Labuan, made up of the main Labuan Island and six smaller islands (Burung Island, Daat Island, Kuraman Island, Papan Island, Rusukan Kecil Island, and Rusukan Besar Island), first became a Crown colony in 1848. In 1890, it came to be administered by the British North Borneo Company. It was reverted to British government rule in 1904. Then, on 30 October 1906, it joined the Straits Settlements and had been administered from Singapore, the capital of the Straits Settlements, until 1912. In 1912, Labuan was made a separate Crown colony again.
During World War II, Labuan was occupied by Japan from December 1941 to June 1945 and governed as part of the Northern Borneo military unit by the Japanese 37th Army. Labuan was renamed Maida Island (Pulau Maida, 前田島 [Maeda-shima]) after Marquis Toshinari Maeda, the first commander of Japanese forces in northern Borneo. The liberation of Borneo began on 10 June 1945 when the Allied Forces under the command of General McArthur landed at Labuan with a convoy of 100 ships. The 9th Australian Division launched an attack supported by massive air and sea bombardments that resulted in the surrender of the Japanese. On 9 September 1945, General Masao Baba, commander of Japanese military, surrendered at the Layang-layang beach before Major General George F. Wooten, commander of Australian 9th Division. Labuan assumed its former name and was under British military administration along with the rest of the Straits Settlements, then joined to British North Borneo, on 15 July 1946, which in turn became a part of Malaysia as the state of Sabah in 1963.
- 1848 Made a Crown colony.
- 1890 Incorporated into the territory of the British North Borneo Company which in 1881 had taken over land previously part of Brunei.
- 1906 The territory of the British North Borneo Company became a Crown colony but Labuan was transferred to the control of the Governor of the Straits Settlements.
- 1907 Labuan annexed to Straits Settlements as part of Singapore.
- 1912 Labuan became a separate Crown colony.
- 1946 Labuan returned to British North Borneo.