The burning of Gaya Island in 1878 by Pangeran Mat Salleh and the proposed construction of a railway line from Weston to Gantisan (a new administration center to replace Gaya Island) has contributed to the discovery of a small fishing village. The village, known to the local as Api-Api, was later named Jesselton after Sir Charles Jessel, Deputy Manager for British North Borneo Company. The name Jesselton was subsequently changed into Kota Kinabalu on the 30th September 1968.
Kota Kinabalu covers an area of 349.65 km sq. comprising of Jalan Gaya, Jalan Pantai (also known as Old kota Kinabalu), Segama, Sinsuran, Kampung Air, Bandaran Berjaya, SEDCO Complex, Asia City, Api-Api Centre, Sadong Jaya and Karamunsing. Other towns comprise of Telipok, Menggatal, Inanam, Kepayan, Luyang, Tanjung Aru and Petagas.
Kota Kinabalu, the gateway to Sabah, a land known for its natural beauty and cultural heritage is just a footstep away from all wonders and excitement. Sandy white beaches at Tanjung Aru, beautiful gardens at Prince Philip Park and Taman Tun Fuad are situated within Kota Kinabalu. The five islands (Pulau Mamutik, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Sulug, Pulau Sapi and Pulau Gaya), a wildlife sanctuary for the preservation of coral reef and tropical fish is a few minutes boat ride from Kota Kinabalu. For those who prefer the river, then the Kionsom Waterfall will be a good alternative. Even the ever famous Mount Kinabalu is just a couple of hours drive from the State Capital.
The rich cultural heritage of the 83 ethnic groups in Sabah and harmony between provides kota Kinabalu with an asset comparable to none.