Aerial view of the entrance to Cowie Bay. In the background Sebatik Island. In the foreground, next to the sea, Tawau Town. Taken from aeroplane, heading west
|Country||Malaysia and Indonesia|
|• Total||25,000 Malaysian
Sebatik Island lies between Tawau Bay (Teluk Tawau) to the north and Sebuku Bay (Teluk Sebuku) to the south. The town of Tawau lies in Sabah just to the north. The island is bisected at roughly 4° 10' North by the Indonesia-Malaysia border - the northern part belongs to Sabah, Malaysia (Sebatik Malaysia) while the southern part belongs to North Kalimantan (previously East Kalimantan), Indonesia (Sebatik Indonesia).
Sebatik Malaysia has a population estimated to be approximately 25,000; there are approximately 80,000 people in Sebatik Indonesia.
The demarcated international border between Malaysia and Indonesia stops at the eastern edge of Sebatik Island, so that the ownership of Unarang Rock and the maritime area located to the east of Sebatik is unclear. This is one of the reasons why the Ambalat region waters and crude oil deposits east of Sebatik Island have been the center of an active maritime dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia since March 2005. The ambiguity of the border at the eastern edge is sometimes attributed as the reason the two nearby islands of Sipadan and Ligitan were determined to be part of Malaysia, rather than Indonesia.
While there are border guards on the island, there is no immigration office, no customs house, no barbed wire fence and no walls demarcating the border. Instead, the only evidence of a border are the concrete piles buried every kilometre from east to west.
Sebatik Island was one of the places in which heavy fighting took place between Indonesian troops and Malaysian troops during the 1963 Indonesia Malaysia Confrontation.
The North Borneo Timbers company operated a logging concession on the island until the 1980s and its mostly expatriate employees lived in a self-contained community in Wallace Bay. Sebatik Malaysia is within the administrative division of Tawau. For electoral purposes, Sebatik falls within the parliamentary constituency of Kalabakan and the state assembly district of Sebatik.
Sitangkai Indonesia (at its closest points) is approximately 175 kilometres (109 mi) to Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines, the second closest point between the two countries after the Miangas island in North Sulawesi.
- "ISLAND DIRECTORY". UN System-wide Earthwatch Web Site.
- Sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan (Indonesia/Malaysia), DA Colson - American Journal of International Law, 2003]
- Sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan (Indonesia/Malaysia), DA Colson - American Journal of International Law, 2003
- Tawu City Website, article: Universiti Malaysia Sabah will set up a base station at Sebatik Island to facilitate studies on sea mammals in the surrounding waters here.
- Ambalat: A Spatial Perspective, by I. Made Andi Arsana of The School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, The University of New South Wales, 2005.
- Blog 2005
- See distance calculator at www.daftlogic.com