is a unique land, a melting pot of many indigenous and immigrant groups. The population of slightly over 1.7 million comprises over 30 different races and over 80 different dialects, each group having its own colourful culture, tradition, festival and customs. The indigenous groups include the Kadazan / Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus, Lotud, Brunei, Orang Sungei, Kadayan, Bisaya and many other subgroups. The Chinese form the largest non-indigenous group. The main groups and their ''adat'' (cultural observances) are highlighted here.
- The largest ethnic group in Sabah, the Kadazans/Dusuns make up about one third of the population, and are found mainly on the West Coast. The Kadazans/Dusuns are prosperous agricultural people and are the main rice producers of Sabah, though now many have gone into different professions. Their system of beliefs revolves around their rice-planting and harvesting with female priestesses called bobohizan presiding over the rituals. The many sub-groups of the Kadazans/Dusuns include the Rungus, Lotud, Tambanuo, Kimarangan, Sanayou, Minok9i and Teneizera.
- The Bajau are skilled fishermen though there are linguistic and cultural differences between those living on the west and east coast. These living on the west coast are predominantly farmers and the Bajau, well known for their skilled horsemanship, have been dubbed ''Cowboys of the East''. They are expert "Horsemen" rearing ponies, buffaloes and cattle as well as being good rice cultivators. One can see them every Sunday at the picturesque Kota Belud "Tamu" as well as on festival occasions resplendent in their colourful costumes riding brightly decorated ponies. Those living on the east coast are mainly sea nomads, coming ashore only to bury their dead. Often called the ''Sea Gypsies'' because of their love for wanderings on the high seas, they were also fearless sailors.
- The Murut live mostly in the South West region of Sabah and in remote parts of the interior residency between the town of Keningau and the borders of Sarawak and Indonesia. Many still live in longhouses and were once feared for r head hunting. Murut weddings are renowned f or their elaborate displays of bridewealth, ancing and feasting. The Muruts were also great hunters, using spears, blowpipes and poisoned darts. Some of the Muruts tribes include the Nabai, Peluan, Bokan, Tagal and Timogun.
Probably the most popular festival in Sabah is the ''Pesta Kaamatan
'' or Harvest Festival celebrated by the Kadazan/Dusun during the month of May. This is a ritualistic celebration greeting the successful harvesting of rice, and it''s a good time to see the Kadazan/Dusun exhibiting traditional performances. Other celebrations include the Hari Raya, celebrated by the Muslim community and the Chinese New Year celebrated by the Chinese