Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms|Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi
: ), 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
, the country is completely surrounded by the Malaysia
. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang
. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island's territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia
. Brunei's population
was in . The government
is an absolute monarchy under the Sultan
, which implements a combination of English common law
and sharia law
, as well as direct general Islamic
At the peak of the Bruneian Empire
, Sultan Bolkiah
(reigned 1485–1528) is alleged to have had control over most regions of Borneo
, including modern-day Sarawak and Sabah
, as well as the Sulu Archipelago
off the northeast tip of Borneo, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. Claims also state that they had control over Seludong
("Kingdom of Maynila" to the local rulers of Maynila; where modern-day Manila
now stands) but Southeast Asian scholars believe this refers to a settlement Mount Selurong in Indonesia.
[Abinales, Patricio N. and Donna J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.]
For political reasons, the historical rulers of Maynila maintained close cognatic ties through intermarriage with the ruling houses of the Sultanate of Brunei
, but Brunei's political influence over Maynila is not considered to have extended to military or political rule.
Intermarriage was a common strategy for large thalassocratic states
(maritime states) such as Brunei to extend their influence, and for local rulers such as those of Maynila to help strengthen their family claims to nobility.
The maritime state of Brunei was visited by Spain's Magellan Expedition
in 1521 and fought against Spain in the 1578 Castilian War
During the 19th century, the Bruneian Empire began to decline. The Sultanate ceded Sarawak (Kuching
) to James Brooke
and installed him as the White Rajah
, and it ceded Sabah to the British North Borneo Chartered Company
. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate
and was assigned a British resident
as colonial manager in 1906. After the Japanese occupation during World War II
, in 1959 a new constitution was written. In 1962, a small armed rebellion
against the monarchy was ended with the help of the British.
Brunei gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984. Economic growth during the 1990s and 2000s, with the GDP increasing 56% from 1999 to 2008, transformed Brunei into an industrialised country. It has developed wealth from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields. Brunei has the second-highest Human Development Index
among the Southeast Asian
nations, after Singapore
, and is classified as a developing country
. According to the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), Brunei is ranked fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity
. The IMF estimated in 2011 that Brunei was one of two countries (the other being Libya
) with a public debt at 0% of the national GDP.
According to local historiography, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar, later to be Sultan Muhammad Shah
, reigning around AD 1400. He moved from Garang in the Temburong
District to the Brunei River
estuary, discovering Brunei. According to legend, upon landing he exclaimed, ''Baru nah'' (loosely translated as "that's it!" or "there"), from which the name "Brunei" was derived. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei. Before the rise of the Bruneian Empire
under the Muslim Bolkiah Dynasty, Brunei is believed to have been under Buddhist rulers.
It was renamed "Barunai" in the 14th century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit
word "'" (), meaning "seafarers".
The word "Borneo
" is of the same origin. In the country's full name, ', ' ( ar|دار السلام) means "abode of peace", while ' means "country" in Malay
The earliest recorded documentation by the West about Brunei is by an Italian known as Ludovico di Varthema
, who also said the "Bruneian people have fairer skin tone than the peoples he met in Maluku Islands
". On his documentation back to 1550;
We arrived at the island of Bornei'' (Brunei or Borneo), ''which is distant from the ''Maluch'' about , and we found that it was somewhat larger than the aforesaid and much lower. The people are pagans and are men of goodwill. Their colour is whiter than that of the other sort ... in this island justice is well administered ...
The settlement known as Vijayapura was a colony to the Buddhist Srivijaya
empire and was thought to be located in Borneo's Northwest which flourished in the 7th Century. In the aftermath of the Indian Chola invasion of Srivijaya
, Datu Puti lead some dissident datus from Sumatra and Borneo in a rebellion against Rajah Makatunao who was a Chola appointed local Rajah. The dissidents and their retinue tried to revive Srivijaya in a new country called Madja-as
in the Visayas islands (an archipelago named after Srivijaya) in the Philippines. One of the earliest Chinese records of an independent kingdom in Borneo is the 977 AD letter to the Chinese emperor from the ruler of Boni, which some scholars believe to refer to Borneo.
