From the earliest times, Labuan has had various cultural and religious influences with an illustrious history under the rule of various empires.


1500s – 1800s
After the fall of the Majapahit Empire in the early 16th century, Labuan came under the rule of the Brunei Sultanate.

Early 1840s
Labuan catches the eye of the British, who were scouting for a new naval base location to protect their regional interests and for operations against piracy.

1846
Labuan was officially ceded to the British by Raja Muda Hashim, uncle of the Sultan of Brunei on 18 December 1846.

1848
Labuan was made a crown colony and free port. The island’s first administrative system was established with Sir James Brooke, the first White Rajah of Sarawak, appointed as the first Governor of Labuan. Other notable appointments included Sir Hugh Low, who made the first documented ascent of Mount Kinabalu, as Colonial Secretary.

1849
The Eastern Archipelago Company undertook the first coal mining operations on the island. Immigrant Chinese labourers were imported from Hong Kong to work the coal mines. The North Borneo Chartered Company eventually took over the mines, which closed in 1911 due to flooding.

1852
A railway line, one of the country’s first, was built to transport coal from Tanjung Kubong coal mine to Victoria (Bandar Labuan) Port along McArthur Road (known today as Jalan Tun Mustapha).

1890
The administration of Labuan was handed over to the British North Borneo Company, also known as the North Borneo Chartered Company.

1904
Labuan was reverted to a crown colony. In 1906, it was suggested that the island be included as part of the Straits Settlement.

1907
Labuan was placed under the Straits Settlement administration headed by Sir Arthur Henderson Young G.C.M.G.

1942
The Japanese Imperial Army invaded the region and ruled a large part of Borneo for several years. Labuan was renamed Pulau Maida (Maeda-shima) after General Maida, the chief commander of the Japanese forces in Borneo eventually perished in an air crash on the way to Labuan.

1945
On 10 June 1945, a convoy of 100 Allied ships landed in Labuan. An attack was launched by the Australian Army’s 9th Division resulting in the surrender of the Japanese.

On 9 September 1945, General Masao Baba, Commander of the 37th Japanese Army, formally signed a letter of surrender at Surrender Point in Layang-Layangan beach before Major General George F. Wootten, Commander of the Australian Army’s 9th Division.

1946
Labuan was again placed under the control of the North Borneo British Crown Colony (now known as Sabah) and was governed by Sir Edward Twining, a member of the Twinings tea family.

1947
Labuan Town Board was formed to administer the island.

1956
The free port status of Labuan was reinstated, making it a duty-free island.

1963
On 16 September 1963 Labuan together with Sabah and Sarawak became independent and joined Malaysia.

1984
The Government of Sabah ceded Labuan to Malaysia’s federal government, who proclaimed the island a Federal Territory of Malaysia on 16 April 1984.


1990s to present

1990
The island was declared an International Offshore Financial Centre on 1 October 1990. Initially, there were only 6 banks, 5 legal firms and 8 accounting firms established on the island.

1996
The regulator of the jurisdiction, then known as Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority came into being.

2008
In January, Labuan was repositioned and renamed Labuan International Business and Finanial Centre as part of a rebranding exercise.

2010
New legislation enacted renaming the regulator as Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA).

Today, Labuan is surging ahead. It is progressing well in its development as a financial hub and an upcoming tourist destination. The island stands to progress further as its vast potentials are gradually discovered and revealed.