Semporna is a sleepy, coastal town in the Tawau division of Sabah in East Malaysia, but it is also the gateway to some of the best diving in the world.
Culture and History
The town is shaped by its diverse population of indigenous communities and immigrants. The Bajau Laut, more commonly known as sea gypsies, have a strong presence in Semporna. They and other indigenous communities like the Suluk and Sama-Bajau people who have settled around Semporna for centuries have very close ties to the sea. Their distinctive language, traditions, cuisine and crafts all centre around the water. When Sabah was colonised by various European powers, the area attracted immigrants from various countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and China. As these communities settled in Semporna, they contributed to the town’s cultural diversity, adding their own customs, language and food to the local fabric. The growth of tourism and its proximity to world-famous dive destinations brought economic opportunities and widened cultural exchanges.
Within the Coral Triangle
The surrounding islands of Semporna lie within the Coral Triangle, considered the epicentre of marine biodiversity in the world. Scores of divers flock to the region for its pristine waters, diverse marine life and stunning underwater landscapes.
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