Brunei officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

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Brunei i/bruːˈnaɪ/, officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace[8] (Malay: Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi: نڬارا بروني دارالسلام, Arabic: دولة بروناي، دار السلام‎), is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, it is completely surrounded by the state of Sarawak, Malaysia, and it is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. It is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo, with the remainder of the island belonging to Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei's population was 401,890 in July 2011.[9]

The official national history claims that Brunei can trace its beginnings to the 7th century, when it was a subject state of the Srivijayan empire under the name P'o-li. It later became a vassal state of Majapahit empire before converting to Islam in the 15th century. At the peak of its empire, the sultanate had control that extended over the coastal regions of modern-day Sarawak and Sabah, the Sulu archipelago, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. The thalassocracy was visited by the remnants of the Ferdinand Magellan Expedition in 1521 after Magellan was killed some weeks earlier on 27 April of that year and fought the Castille War in 1578 against Spain. Its empire began to decline with the forced ceding of Sarawak to James Brooke and the ceding of Sabah to the British North Borneo Chartered Company. After the loss of Limbang, Brunei finally became a British protectorate in 1888, receiving a resident in 1906. In the years after the Japanese wartime occupation during World War II, it formalised a constitution and fought an armed rebellion.[10] Brunei regained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984. Economic growth during the 1970s and 1990s, averaging 56% from 1999 to 2008, has transformed Brunei Darussalam into a newly industrialised country.

Brunei has the second highest Human Development Index among the South East Asia nations after Singapore, and is classified as a developed country.[11] According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brunei is ranked 5th in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity. The IMF also states in a 2011 estimate that Brunei was one of two countries (the other being Libya) with their public debt at 0% of the national GDP. Forbes also ranks Brunei as the fifth richest nation out of 182 nations due to its extensive petroleum and natural gas fields.[12]


According to legend, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar. His move from Garang, a place in the Temburong District[13] to the Brunei river estuary led to the discovery of Brunei. According to legend, upon landing he exclaimed "Baru nah!" (loosely translating as "that's it!" or "there"), from which the name Brunei was derived.[14]

It was renamed Barunai in the 14th century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word varuṇ (वरुण), meaning either "ocean" or the mythological "regent of the ocean" ." The word Borneo is of the same origin. In the country's full name Negara Brunei Darussalam, Darussalam (Arabic: دار السلام‎) means "Abode of Peace", while Negara means "country" in Malay.


Early history

In the absence of any other evidence, scholars have created an early history of Brunei that is mainly based on flexible interpretations of Chinese texts. This early part reads: records from the sixth century mention a state called P’o-li on the northwest coast of Borneo.[15] In the seventh century, and Arab accounts state a place called Vijayapura, which was thought to be founded by members of the royal family of Funan.[16] They were believed to have landed on the northwest coast of Borneo with some of their followers. They then captured P’o-li and renamed the territory ‘Vijayapura’ (meaning ‘victory’ in Sanskrit). In 977, records started to use Po-ni instead of Vijayapura to refer to Brunei.[17] In 1225 a official named Chua Ju-Kua reported that Brunei has 100 warships to protect its trade and that there was a lot of gold in the kingdom.[18] Another report in 1280 described Po-ni as controlling large parts of Borneo Island (modern day Sabah and Sarawak, Sulu and some parts of the Philippines. In the fourteenth century, Po-ni became a vassal state of Majapahit, and had to pay an annual payment of 40 katis of camphor. Po-ni was attacked and looted of its treasure and gold by the Sulus in 1369. A fleet from Majapahit succeeded in driving away the Sulus but Po-ni became much weaker after the attack.[19] A report of 1371 described Po-ni as poor and totally controlled by Majapahit.[20]

The power of the Sultanate of Brunei was at its peak between the 15th and 17th centuries, with its power extending from northern Borneo to the southern Philippines.[21]

By the 16th century, Islam was firmly rooted in Brunei, and the country had built one of its biggest mosques. In 1578, Alonso Beltrán, a Spanish traveler described it as being five stories tall and built on the water.[22]

