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District and Town
Other transcription(s)
 • Chinese 根地咬
Keningau town centre
Keningau town centre
Flag of Keningau
Official seal of Keningau
Location of Keningau
Keningau is located in Borneo Topography
Coordinates: 5°20′0″N 116°10′0″E / 5.33333°N 116.16667°E / 5.33333; 116.16667
Country  Malaysia
State  Sabah
Division Interior
 • District Officer Yusop Osman
Population (2010)
 • Total 200,985
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC)
Postcode 89xxx0 to 89xxx9
Area code(s) 087
Vehicle registration SU

Keningau (Chinese: 根地咬; pinyin: gēn dì yâo) is a district and town in Interior Division, Sabah, Malaysia. It is the fifth-largest town in Sabah.

Keningau is the oldest and largest town in the interior part of Sabah. Keningau is also located between Tambunan and Tenom. The town has an estimated population of 189,970 while the surrounding municipal area has a total population of 200,985.

It also rumoured that Keningau will become the same status as largest town in Sabah after Sandakan and Tawau as the government currently upgrading the infrastructure of Keningau.[citation needed]

Etymology and History[edit]

The name Keningau is derived from the locally-abundant Javanese cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum burmannii) which is locally known as Koningau. The tree is known as 'Kayu Manis' in Malay, and is sometimes also referred to as the 'king of spices'. The bark of this tree was collected by the British North Borneo Company to be sold as a spice. During the British colonial era, Keningau was one of the most important administrative centres in British North Borneo. The Japanese also used Keningau as one of its main administrative centres during their occupation of North Borneo in World War II.

Keningau Area[edit]

The following towns, suburbs and neighbourhoods comprise the area formally and collectively known as Keningau:


Keningau District covers an area of 3532.82 km² (1364 sq mi). It is situated in a valley bordered by the Crocker Range to the west and the Trus Madi Range to the east and south. The district consists of 43 mukims and 245 villages.[1]


Keningau 1[edit]

The Keningau 1 is south of the Keningau Town. There is a vibrant commercial district with some of historical 'shop-houses' centred.

Keningau 2/New Town[edit]

The so-called New Town, to the North of the Keningau. The New Town houses is located the main new Keningau Hospital. There are numerous shops, shopping malls, and school.

Keningau Handicraft Center (Pusat Kraftangan Keningau), located in the heart of Keningau (New Town), is known for its scenic beauty and recreational facilities. It comprises recreational of traditional art, an artificial of visual art and all traditional things.


Ethnicity and religion[edit]

Keningau's population was estimated in 2010 at 173,103.[2] Of this, 90% are Dusuns and Muruts, 8% are Chinese (of whom most are Hakka Chinese) and the balance is divided between other indigenous Sabahan races and foreign immigrants (both legal and illegal) from the Philippines and Indonesia. The latter group forms a disproportionately large part of the population of Keningau as many of these immigrants come to Keningau to seek employment in the many agricultural plantations in the district.


Apart from their own native languages, the indigenous Sabahan ethnicities present in Keningau mostly speak English, Malay, albeit a distinct Sabahan creole form of it. The ethnic Chinese population speak Hakka and Mandarin (two varieties of Chinese) among themselves, but generally speak Malay when interacting with members of the indigenous races. Most of the Indonesian and Filipino immigrants also speak Malay in addition to their various native languages.

Places of interest[edit]

Keningau Oath Stone[edit]

This monument was erected to commemorate Sabah's entrance into the federation of Malaysia by Garukon Gurun, a former Sergeant Major of the legendary North Borneo Constabulary from Kampung Dangulad Keningau. It was finally unveiled and officiated on 31 August 1964 . On the Stone is a plaque setting out the federal government's promises to the people of Sabah, as well as the reciprocal promise of Sabahans to remain loyal to the federal government. The Stone is currently located in the compound of the Keningau District Office.

Communications and transportation[edit]

A road in Keningau
Dual carriageway in downtown Keningau


Keningau is situated along the following highways:

Public transportation[edit]

Long-distance coaches link Keningau with the cities of Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau. Within the town, public transportation is provided by minibuses and taxis.


The main entrance to Keningau Airport

Keningau Airport (Malay : Lapangan Terbang Keningau) (IATA: KGUICAO: WBKG) was last serviced by commercial flights in the 1970s. It is currently under private ownership.

Public Services[edit]

Courts of law and legal enforcement[edit]

The Keningau court complex is located on Jalan Nyamok (Nyamok Road). It houses the High, Sessions and Magistrates Courts.

The district police headquarters is located on Jalan OKK Sodomon (OKK Sodomon Road). There are police substations or pondok polis (literally 'police huts') in Apin-Apin, Bingkor and Sook.


There are eight public health clinics, one public hospital, one maternal and child health clinic, four village clinics, one mobile clinic and one 1Malaysia clinic in Keningau. The new Keningau Hospital is the main hospital in the Interior Division, and is therefore visited by patients from the surrounding districts of Nabawan, Sook, Tambunan, Tenom and beyond.


The Keningau Regional Library is one of three regional libraries in Sabah, the others being in Sandakan and Tawau. These libraries are operated by the Sabah State Library.


The Keningau Sports Complex has facilities for badminton, tennis, volleyball and basketball as well as two stadiums for hockey and football. There is also a 25m swimming pool. It hosted the fifth Sabah Games in 2011.

Keningau Football Stadium has a capacity of 10,000 capacity. It is the home stadium for KDMM F.C.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Arthur Joseph Kurup JP - Economist
Engineering & Science
  • Dr. Joseph Wilfred Lakai – Chartered professional engineer
  • Daphne Iking – Malaysian TV personality (birthplace and maternal hometown, paternal hometown located in Tambunan)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archived 2 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Total population by ethnic group, administrative district and state, Malaysia, 2010" (PDF). Department of Statistics, Malaysia. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 5°20′N 116°10′E / 5.333°N 116.167°E / 5.333; 116.167