One of the 13 states of Malaysia, it is located in the north-eastern part of Kalimantan. In the XIX century, it was part of the British colonial empire. When deciding on the issue of the decolonization of Sabah, a project of its accession to the Malay Federation (a state established on the neighboring peninsula of Malacca) was implemented. In 1963, Sabah, as well as Sarawak joined the future state of Malaysia by signing an agreement that gave them some preferences in comparison with the rest of Malay states.
The preferences were mainly based on the specificity of the ethnic composition of Sabah. Since the indigenous population did not speak Malay and, unlike Muslim Malays, professed Christianity or traditional beliefs, the state received the right to use English as its official language and was not subject to the principle that Islam is the official religion. At the same time, the agreement stipulated that the indigenous population of Sabah received the equal rights as the main population of the country, the Malays (bumiputra status).
Among the several indigenous peoples of Sabah, Kadazan-Dusun is the largest one, though their share decreased substantively in the last 40 years from 32 to 18% due to migration. The Malays make up only about 6%. Other ethnic groups include Bajo, Murut, Dayaki among others. Usually, they are localized in specific parts of the state (coastal areas, islands, mountains).
The principle of power-sharing is of particular importance for Sabah's relations with the central government. It is implemented via the National Front, an alliance of ethnic parties, which, along with the national Malayan parties, comprises the party organizations of the other two leading country's ethnic segments (Chinese and Indians), as well as ethnic Sabah and Sarawak parties. This configuration of power provides Sabah with a permanent presence in the central government. Also, a similar model operates at the state level. In general, this allows maintaining a balance in inter-ethnic relations. However, the problem of the distribution of oil revenues remains an acute problem in the relationships between the province and the center, since Sabah (along with Sarawak) is the major area of oil production in the country.