War with Spain and decline

European influence gradually brought an end to the regional power, as Brunei entered a period of decline compounded by internal strife over royal succession. Piracy was also detrimental to the kingdom.[21] Spain declared war in 1578, attacking and capturing Brunei’s capital at the time, Kota Batu. This was achieved as a result in part of the assistance rendered to them by two Bruneian noblemen, Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The former had travelled to Manila to offer Brunei as a tributary of Spain for help to recover the throne usurped by his brother, Saiful Rijal.[23] The Spanish agreed that if they succeeded in conquering Brunei, Pengiran Seri Lela would indeed become the Sultan, while Pengiran Seri Ratna would be the new Bendahara. In March 1578, the Spanish fleet, led by De Sande himself, acting as Capitán-General, started their journey towards Brunei. The expedition consisted of 400 Spaniards, 1,500 Filipino natives and 300 Borneans.[24] The campaign was one of many, which also included action in Mindanao and Sulu.[25][26]

The Spanish succeeded in invading the capital on 16 April 1578, with the help of Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The Sultan Saiful Rijal and Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Abdul Kahar were forced to flee to Meragang then to Jerudong. In Jerudong, they made plans to chase the conquering army away from Brunei. The Spanish suffered heavy losses due to a cholera or dysentery outbreak.[27][28] They were so weakened by the illness that they decided to abandon Brunei to return to Manila on 26 June 1578, after just 72 days. Before doing so, they burned the mosque, a high structure with a five-tier roof.[29]

Pengiran Seri Lela died in August–September 1578, probably from the same illness that had afflicted his Spanish allies, although there was suspicion he could have been poisoned by the ruling Sultan. Seri Lela's daughter left with the Spanish and went on to marry a Christian Tagalog, named Agustín de Legazpi de Tondo.[30]

The local Brunei accounts[15] differ greatly from the generally accepted view of events. The Castilian War entering the national conscience as a heroic episode, with the Spaniards being driven out by Bendahara Sakam, supposedly a brother of the ruling Sultan, and a thousand native warriors. This version, nevertheless, is disputed by most historians and considered a folk-hero recollection, probably created decades or centuries after.[31]

Notwithstanding the retreat, Brunei lost a number of territories to Spain, including the island of Luzon.[32]

A civil war was fought from 1660 to 1673.

British intervention

The decline of the Bruneian Empire culminated in the 19th century, when Brunei lost much of its territory to the White Rajahs of Sarawak, resulting in its current small landmass and separation into two parts.[33] The Treaty of Protection which was negotiated by Sir Hugh Low was signed into effect on 17 September 1888. This enabled Britain control over Brunei’s external affairs. This treaty was signed after Sultan Hashim, the Sultan at that time, appealed to the British to stop partitioning and annexing Brunei, as what James Brooke was doing since 1846.[34] One of the terms in the agreement included that the Sultan “could not cede or lease any territory to foreign powers without British consent.” When James Brooke later annexed the Pandaruan district, however the British did not take any action against him as they regarded James Brooke as not being a foreigner.

The British also attacked Brunei on July 1846 due to disagreement of on who was the rightful Sultan.[35] Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984.[21] British Residents were introduced in Brunei under the Supplementary Protectorate Agreement in 1906.[36] The Residents were to advise the Sultan on all matters of administration. However, the Resident assumed more executive control than the Sultan. The Residential system ended in 1959.[37]

Discovery of oil

Petroleum was discovered in 1929 after several fruitless attempts.[38] Two men, F.F. Marriot and T.G. Cochrane smelled oil near the Seria river in late 1926.[39] They informed a geophysicist who then conducted a survey there. In 1927, gas seepages were reported in the area. Seria Well Number One (S-1) was drilled on 12 July 1928. Oil was struck at 297 meters on 5 April 1929. Seria Well Number 2 was drilled on 19 August 1929 and is still producing oil to this date.[40] Oil production increased considerably in the 1930s. In 1940, oil production was at more than six million barrels.[40] The British Malayan Petroleum Company (now Brunei Shell Petroleum Company) was formed on 22 July 1922.[41]

