion Percent
No religion
Kwang Fook Kong Temple.

According to Malaysia's Department of Statistics, Labuan population for 2010 was at 86,908 and it is projected to be at 91,300 for 2013.[40] In 2015, the population was reported to be at 96,800, surpassing the 2013 estimate.[3] The ethnic composition in 2010 in Labuan was: Brunei Malay and Kedayan (30,001), Kadazan-Dusun (7,380), Bajau (6,300), Murut (701), Chinese (10,014), Indian (641), Other ethnic (19,727) and non-Malaysian citizen (12,144). The majority of Chinese people in Labuan are from the Hokkien dialect group; however, there are also many Hakkas, most of whom are migrants or descendants of migrants from Sabah.

As of 2010 Census the population of Labuan is 76.0% Muslim, 12.4% Christian, 9.0% Buddhist, 0.4% Hindu, 2.1% follower of other religions, and 0.1% non-religious.

Labuan Ethnic Composition (2010)[40]
Ethnic groups Ethnics Total
Bumiputera Brunei Malay & Kedayan 30,001
Kadazan-Dusun 7,380
Bajau 6,300
Murut 701
Other Bumiputeras 18,212
Non-Bumiputeras Chinese 10,014
Indian 641
Others 1,515
Non-citizen 12,144
Total 86,908


Labuan Port.

The economy of Labuan thrives on its vast oil and gas resources and international investment and banking services. Labuan is a very much an import-export oriented economy. Virtually all of its commodities including crude oil, methanol, HBI, gas, flour, animal feed, sea products and ceramic tiles are exported either to Peninsular Malaysia or overseas. Raw materials, parts and equipments for industrial uses well as consumer products are imported. In 2004, the total value of Labuan's external trade reached MYR11.8 billion from only MYR5.0 billion in 1995 for a net trade surplus of MYR5.1 billion. Among its major trade partners are India, Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and South Korea. 65% of its exports are petroleum and gas-based products.[41]

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Labuan is estimated at MYR3.63 billion in 2012 with a growth rate of 5.8 percent. Labuan GDP per capita in 2012 is MYR39,682. The total employment for Labuan is around 39,800 in 2012. The main economic sectors in Labuan is service and manufacturing which contributed 94.6 percent to the island GDP. The service sector consisted mainly of Finance and Insurance and Real Estate and Business Services. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector consists mainly of oil and gas industry and support.[42]

Labuan Financial Park complex.

The Labuan International Business and Financial Centre Labuan IBFC was created as Malaysia's only offshore financial hub in October 1990 and was operating under the name of Labuan International Offshore Financial Centre (IOFC). At the time it was established to strengthen the contribution of financial services to the Gross National Product (GNP) of Malaysia as well as to develop the island and its surrounding vicinity. The jurisdiction, supervised by the Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority or LOFSA, offers benefits such as 3% tax on net audited results or a flat rate of Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) 20,000 to trading companies; low operational costs; liberal exchange controls; and a host of other advantages including readily available, experienced and professional service providers. In 2010 the notion "offshore" was excluded from all the statutes of Labuan due to world pressure on the tax havens and offshores.

Since its inception, the jurisdiction has expanded to become a base for more than 6,500 offshore companies and more than 300 licensed financial institutions including world leading banks. Labuan IBFC is embarking on an aggressive growth strategy to become the premier international business and financial centre in the Asia Pacific region.

Labuan's business focus is on five core areas: offshore holding companies, captive insurance, Shariah-compliant Islamic Finance structures, public and private funds and wealth management. Labuan IBFC’s position is further enhanced by the launch of the Malaysian International Islamic Finance Centre initiative in August 2006.


Labuan is one of the Malaysian federal government territories. The island is administered by the federal government through the Ministry of Federal Territories. Labuan Corporation is the municipal government for the island and is headed by a chairman who is responsible for development and administration of the island. Labuan has one representative in each of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament. Typically, the current member of parliament of Labuan will be appointed to become chairman of Labuan Corporation.