In 1225, the Chinese official Zhao Rukuo
reported that Boni had 100 warships to protect its trade, and that there was great wealth in the kingdom.
In the 14th century, the Java
nese manuscript ''Nagarakretagama
'', written by Prapanca
in 1365, mentioned ''Barune'' as the constituent state
of Hindu Majapahit
, which had to make an annual tribute
of 40 katis
. In 1369, Sulu which was also formerly part of Majapahit, had successfully rebelled and then attacked Boni, looting it of treasure and gold. A fleet from Majapahit succeeded in driving away the Sulus, but Boni was left weaker after the attack. A Chinese report from 1371 described Boni as poor and totally controlled by Majapahit.
During the 15th century, Boni had seceded from Majapahit and then converted to Islam. Thus transforming into the independent Sultanate of Brunei. Brunei became a Hashemite
state when she allowed the Arab Emir of Mecca, Sharif Ali
, to become her third sultan. Scholars claim that 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 (Sulu) and even in the northern Philippines (Manila) which Brunei incorporated via territorial acquisition accomplished through royal marriages.
Sultan Bolkiah had extended Brunei's power to its greatest extent when it conquered Manila and Sulu as he even attempted but failed to conquer the Visayas islands even though Sultan Bolkiah was half-Visayan himself being descended from a Visayan mother and he was famously known as Sultan Ragam "The Singing Captain", his powerful musical voice was a trait he inherited from his Visayan lineage since Visayans were culturally obsessed with singing, with the best Visayan singers often also being members of their warrior castes too
. However, Islamic Brunei's power was not uncontested in Borneo since it had a Hindu rival in a state founded by Indians called Kutai
in the south which they overpowered but didn't destroy. Brunei's dominance in the Philippines was also challenged by two Indianized kingdoms, the Rajahanates of Cebu
which were also coincidentally allied with Kutai and were also at war with Brunei's dependencies; Sulu and Manila as well as their mutual ally, the Sultanate of Maguindanao
. The Kedatuans of Madja-as and Dapitan were also belligerent against Brunei due to them being the targets of constant Muslim attacks organized from Maguindanao and Ternate
, a Papuan speaking state in the vicinity of Oceania that grew wealthy by monopolizing spice production. Nevertheless, 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 traveller, described it as being five stories tall and built on the water.
War with Spain and decline
Brunei briefly rose to prominence in Southeast Asia when the Portuguese occupied Malacca
and thereby forced the wealthy and powerful but displaced Muslim refugees there to relocate to nearby Sultanates such as Aceh
and Brunei. However, European influence
gradually brought an end to the regional power
, as Brunei entered a period of decline compounded by internal strife over royal succession. In the face of these invasions by European Christian powers, the Ottoman Caliphate
aided the beleaguered Southeast Asian Sultanates by making Aceh
and sending expeditions to reinforce, train and equip the local mujahideen
. Spain declared war
in 1578, planning to attack and capture Kota Batu
, Brunei's capital at the time. This was based in part on the assistance of two Bruneian noblemen
, Pengiran Seri Lela and Pengiran Seri Ratna. The former had travelled to Manila
, then the centre of the Spanish colony. Manila itself was captured from Brunei, Christianised and made a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain
which was centered in Mexico City. Pengiran Seri Lela came to offer Brunei as a tributary
to Spain for help to recover the throne usurped by his brother, Saiful Rijal. The Spanish agreed that if they succeeded in conquering Brunei, Pengiran Seri Lela would be appointed as the sultan, while Pengiran Seri Ratna would be the new Bendahara
In March 1578, a fresh Spanish fleet had arrived from Mexico and settled at the Philippines, they were led by De Sande
, acting as Capitán-General
, he organised an expedition from Manila for Brunei. The expedition consisted of 400 Spaniards and Mexicans, 1,500 Filipino
natives and 300 Borneans. The campaign was one of many, which also included action in Mindanao
. The racial make-up of the Christian side was diverse since it were usually made up of Mestizos
and Amerindians (Aztecs
) who were gathered and sent from Mexico and were led by Spanish officers who had worked together with native Filipinos in military campaigns across the Southeast Asia. The Muslim side though was also equally racially diverse. In addition to the native Malay warriors, the Ottomans had repeatedly sent military expeditions to nearby Aceh
. The expeditions were composed mainly of Turks
. These expeditionary forces had also spread to other nearby Sultanates such as Brunei and had taught new fighting tactics and techniques on how to forge cannons.