The first offshore well was drilled in 1957.[42]

Japanese occupation

Brunei was occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945 during World War II. The Japanese landed 10,000 men at Kuala Belait on 16 December 1941. The British in Brunei were easily defeated due to their unpreparedness and the fact that they were outnumbered. After capturing Kuala Belait, the Japanese army moved on to Brunei Town (now Bandar Seri Begawan) and captured it on 22 December 1941, capturing the police headquarters there. Brunei was liberated on 10 June 1945 under Operation Oboe Six.[43][44]

Post World War II

After World War II, a new government was formed in Brunei under the British Military Administration (BMA). It consisted mainly of Australian officers and servicemen.[45] The administration of Brunei was handed over to the Civil Administration on 6 July 1945. The Brunei State Council was also revived that year.[43] The BMA was also tasked to revive the Bruneian economy, which was extensively damaged by the Japanese during their occupation. They were also tasked with putting out the fires started on the wells of Seria, which was started by the Japanese prior to their defeat.[43] Before 1941, the Governor of the Straits Settlements based in Singapore was responsible for the duties of British High Commissioner for Brunei, Sarawak, and North Borneo (now Sabah).[46] The first British High Commissioner for Brunei was the Governor of Sarawak, Sir Charles Ardon Clarke. The Barisan Pemuda (“Youth Movement”) (abbreviated as BARIP) was the first political party to be formed in Brunei. It was formed on 12 April 1946. The aims of the party were to “preserve the sovereignty of the Sultan and the country, and to defend the rights of the Malays.”[47] BARIP also contributed to the formation of the country’s National Anthem. The party was dissolved in 1948 due to inactivity.

In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom.[9] There was a small rebellion against the monarchy in 1962, which was suppressed with help from the United Kingdom. This event became known as the Brunei Revolt and was partly responsible for the failure to create the North Borneo Federation. The rebellion partially affected Brunei's decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation.[9]

Brunei gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984.[9] The official National Day, which celebrates the country's independence, however, is held on 23 February due to tradition.

Writing of the Constitution

In July 1953, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III formed a seven-member committee named Tujuh Serangkai to find out the citizens’ views regarding a written constitution for Brunei. In May 1954, a meeting attended by the Sultan, the Resident and the High Commissioner was held to discuss the findings of the committee. In March 1959 Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III led a delegation to London to discuss the proposed Constitution.[48] The British delegation was led by Sir Alan Lennox-Boyd who was the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The British Government later accepted the draft constitution. On 29 September 1959, the Constitution Agreement was signed in Bandar Seri Begawan. The agreement was signed by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Sir Robert Scott, the Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia. Some of the points of the constitution were:[36]

  • The Sultan was made the Supreme Head of State.
  • Brunei was responsible for its internal administration.
  • The British Government was now responsible for foreign and defence affairs only.
  • The post of Resident was abolished and replaced by a British High Commissioner.

Five councils were also set up:[49]

  • The Executive Council
  • The Legislative Council of Brunei
  • The Privy Council
  • The Council Of Succession
  • The State Religious Council

The National Development Plans

A series of National Development Plans were initiated by the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddien III.

The First National Development Plan

The First National Development plan was introduced in 1953.[50] A total sum of B$100 million was approved by the Brunei State Council for the plan. E.R. Bevington from the Colonial Office in Fiji.[51] A $14 million Gas Plant was built under the plan. In 1954, survey and exploration work were undertaken by the Brunei Shell Petroleum on both offshore and onshore fields. By 1956, production reached 114,700 bpd. Developments on education were also made. In 1952, a written policy on education was made.[51] By 1958, expenditure on education totaled at $4 million.[51] Communications were also improved with new roads built and reconstruction works at Berakas Airport being completed at 1954.[52]