The island is represented in the lower house of parliament by MP Roszman Datuk Haji Isli and in the upper house by Senator Yunus Kurus. Below is the list of administrator of Labuan from 1848 to current date:

Labuan Administration (1848–present)
Year Name Year Name
1848–1852 James Brooke 1848–1850 William Napier
1852–1856 Spenser St. John 1850–1856 John Scott
1856–1861 George Warren Edwards
1861–1866 Jeremiah Thomas Fitzgerald Callaghan
1866–1867 Hugh Low
1867–1871 John Pope Hennessy
1871–1875 Henry Ernest Gascoyne Bulwer
1875–1879 Herbert Taylor Ussher
1879–1881 Charles Cameron Lees
1881–1888 Peter Leys
1888–1890 Arthur Shirley Hamilton
1890–1906 North Borneo Governor
1906–1946 Straits States Governor 1906–1946 British Resident in Brunei
British Resident
1907–19.. M.S.H. McArthur
1917–1918 Geoffrey Edmund Cator
1918–1934 Unknown
1934–1936 A.D. York
1936–1940 Unknown
1940–1942 A.H.P. Humphrey
Japanese Commander
1942–1945 Unknown
1945 Hichiro Okuyama
British Resident
1945–1963 Unknown
Labuan Corporation chairman
2001–2003 Othman Mohd Rijal
2003–2008 Suhaili Abdul Rahman
2008–2011 Ahmad Phesal Talib
2011–2013 Yussof Mahal
2013–present Datuk Rozman Haji Isli

Administrative subdivision

The Federal Territory is administratively subdivided into the capital Bandar Labuan (formerly Victoria) and 27 kampung (administrative villages),[43][44] and which are ruled by appointed Ketua Kampung (headmen):

  1. Bukit Kalam
  2. Durian Tunjung
  3. Tanjung Aru
  4. Pohon Batu
  5. Batu Arang
  6. Patau-Patau 2
  7. Belukut
  8. Sungai Keling
  9. Sungai Bedaun / Sungai Sembilang
  10. Layang-Layangan
  11. Sungai Labu
  12. Pantai
  13. Gersik / Saguking / Jawa / Parit
  14. Sungai Buton
  15. Kilan / Kilan Pulau Akar
  16. Lajau
  17. Rancha-Rancha
  18. Nagalang / Kerupang
  19. Bebuloh
  20. Sungai Lada
  21. Lubok Temiang
  22. Sungai Bangat
  23. Sungai Miri / Pagar
  24. Patau-Patau 1
  25. Batu Manikar
  26. Bukit Kuda
  27. Ganggarak / Merinding


Security is the responsibility of the federal government, with naval patrol vessels, a garrison and an air detachment based on the island. The vigilance of the local Coast Guard and Customs and Excise contribute to the maintenance of Labuan's reputation and status as an international offshore financial centre and free trade zone.

Places of interest

Chimney at the Colliery Fields

There are several attractions and places of interest on Labuan. The Labuan War Cemetery contains various war graves and memorials to the fallen of World War II. This includes British, Australian, Indian, Sarawakian, Bruneian, North Borneo and Empire troops, making it the largest war grave with 3,908 graves of fallen soldiers. A memorial service is held on Remembrance Day once every 4-year.

There is also a memorial celebrating the surrender of the Japanese to the Australian Forces in 1945. There are also remnants of Labuan's history as a Royal Navy coaling station, including the chimney, a well known local landmark. There is also a Labuan Maritime Museum.

Labuan is also the base for diving on four popular wreck dives: the Cement wreck, the American wreck, (the first USS Salute), the Australian wreck and the Blue Water wreck.[45]

Labuan has many schools. However, it has only one international school, Labuan International School.[46] Other places of interest include the Labuan International Sea Sport Complex. Newly proposed is the Marina centre and Labuan Square project which are completed in 2010.

Labuan's own institution of higher education is Universiti Malaysia Sabah Labuan International Campus,[47] a branch of Universiti Malaysia Sabah in Sepanggar Bay, Kota Kinabalu. Labuan also has a matriculation college, Kolej Matrikulasi Labuan, the only matriculation college in East Malaysia. Thus, all pre-university students from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will take their courses here.

Notable residents

See also


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  34. "Labuan Stamps". The Stamps Journal. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
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  44. E-Mail of the Territory Administration to Wikipedia (11 June 2012)
  46. "School". Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  47. "Laman Web Rasmi Universiti Malaysia Sabah Kampus Antarabangsa Labuan". Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  1. An inscription about the new clock tower.

Further reading

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