Eventually, the Spanish invaded 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. Suffering high fatalities due to a cholera
outbreak, the Spanish decided to abandon Brunei and returned to Manila on 26 June 1578, after 72 days. Before doing so, they burned the mosque, a high structure with a five-tier roof.
Pengiran Seri Lela died in August or September 1578, probably from the same illness suffered by his Spanish allies. There was suspicion that he the legitimate Sultan could have been poisoned by the ruling sultan. Seri Lela's daughter, a Bruneian princess, "Putri", had left with the Spanish, she abandoned her claim to the crown and then she married a Christian Tagalog
, named Agustín de Legazpi de Tondo.
The local Brunei accounts of the Castilian War differ greatly from the generally accepted view of events. What was called the Castilian War was seen as a heroic episode, with the Spaniards being driven out by Bendahara Sakam, purportedly a brother of the ruling sultan, and a thousand native warriors. Most historians consider this to be a folk-hero
account, which probably developed decades or centuries after.
Brunei eventually descended into anarchy. The country suffered a civil war
from 1660 to 1673.
The British have intervened in the affairs of Brunei on several occasions. Britain attacked Brunei in July 1846 due to internal conflicts over who was the rightful Sultan.
In the 1880s, the decline of the Bruneian Empire
continued. The sultan granted land (now Sarawak) to James Brooke
, who had helped him quell a rebellion and allowed him to establish the Kingdom of Sarawak
. Over time, Brooke and his nephews (who succeeded him) leased or annexed more land. Brunei lost much of its territory to him and his dynasty, known as the White Rajahs
Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin
appealed to the British to stop further encroachment by the Brookes. The "Treaty of Protection" was negotiated by Sir Hugh Low
and signed into effect on 17 September 1888. The treaty said that the sultan "could not cede or lease any territory to foreign powers without British consent"; it provided Britain
effective control over Brunei's external affairs, making it a British protected state
(which continued until 1984).
But, when the Kingdom of Sarawak annexed Brunei's Pandaruan District
in 1890, the British did not take any action to stop it. They did not regard either Brunei or the Kingdom of Sarawak as 'foreign' (per the Treaty of Protection). This final annexation by Sarawak left Brunei with its current small land mass and separation into two parts.
s were introduced in Brunei under the Supplementary Protectorate Agreement in 1906. The residents were to advise the sultan on all matters of administration. Over time, the resident assumed more executive control than the sultan. The residential system ended in 1959.
Discovery of oil
Petroleum was discovered in 1929 after several fruitless attempts. Two men, F. F. Marriot and T. G. Cochrane, smelled oil near the Seria
river in late 1926. They informed a geophysicist
, who 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 on 5 April 1929. Seria Well Number 2 was drilled on 19 August 1929, and, , continues to produce oil. Oil production was increased considerably in the 1930s with the development of more oil fields. In 1940, oil production was at more than six million barrels. The British Malayan Petroleum Company (now Brunei Shell Petroleum
Company) was formed on 22 July 1922. The first offshore well was drilled in 1957. Oil and natural gas have been the basis of Brunei's development and wealth since the late 20th century.