The Second National Development Plan

The second National Development Plan was launched in 1962.[52] A major oil and gas field was discovered in 1963, with this discovery, Liquefied Natural Gas became important. Developments in the oil and gas sector has continued actively and oil production has steadily increased since then.[53] The plan also saw an increase of production of meat and eggs. The fishing industry increased its output by 25% throughout the course of the plan. The Muara Deepwater Port was also constructed under the plan. Power requirements were met and studies were made to provide electricity to rural areas.[53] Efforts were made to eradicate malaria, with the help of the World Health Organisation, under the plan. Efforts were successful, bringing the down the cases of malaria from 300 cases in 1953 to only 66 cases in 1959.[54] The death rate was also brought down from 20 per thousand in 1947 to 11.3 per thousand in 1953.[54] This has been attributed to public sanitation and improvement of drainage and the provision of piped pure water to the population.[54]

Politics and government

Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei.

Brunei has a constitutional sultanate. It has a legal system based on English common law, although Islamic shariah law supersedes this in some cases.[21]

The political system in the country is governed by the constitution and the tradition of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, the concept of “Melayu Islam Beraja” (MIB). The three components of MIB cover Malay culture, Islamic religion and the political framework under the monarchy.[55]

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers which are renewed every two years, since 1962. The Sultan's role is enshrined in the national ideology known as Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB), or Malay Muslim Monarchy. The country has been under hypothetical martial law since the Brunei Revolt of 1962.[9] Hassanal Bolkiah is also the state's Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Defence Minister.[56] The Royal family retains a venerated status within the country.[9] The country also has its own parliament.

Foreign relations

Embassy of Brunei in Moscow, Russia.

With its traditional ties with the United Kingdom, it became the 49th member of the Commonwealth immediately on the day of its independence on 1 January 1984.[57] As its first initiatives toward improved regional relations, Brunei joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984, becoming the sixth member.[58] It later joined the United Nations at the 39th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and became a full member on 21 September 1984 as a means to achieve recognition of its sovereignty and full independence from the world community.[59] As it is an Islamic country, Brunei Darussalam became a full member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) in January 1984 at the Fourth Islamic Summit held in Morocco.[60]

After its accession to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in 1989, Brunei hosted the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November 2000 and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2002.[61] As for other economic ties, Brunei Darussalam became an original member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since it came into force in 1 January 1995,[62] and is a major player in BIMP-EAGA which was formed during the Inaugural Ministers’ Meeting in Davao, Philippines on 24 March 1994.[63]

Brunei is recognized by every nation in the world. It shares a close relationship particularly with the Philippines and other nations such as Singapore. In April 2009, Brunei and the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that seeks to strengthen the bilateral cooperation of the two countries in the fields of agriculture and farm-related trade and investments.[64]

Brunei is one of many nations to lay claim to some of the disputed Spratly Islands.[65] The status of Limbang as part of Sarawak was disputed by Brunei since the area was first annexed in 1890.[66] The issue was reportedly settled in 2009, with Brunei agreeing to accept the border in exchange for Malaysia giving up claims to oil fields in Bruneian waters.[67] The government, however, denies this and says that their claim on Limbang was never dropped.[68][69]


Brunei is divided into four districts (daerah):[70]

The district of Temburong is physically separated from the rest of Brunei by part of Sarawak State (Malaysia). The districts are subdivided into 38 mukims.[9]

Rank Mukim Population Town/Suburb/Town District
1 Sengkurong 62,400 Jerudong and Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
2 Gadong A & Gadong B 59,610 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
3 Berakas A 57,500 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
4 Kuala Belait 35,500 Kuala Belait Belait
5 Seria 32,900 Seria Town (Pekan Seria) Belait
6 Berakas B 23,400 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
7 Sungai Liang 18,100 None Belait
8 Pengkalan Batu approx. 15,000 None Brunei-Muara
9 Kilanas approx. 14,000 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
10 Kota Batu 12,600 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
11 Pekan Tutong 12,100 Pekan Tutong Tutong
12 Mentiri 10,872 None Brunei-Muara
13 Serasa approx. 10,000 Muara Town (Pekan Muara) Brunei-Muara
14 Kianggeh 8,540 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
15 Burong Pinggai Ayer approx. 8,200 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
16 Keriam 8,000 None Tutong
17 Lumapas 7,458 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
18 Kiudang 7,000 None Tutong
19 Saba approx. 6,600 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara
20 Sungai Kedayan approx. 6,000 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-Muara


