Labuan is the main island of the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan. Labuan is best known as an offshore financial centre and a tourist destination for nearby Bruneians and scuba divers. The name Labuan derives from the Malay word labuhan meaning anchorage.
Labuan was a part of the Brunei Sultanate.
In 1840 the British used the previously-uninhabited island as a base for operations against piracy and later as a station for the submarine cable between Singapore and Hong Kong. The Sultan of Brunei ceded Labuan to Britain in 1846, and the island became a Crown Colony in 1848. It was made a part of North Borneo on 1 January 1890, then on 30 October 1906 joined to the Straits Settlements. The first White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke was appointed commander-in-chief and Governor of the new territory.
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 island was retaken by Australian forces in Operation Oboe Six, in June 1945. 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.
Labuan has many schools. However, it has only one international school, Labuan International School. Other places of interest to visit such as Labuan International Sea Sport Complex at Jalan Tg. Purun.Newly proposed places is the Marina centre and Labuan Square project which is expected to be completed in next two years from 2008.
A post office was operating in Labuan by 1864, and used a circular date stamp as postmark. The postage stamps of India and Hong Kong were used on some mail, but they were probably carried there by individuals, instead of being on sale in Labuan. Mail was routed through Singapore. From 1867 Labuan officially used the postage stamps of the Straits Settlements, then issued its own beginning in May 1879.
The first stamps of Labuan depict the usual profile of Queen Victoria, but are unusual for being inscribed in Arabic and Chinese scripts in addition to "LABUAN POSTAGE". Perennial shortages necessitated a variety of surcharges in between the several reprints and color changes of the 1880s. The original stamps were engraved, but the last of the design, in April 1894, were done by lithography.
Beginning in May 1894, the designs of North Borneo were printed in different colors, with "LABUAN" either engraved into the vignette or overprinted. On 24 September 1896, the 50th anniversary of the cession was marked by overprinting "1846 / JUBILEE / 1896" on the overprinted North Borneo designs. Additional overprints appeared through the 1890s. In 1899 many types were surcharged with a value of 4 cents.
A last Labuan-only design came out in 1902, depicting a crown and inscribed "LABUAN COLONY". After the incorporation into the Straits Settlements in 1906, Labuan ceased issuing its own stamps, although they remained valid for some time. Many of the remainders were cancelled to order for sale to collectors, and are now worth only pennies; genuine postal uses are worth much more.