Semporna is a district as well as town located in Tawau Division, in the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia
on the island of Borneo. Its population was estimated to be around 133,164 in 2010.
Semporna was founded soon after the British North Borneo Chartered Company established Sandakan, and initially settled by Chinese traders, most fleeing from Spanish attack on the Sulu Sultanate. Before been named as "Semporna", this area are known as "Tong Talun" in Bajau language which means "Hujung Hutan" in Malay or "At the end of the forest" in English language.Those who responsible for this naming was Panglima Uddang, Panglima Sallehangni and Panglima Sakti from the Bajaus Kubang ancestry.Soon, the name been slowly changed to "Semporna" (known as "Peaceful Place") which later became the permanent name for this place.
Including other parts of eastern Sabah, this area are once been ruled by the Sultanate of Sulu before been handed to the British North Borneo Chartered Company in 1876 through an agreement. Since that, the Sultan has handed this area for forever under the administration of the British. Other western powers including the Dutch have tried to conquer this area in June 1876 but failed as the British have already establishing a present there.
This area also became the main landing point for the Moro Pirates. Very few people lived on the coasts with the reason was not far to seek. Fierce pirates and marauders infested the seas, kidnapping, raiding and killing from time immemorial. Action by Sir James Brooke, and other nearby westerners powers such as the Dutch and Spanish authorities earlier in the century had managed to reduced the power and range of the pirates. Upon the advent of the Chartered Company in the early 1880s, only one pirate stronghold remained, which at Omadal island, and this was cut out and cauterised by HMS Zephyr of the British in 1886.
By mid 1887, an opportune moment had arrived for the opening of a trading station on the southern side of the entrance to Darvel Bay. Pirates having recently destroyed the settlement of Maimbung in Sulu, some of the Chinese merchants there, had asked permission to settle in the Company's territory, under the rule of law and its attendant advantages.
Semporna is also known for the Regatta Lepa traditional boat races which occur annually in April. Semporna was also the location of the finish line of Eco-Challenge: Borneo, held in 2000. Off the coast is a marine park called Tun Sakaran Marine Park also known as Semporna Islands Park. It was gazetted by Sabah Parks in 2004.
Semporna is the gateway to diving paradise in World
-renowned islands like Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking, Sibuan, Mantabuan, Siamil and Pom Pom among others. Visitors to Semporna are mainly sun seekers looking to relax or to take up water sports activities such as scuba diving or snorkelling.