[broo-nahy, -ney]
Brunei or Brunei Darussalam, officially State of Brunei Darussalam, sultanate (2005 est. pop. 372,400), 2,226 sq mi (5,765 sq km), NW Borneo, on the South China Sea. Its two sections, separated by Brunei Bay, are surrounded by Sarawak, Malaysia. The capital and major port of Brunei is Bandar Seri Begawan (formerly Brunei; 1991 est. pop. 46,229).

Land and People

The mountains in the nation's east give way to a flat coastal plain; western Brunei consists of hilly lowlands. The tropical climate is typically hot and humid with frequent rain. About two thirds of the population are Malays, but the Chinese community, consisting of about 15% of the people, dominates the economy. Some 6% of the people are of indigenous descent. Malay is the official language, but English and Chinese are also spoken. Islam is the predominant and official religion; there are minorities of Buddhists, Christians, and those holding traditional beliefs.


Crude oil and liquefied natural gas are Brunei's main exports and the country's economic mainstays; petroleum products are also produced. The government is attempting to promote economic diversification; clothing is manufactured, and there are banking, tourism, and construction industries. Rice, vegetables, and fruits are grown, and chickens, water buffalo, cattle, and goats are raised. Forests are strictly protected, and timber cutting is allowed only for local use. Brunei imports machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and chemicals. The main trading partners are Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Korea.


Brunei is a constitutional sultanate governed under the constitution of 1959, although some provisions have been suspended. The sultan is both head of state and head of government. The unicameral legislature consists of the 29-member Legislative Council, whose members are appointed by the sultan. Administratively, the country is divided into four districts.


A native sultanate was established at Brunei in the 15th cent. At one time the sultan controlled nearly all of Borneo, but by the 19th cent. his power had declined and Brunei had become a haven for pirates. In 1888 the British established a protectorate over Brunei, administered by a British resident, although the sultan retained formal authority. The Japanese overran the area during World War II.

In 1959 a written constitution went into effect. Under it, the sultanate remained and the protectorate was governed by a chief minister, council of ministers, and elected legislative body. Following elections won by an antimonarchist left-wing party in 1962 and an abortive uprising by the party's military wing, a state of emergency was proclaimed and the legislature disbanded. Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah became sultan in 1967. In 1970 the legislature was made an appointed body. Following the signing of a treaty with the British in 1979, Brunei became fully independent in 1984, and the legislature was suspended the same year. After independence the sultan became an absolute monarch, and oil revenues were used to create a prosperous welfare state.

The 1997-98 Asian economic crisis affected Brunei, which lost billions of dollars in investments. In 1998 the sultan's son, Prince al-Muhtadee Billah, was installed as heir to the throne. After a 20-year hiatus, the sultan convened the appointed legislature in 2004 and signed a constitutional amendment calling for a 45-seat council with 15 elected members. However, the sultan dissolved the legislature in 2005 and appointed a new 29-member council.

Brunei Darussalam, (in English) officially the State of Brunei, Abode of Peace (Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi: برني دارالسلام), is a country 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 in fact it is separated into two parts by Limbang, which is part of Sarawak.

Brunei, the remnant of a very powerful sultanate, regained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984.


The Sultanate of Brunei was very powerful from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Its realm extended over the coastal regions of modern-day Sarawak and Sabah, the Sulu archipelago, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. European influence gradually brought an end to this regional power. Later, there was a brief war with Spain, in which Brunei's capital was occupied. Eventually the sultanate was victorious but lost territories to Spain. The decline of the Bruneian Empire culminated in the nineteenth 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. Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984. Brunei was occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945 during World War II; Britain did not defend Brunei in spite of an Agreement to do so

There was a small rebellion against the monarchy during the 1960s, which was suppressed by 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 also affected Brunei's decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation and was the first stage of the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.

Politics and government

The Sultanate of Brunei was founded when Sharif Ali of Hejadz married the local Brunei princess. He brought Islam and founded many mosques in Brunei. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, whose title has passed within the same dynasty since the fifteenth century, is the head of state and head of government in Brunei. The Sultan is advised by several councils and a cabinet of ministers although he is effectively the supreme ruler. The media is extremely pro-government and the Royal family retains a venerated status within the country. Brunei is an absolute monarchy and the sultan has absolute power. There is no elected legislative body. In September 2004, the Sultan convened an appointed Parliament which had not met since independence in 1984, although it lacks any capacity beyond advising the monarch.

International organisations and Brunei

Brunei is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ASEAN, and Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Press freedom

Brunei has been given "Not Free" status by Freedom House; press criticism of the government and monarchy is rare.

Territorial disputes

Brunei claims territory in Sarawak, such as Limbang, and it is one of many nations to lay claim to the disputed Spratly Islands. Several small islands situated between Brunei and Labuan, including Kuraman island, are contested between Brunei and Malaysia. Limbang is still a disputed territory and is the subject the current negotiation between Brunei and Malaysia.

Districts and mukims

Brunei is divided into four districts (daerah):

The districts are subdivided into thirty-eight mukims.