Topographic map of Brunei

Brunei is a southeast Asian country consisting of two unconnected parts with the total area of 5,765 square kilometres (2,226 sq mi). It has 161 kilometres (100 mi) of coastline next to the South China sea, and it shares a 381 km (237 mi) border with Malaysia. It has 500 square kilometres (193 sq mi) of territorial waters, and an 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.[21]

About 97% of the population lives in the larger western part (Belait, Tutong, and Brunei-Muara), while only about 10,000 people live in the mountainous eastern part (Temburong District). The total population of Brunei is approximately 408,000 as of July 2010[update], of which around 150,000 live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.[71] Other major towns are the port town of Muara, the oil producing town of Seria and its neighboring town, Kuala Belait. In Belait District, the Panaga area is home to large numbers of expatriates due to Royal Dutch Shell and British Army housing and several recreational facilities are located there.[72]

Most of Brunei is within the Borneo lowland rain forests ecoregion that covers most of the island but there are areas of mountain rain forests inland.[73]

The climate of Brunei is tropical equatorial.[21] The average annual temperature is 26.1 °C (79.0 °F), with the April–May average of 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) and the October–December average of 23.8 °C (74.8 °F).[74]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean maximum (°C) 25.8 24.8 27.2 27.1 27.5 27.1 28.4 28.3 28.0 26.5 24.4 24.0 28.3
Mean minimum (°C) 22.1 22.0 22.5 23.9 23.9 24.7 24.1 24.3 25.3 23.1 22.2 23.6 26.2
Average rainfall (mm) 277.7 138.3 113.0 200.3 239.0 214.2 228.8 215.8 257.7 319.9 329.4 343.5 2873.9


This small, wealthy economy is a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition.[75]

Crude oil and natural gas production account for about 90% of its GDP.[9] About 167,000 barrels of oil are produced every day, making Brunei the fourth largest producer of oil in South-east Asia.[9] It also produces approximately 895 million cubic feet of liquified natural gas per day, making Brunei the ninth-largest exporter of the substance in the world.[9]

Substantial income from overseas investment supplements with income from domestic production. Most of these investments are made by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Ministry of Finance.[9] The government provides for all medical services[76] and subsidizes rice[77] and housing.[9] The national air carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines, is trying to make Brunei a modest hub for international travel between Europe and Australia/New Zealand. Central to this strategy is the position that the airline maintains at London Heathrow Airport. It holds a daily slot at the highly capacity-controlled airport, which it serves from Bandar Seri Begawan via Dubai. The airline also has services to major Asian destinations including Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore and Manila.

Brunei depends heavily on imports such as agricultural products (e.g. rice, food products, livestock, etc.),[78] motorcars and electrical products from other countries.[79] Brunei Darussalam imports 60% of its food requirements, which around 75% of those food imports come from the ASEAN countries.[78]

Brunei's leaders are very concerned that steadily increased integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion although it became a more prominent player by serving as chairman for the 2000 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Stated plans for the future include upgrading the labour force, reducing unemployment, which currently stands at 6%,[80] strengthening the banking and tourism sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base.[81]

To achieve its target for food self-sufficiency, Brunei renamed its Brunei Darussalam Rice 1 to Laila Rice during the launch of the "Padi Planting Towards Achieving Self-Sufficiency of Rice Production in Brunei Darussalam" ceremony at the Wasan padi fields in April 2009.[82] In August 2009, the Royal Family reaped the first few Laila padi stalks, after years of multiple attempts to boost local rice production, a goal which was envisioned about half a century ago.[83] In July 2009 Brunei launched its national halal branding scheme, Brunei Halal, with an aim to export to foreign markets.[84]

Human rights


May 2010, the Sultan appointed the first female Deputy Minister.[86]

The law stipulates imprisonment of up to 30 years and caning with not fewer than 12 strokes for rape. The law does not criminalize spousal rape; it explicitly states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, as long as she is not under 13 years of age, is not rape. Protections against sexual assault by a spouse are provided under the amended Islamic Family Law Order 2010 and Married Women Act Order 2010, and the penalty for breaching a protection order is a fine not exceeding BN$2,000 ($1,538) or imprisonment not exceeding six months. During the year 23 rape cases were reported; at year's end police were investigating 11 and had forwarded 10 to the Attorney General Chambers.

