General issues: British colony 1879-1890, North Borneo Company administration 1890-1904
Country name on general issues: Labuan
Currency: 1 (Straits-)Dollar = 100 Cent 1879-1904
Population: 5 900 in 1901
Political history Labuan
Labuan is an island located in the South China Sea in southeastern Asia. Labuan is, in 1846, ceded by the sultan of Brunei to the British to serve as a naval base in the fight against piracy in the South China Sea. Labuan, subsequently, becomes a British colony in 1848. From 1890 until 1904, Labuan is administered by the North Borneo Company, a chartered company that also administers the neighboring British North Borneo. In 1904, Labuan is attached to the Straits Settlements and thus, is administered from Singapore.
Labuan is, during WWII, occupied by Japan and made part of the Japanese administrative area of North Borneo. After WWII, Labuan is under British military administration in 1945-1946 and next attached to British North Borneo. With North Borneo, Labuan, in 1963, joins the Malaysian Federation as part of the federal state of Sabah. In 1984, Labuan is separated from Sabah to become a federal territory to facilitate the most important activity on Labuan, which is off shore banking.
Postal history Labuan
The first post office on Labuan is opened in 1864. Stamps of British India and Hong Kong are initially used and, as of 1867, the stamps of the Straits Settlements. In 1879, the first stamps are issued for Labuan. When Labuan is administered by the North Borneo Company, stamps continue to be issued for Labuan, these being, from 1894, stamps of North Borneo overprinted ‘Labuan’. From 1904, when Labuan is attached to the Straits Settlements, the issues of the Straits Settlements are used. During the occupation by Japan in WWII, the issues for the Japanese administrative area of North Borneo are used, these being overprints on stamps of Brunei, British North Borneo and Sarawak and, in 1943, two sets of definitives of Japanese design.Japanese overprints are known to exist on stamps of the Straits Settlements used in Labuan. Michel states that the status of these issues is not clear and they are not listed in the catalogs. When under British military administration, the stamps issued by the British for all of North Borneo – including Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak – are also used on Labuan, these being stamps of British North Borneo overprinted ‘BMA'‘British Military Administration’. From 1946, the stamps of British North Borneo are used, these to be superseded by the stamps of the Malaysian Federation, including the regional stamps issued for Sabah. When Labuan becomes a federal territory, the regional issues for the federal territories are used in addition to the general issues of the Malaysian Federation.