Brunei Darussalam consists of two unconnected parts with a total area of 5,766 sq. kilometers (2,226 sq. miles). 97% of the population lives in the larger western part, while only about 10,000 live in the mountainous eastern part (the district of Temburong). The total population of Brunei Darussalam is about 400,000 of which around 130,000 live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan. Other major towns are the port town of Muara, the oil producing town of Seria and its neighboring town, Kuala Belait. In the Belait district, the Panaga area is home to large numbers of expatriates due to Royal Dutch Shell and British Army housing and recreational facilities. The well-known Panaga Club is situated here. Jerudong Park, a well known amusement park, is located on the west of Bandar Seri Begawan.


Bandar Seri Begawan has a humid subtropical climate. The average annual temperature is 23.6 °C (74.5 °F), with a summer average of 29.4 °C (84.9 °F) and a winter average of 21.0 °C (69.8 °F).

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average High (°C)
Average Low (°C)
Average Rainfall (mm) 86 135 178 170 231 290 248 305 244 122 66 71


This small, wealthy economy is a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition. Crude oil and natural gas production account for nearly half of its GDP. Substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. The government provides for all medical services and subsidizes rice and housing. Brunei's leaders are 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, strengthening the banking and tourism sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base. The national airline, Royal Brunei, is trying to make Brunei a hub for international travel between Europe and Australia/New Zealand, and also has services to major Asian destinations.


Brunei ensures that all citizens have access to free health care, provided via a group of public hospitals. The largest hospital in Brunei is Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital, also known as RIPAS Hospital.

There is also a private medical sector, Jerudong Park Medical Centre.

As of 2008, no hospitals in Brunei were undergoing international healthcare accreditation.

There is currently no medical school in Brunei, and Bruneians wishing to study to become doctors have to attend universities overseas. This situation may be changing. Also, to ensure the public's access to medical care, qualified doctors from overseas are imported into the country.

A School of Nursing was founded in 1951.


Brunei is accessible via sea and land travel. The main highway running across Brunei is the Pan Borneo Highway, which is a joint project with Malaysia. Besides the Pan Borneo Highway, Brunei can be accessed by air through Brunei International Airport. Royal Brunei is the main airline company in Brunei.

Brunei has several sea ports, mainly to export its petroleum products, as well as for import and export purposes.


  • Malay 66.3%,
  • Chinese 11.2%,
  • indigenous 3.4%,
  • other 19.1% (2004 est.)


66.3% of the Brunei population are of Malay origin and have long dominated the nation's economy, 11.2% are of Chinese origin, 3.4% indigenous and 19.1% other. The official language of the nation is Malay (Malay: Bahasa Melayu), although an important minority speak Chinese. English is also widely spoken and there is a relatively large expatriate community with significant numbers of British and Australian citizens.

Islam is the official religion of Brunei 67%, and the sultan is the head of the religion in the country. Other faiths practised are Buddhism 13% (mainly by the Chinese), 10% Christianity, and primarily in isolated and very small communities, indigenous religions.


The culture of Brunei is predominantly Malay, with heavy influences from Islam, but is seen as more conservative than Malaysia.

The culture is also influenced by the demographics of the country: two-thirds of the population are Malay, and the remainder consists of Chinese, Indians and indigenous Malays.

Brunei also has a large number of foreign workers, including Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers, labourers from Thailand, Indonesia and the Indian subcontinent (particularly India and Bangladesh), and American and British professionals working in industry and education.

Prohibition of alcohol

The sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned. Foreigners and non-Muslims are allowed to bring in 12 cans of beer and two bottles of other alcohol (e.g., wine or spirits; no distinction is made for alcohol content). This limit used to apply to every entry; in 2007, however, this was changed to one limit every 48 hours. After the introduction of prohibition in the early 1990s, all pubs and nightclubs were forced to close; however, several types of restaurants allegedly still offer illicit alcohol sometimes served in teapots.

Bruneian celebrities

  • Mariana Rahim is a female Bruneian star and country rock singer
  • Dale Brown's novel Armageddon is set mostly in Brunei. It details a fictional attack on the country by Islamic fundamentalists with fringe assistance from Malaysian forces, namely a stealth boat.
  • Brunei is the birthplace of current Chicago Blackhawks left winger Craig Adams.
  • Also the birthplace of Wu Chun, present day Bruneian Taiwanese pop-star idol, who is also a gym instructor, model, and member of the band Fahrenheit
  • Weekend Splash concert season 4, the famous idol show in Brunei. The top six people are Christy Rhonda (Canadian), Saleisha Romana (British), Alex Carlton (Australian), Chad Kilson (American), Asyraf Awang Besar (Bruneian), and Jesse Chun (Taiwanese).
  • Zul F is an idol star and TV personality.
  • Asyraf Awang Besar is the third runner up, of the Weekend Splash Concert season 5.
  • Fatin Adilah is the winner of the Weekend Splash concert season 5. She currently lives in Jerudong
  • Amelia is a contestant of the Weekend Splash concert season 5 and also a perfume and fashion designer from Kuala Belait.

See also

Notes and references


  • U.S. Department of State website (2003)
  • L. W. W. Gudgeon, British North Borneo, Adam and Charles Black: London, 1913.

External links

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