British North Borneo was a British colony that occupied the northern tip of the island of Borneo. It was first claimed from the Sultanate of Sulu by an Austrian diplomat in 1878, but handed over to British representatives in 1881; the territory became a British protectorate in 1886 to prevent other colonial claims from being made in the region. Later the British would also include neighbouring Sarawak in their colonial empire although these two regions remained distinct administrative entities. Coinage was issued by the British North Borneo Company for use there, from 1885 until 1941, when British North Borneo was invaded and occupied by the Japanese in WWII. Following liberation in 1946, the territory was transferred from the company to the Crown, and it later became independent as part of Malaysia in 1963 as the province of Sabah .