There is no specific domestic violence law, but arrests have been made in domestic violence cases under the Women and Girls Protection Act. The police investigate domestic violence only in response to a report by a victim. The police were generally responsive in the investigation of such cases. During the year there were a total of 62 cases of spousal dispute abuse reported; at year's end 55 cases were under investigation, and eight had been forwarded to the Attorney General Chambers. The criminal penalty for a minor domestic assault is one to two weeks in jail and a fine. An assault resulting in serious injury is punishable by caning and a longer prison sentence.

A special unit staffed by female officers existed within the police department to investigate domestic abuse and child abuse complaints. A hotline was available for persons to report domestic violence. The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sport's Department of Community Development provided counseling for women and their spouses. Based on individual circumstances, some female and minor victims were placed in protective custody while waiting for their cases to be brought to court.

Islamic courts staffed by male and female officials offered counseling to married couples in domestic violence cases. Officials did not encourage wives to reconcile with flagrantly abusive spouses, and Islamic courts recognized assault as grounds for divorce.

The law prohibits sexual harassment and stipulates that whoever assaults or uses criminal force, intending thereby to outrage or knowing it is likely to outrage the modesty of a person, shall be punished with imprisonment for as much as five years and caning.

Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children and have access to contraceptive devices and methods through the government and private clinics. According to information gathered by the UN, in 2008 the maternal mortality rate was an estimated 21 deaths per 100,000 live births. Citizens enjoy free medical and health care, including skilled attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric and postpartum care. Women had equal access to diagnostic and treatment facilities for sexually transmitted diseases. Women had equal access to HIV treatment and counseling, as well as follow-up treatment.

In accordance with the government's interpretation of Qur'anic precepts, Muslim women have rights similar to those of Muslim men in areas such as divorce and child custody. Islamic law requires that males receive twice the inheritance of women. Civil law permits female citizens to pass their nationality on to their children and to own property and other assets, including business properties.

Unlike in previous years, women with permanent positions in the government could apply for travel allowances for their children; however, they could not do so for their husbands working in the private sector. With this exception, they received the same allowance privileges as their college-educated counterparts. According to government statistics, women made up 57 percent of the civil service force and held 28 percent of senior management posts. Women are not discriminated against in access to employment and business.


Citizenship is derived through one's parents rather than through birth within the country's territory. Parents with stateless status are required to apply for a special pass for a child born in the country; failure to register a child made it difficult to enroll the child in school.

By law sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years of age constitutes rape and is punishable by imprisonment for not less than eight years and not more than 30 years and not less than 12 strokes of the cane. The law protects women, girls, and boys from exploitation through prostitution and "other immoral purposes," including pornography.


Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque at night.

The population of Brunei in July 2011 was 401,890 of which 76% live in urban areas. The average life expectancy is 76.37 years.[87] In 2004, 66.3% of the population were Malay, 11.2% are , 3.4% are Indigenous, with smaller groups making up the rest.[21]

The official language of Brunei is Malay. There are calls to expand the use of the language in Brunei.[88] The principal spoken language is Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay). Brunei Malay is rather divergent from standard Malay and the rest of the Malay dialects, being about 84% cognate with standard Malay,[89] and is mostly mutually unintelligible with it.[90] and are also widely spoken[91][92] and there is a relatively large expatriate community.[93] Bahasa Rojak, often spoken by the public and on some popular radio shows, is known as a "mixed language" and considered by some to be detrimental to normal Malay.[94] Other languages spoken include Kedayan, Tutong, Murut, Dusun and Iban.[89]

