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Trip Planner Asia  /  Malaysia  /  Sabah  /  Tawau Division  /  Tawau
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Things to do: shopping, wildlife areas, nature
Tawau formerly known as Tawao, is the third-largest town in Sabah, after Kota Kinabalu City and Sandakan, and lies on the south-eastern coast of Borneo in Malaysia. It is the administrative centre of Tawau Division which is bordered by the Sulu Sea to the east, the Celebes Sea to the south at Cowie Bay and shares a border with East Kalimantan (now North Kalimantan). The town had an estimated population as of 2010 of 113,809, while the whole municipality area had a population of 397,673.Before the founding of Tawau, the region around it was the subject of dispute between the British and Dutch spheres of influence. In 1893, the first British merchant vessel sailed into Tawau, marking the opening of the town's sea port. In 1898, the British set up a settlement in Tawau. The British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBC) accelerated growth of the settlement's population by encouraging the immigration of Chinese. Consequent to the Japanese occupation of North Borneo, the Allied forces bombed the town, in mid-1944, razing it to the ground. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, 2,900 Japanese soldiers in Tawau became prisoners of war and were transferred to Jesselton. Tawau was rebuilt after the war and by the end of 1947 the economy was restored back into its pre-war status. Tawau was also the main point of conflict during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation from 1963 to 1966. During that time, it was garrisoned by the British Special Boats Section, and guarded by Australian Destroyers and combat aircraft. In December 1963, Tawau was bombed twice by Indonesia and shootings occurred across the Tawau-Sebatik Island international border. Indonesians were found trying to poison the town's water supply. In January 1965, a curfew was imposed to prevent Indonesian attackers from making contact with Indonesians living in the town. While in June 1965, another attempted invasion by the Indonesian forces was repelled by bombardment by an Australian Destroyer. Military conflict finally ended in December 1966.
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