Islam is the official religion of Brunei,[21] and two-thirds of the population adheres to Islam. Other faiths practiced are Buddhism (13%, mainly by the ) and Christianity (10%).[21] Freethinkers, mostly , form about 7% of the population. Although most of them practice some form of religion with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, they prefer to present themselves as having professed no religion officially, hence regarded as atheists in official censuses. Followers of indigenous religions are about 2% of the population.[95]


Royal Regalie Museum

The culture of Brunei is predominantly Malay (reflecting its ethnicity), with heavy influences from Islam, but is seen as more conservative than Malaysia.[96]

Brunei's culture is mainly derived from the Old Malay World, which encompassed the Malay Archipelago and from this stemmed what is known as the Malay Civilisation. Based on historical facts, various cultural elements and foreign civilisations had a hand in influencing the culture of this country. Thus, the influence of culture can be traced to four dominating periods of animism, Hinduism, Islam and the West. However, it was Islam that managed to wind its roots deeply into the culture of Brunei hence it became a way of life and adopted as the state's ideology and philosophy.[97]

As a Sharia country, the sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned.[98] Non-Muslims are allowed to bring in a limited amount of alcohol from their point of embarkation overseas for their own private consumption.[55]


Media in Brunei are extremely pro-government. The country has been given "Not Free" status by Freedom House; press criticism of the government and monarchy is rare.[99] Nonetheless, the press is not overtly hostile toward alternative viewpoints and is not restricted to publishing only articles regarding the government. The government allowed a printing and publishing company, Brunei Press PLC, to form in 1953. The company continues to print the daily Borneo Bulletin. This paper began as a weekly community paper and became a daily in 1990[55] Apart from The Borneo Bulletin, there is also the Media Permata, the local Malay newspaper which is circulated daily. The Brunei Times is another independent newspaper published in Brunei Darussalam since 2006.[100]

The Brunei government owns and operates six television channels with the introduction of digital TV using DVB-T (RTB 1, RTB 2, RTB 3 (HD), RTB 4, RTB 5 and RTB New Media (Game portal) and five radio stations (National FM, Pilihan FM, Nur Islam FM, Harmony FM and Pelangi FM). A private company has made cable television available (Astro-Kristal) as well as one private radio station, Kristal FM.[55] It also has an online campus radio station, UBD FM that streams from the its first university, Universiti Brunei Darussalam'[101]


Brunei maintains three infantry battalions stationed around the country.[9] The Brunei navy has several "Ijtihad"-class patrol boats purchased from a German manufacturer . The United Kingdom also maintains a base in Seria, the center of the oil industry in Brunei. A Gurkha battalion consisting of 1500 personnel is stationed there.[9] United Kingdom military personnel are stationed there under a defence agreement signed between the two countries.[9]

A Bell 212 operated by the air force crashed in Kuala Belait on 20 July 2012 with the loss of 12 of the 14 crew on board.[102] The cause of the accident has yet to be ascertained.[103] The crash is the worst aviation incident in the history of Brunei.


Brunei International Airport

The population centres in the country are linked by a network of 2,800 kilometres of road. The 135 km highway from Muara Town to Kuala Belait is being upgraded to a dual carriageway.[55]

Brunei is accessible by air, sea and land transport. Brunei International Airport is the main entry point to the country. Royal Brunei Airlines[104] is the national carrier. There is another airfield, the Anduki Airfield, located in Seria. The ferry terminal at Muara services regular connections to Labuan (Malaysia). Speedboats provide passenger and goods transportation to the Temburong district.[105] The main highway running across Brunei is the Tutong-Muara Highway. The country's road network is well developed. Brunei has one main sea port located at Muara.[9]

With one private car for every 2.09 persons, Brunei Darussalam has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world. This has been attributed to the absence of a comprehensive transport system, low import tax and low unleaded petrol price of B$0.53 per litre.[55]


Healthcare in Brunei is charged at B$1 per consultation for citizens.[106] A health center run by Brunei Shell Petroleum is located in Panaga. For medical assistance not available in the country, citizens are sent overseas at the government's expense.[106]

The largest hospital in Brunei is Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS) hospital, which has 538 beds,[106] is situated in the country's capital Bandar Seri Begawan. There are two private medical centres, Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd .[107] and Jerudong Park Medical Centre. The Health Promotion Centre opened in November 2008 and serves to educate the public on the importance of having a healthy lifestyle.[108]

There is currently no medical school in Brunei, and Bruneians wishing to study to become doctors must attend university overseas. However, the Institute of Medicines had been introduced at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and a new building has been built for the faculty. The building, including research lab facilities, was completed in 2009. There has been a School of Nursing since 1951.[109] 58 nurse managers were appointed in RIPAS to improve service and provide better medical care.[110] In December 2008, The nursing college merged with the Institute of Medicines at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam to produce more nurses and midwives.[111] It is now called the PAPRSB (Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa'datul Bolkiah) Institute of Health Sciences.[112]

Notes and references

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  8. Haggett, Peter (ed). Encyclopedia of World Geography, Volume 1, Marshall Cavendish, 2001, p. 2913. Available on Google Books.
  9. "Background Note: Brunei". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  10. Pocock, Tom (1973). Fighting General – The Public &Private Campaigns of General Sir Walter Walker (First ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-211295-7.
  11. "Human Development Reports". United Nations. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  12. "Forbes ranks Brunei fifth richest nation". 25 February 2012.
  13. Curriculum Development Department (2008). History for Brunei Darussalam:Sharing Our Past. Section 2.2: EPB Pan Pacific. p. 26. ISBN 99917-2-545-8.
  14. "Treasuring Brunei's past". Southeast Asian Archaeology. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  15. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 41
  16. Saunders 2002, pp. 20
  17. Saunders 2002, pp. 21
  18. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 43
  19. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 44
  20. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 45
  21. Brunei. CIA World Factbook. 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  22. Nicholl 1975, pp. 47–51[citation not found]
  23. Melo Alip 1964, p. 201,317
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  26. "Letter from Francisco de Sande to Felipe II, 1578". Retrieved 17 October 2009.
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  28. Atiyah 2002, p. 71
  29. Saunders 2002, pp. 54–60
  30. Saunders 2002, p. 57
  31. Saunders 2002, pp. 57–58
  32. Oxford Business Group 2009, p. 9
  33. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 58
  34. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 3
  35. History for Brunei Darussalam. pp. 52.
  36. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 59
  37. History for Brunei 2009, pp. 67
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More information

Airports1 (2012)
Borders WithMalaysia
Coastline161 km
Coordinates4 30 N, 114 40 E
Ethnic GroupMalay 66.3%
Ethnic GroupChinese 11.2%
Ethnic Groupindigenous 3.4%
Ethnic Groupother 19.1% (2004 est.)
Female Life Expectancy78.75 years (2012 est.)
Female Median Age28.9 years (2012 est.)
Fertility Rate1.85 children born/woman (2012 est.)
GDP$21.03 billion (2011 est.)
GDP$20.58 billion (2010 est.)
GDP$20.06 billion (2009 est.)
GDP Growth2.2% (2011 est.)
GDP Growth2.6% (2010 est.)
GDP Growth-1.8% (2009 est.)
Government typeconstitutional sultanate (locally known as Malay Islamic Monarchy)
Highest PointBukit Pagon 1,850 m
Land Area5,265 sq km
Land boundary381 km
LanguageMalay (official)
LocationSoutheastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia
Lowest PointSouth China Sea 0 m
Male Life Expectancy74.09 years
Male Median Age28.5 years
Population Growth1.691% (2012 est.)
RegionSoutheastern Asia
Roadways2,971 km
Terrainflat coastal plain rises to mountains in east; hilly lowland in west
Total Area5,765 sq km
Total Life Expectancy76.37 years
Total Median Age28.7 years
Water Area500 sq km
Waterways209 km (navigable by craft drawing less than 1.2 m; the Belait, Brunei, and Tutong rivers are major transport links) (2012)


Neighboring countries

Important people