The Japanese invaded Brunei on 16 December 1941, eight days after their attack on Pearl Harbor
and the United States Navy. They landed 10,000 troops of the Kawaguchi Detachment
from Cam Ranh Bay
at Kuala Belait
. After six days' fighting, they occupied the entire country. The only Allied troops in the area were the 2nd Battalion of the 15th Punjab Regiment
based at Kuching
Once the Japanese occupied Brunei, they made an agreement with Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin
over governing the country. Inche Ibrahim (known later as Pehin Datu Perdana Menteri Dato Laila Utama Awang Haji Ibrahim), a former Secretary to the British Resident, Ernest Edgar Pengilly, was appointed Chief Administrative Officer
under the Japanese Governor. The Japanese had proposed that Pengilly retain his position under their administration, but he declined. Both he and other British nationals still in Brunei were interned by the Japanese at Batu Lintang camp
in Sarawak. While the British officials were under Japanese guard, Ibrahim made a point of personally shaking each one by the hand and wishing him well.
The Sultan retained his throne and was given a pension and honours by the Japanese. During the later part of the occupation, he resided at Tantuya, Limbang
and had little to do with the Japanese. Most of the Malay government officers were retained by the Japanese. Brunei's administration was reorganised into five prefectures, which included British North Borneo
. The Prefectures included Baram
, and Limbang
. Ibrahim hid numerous significant government documents from the Japanese during the occupation. Pengiran Yusuf (later YAM Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusuf
), along with other Bruneians, was sent to Japan for training. Although in the area the day of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
, Yusuf survived.
The British had anticipated a Japanese attack, but lacked the resources to defend the area because of their engagement in the war in Europe. The troops from the Punjab Regiment filled in the Seria
oilfield oilwells with concrete in September 1941 to deny the Japanese their use. The remaining equipment and installations were destroyed when the Japanese invaded Malaya
. By the end of the war, 16 wells at Miri
and Seria had been restarted, with production reaching about half the pre-war level. Coal production at Muara
was also recommenced, but with little success.
During the occupation, the Japanese had their language taught in schools, and Government officers were required to learn Japanese. The local currency was replaced by what was to become known as ''duit pisang'' (banana money)
. From 1943 hyper-inflation destroyed the currency's value and, at the end of the war, this currency was worthless. Allied attacks on shipping eventually caused trade to cease. Food and medicine fell into short supply, and the population suffered famine and disease.
runway was constructed by the Japanese during the occupation, and in 1943 Japanese naval units were based in Brunei Bay
and Labuan. The naval base was destroyed by Allied bombing, but the airport runway survived. The facility was developed as a public airport. In 1944 the Allies began a bombing campaign against the occupying Japanese, which destroyed much of the town and Kuala Belait, but missed Kampong Ayer
On 10 June 1945, the Australian 9th Division
landed at Muara under Operation Oboe Six
to recapture Borneo from the Japanese. They were supported by American air and naval units. Brunei town was bombed extensively and recaptured after three days of heavy fighting. Many buildings were destroyed, including the Mosque. The Japanese forces in Brunei, Borneo, and Sarawak, under Lieutenant-General Masao Baba, formally surrendered at Labuan on 10 September 1945. The British Military Administration took over from the Japanese and remained until July 1946.
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. The administration of Brunei was passed to the Civil Administration on 6 July 1945. The Brunei State Council was also revived that year. The BMA was tasked to revive the Bruneian economy, which was extensively damaged by the Japanese during their occupation. They also had to put out the fires on the wells of Seria, which had been set by the Japanese prior to their defeat.
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
). 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, on 12 April 1946. The party intended to "preserve the sovereignty of the Sultan and the country, and to defend the rights of the Malays
BARIP also contributed to the composition 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 defence remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom.
A small rebellion
erupted against the monarchy in 1962, which was suppressed with help of the UK. Known as the Brunei Revolt
, it contributed to the failure to create the North Borneo Federation
. The rebellion partially affected Brunei's decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation.
Brunei gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984.
The official National Day, which celebrates the country's independence, is held by tradition on 23 February.
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, the Sultan, Resident and High Commissioner met to discuss the findings of the committee. They agreed to authorise the drafting of a constitution. In March 1959, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III led a delegation to London to discuss the proposed Constitution. The British delegation was led by Sir Alan Lennox-Boyd
, Secretary of State for the Colonies. The British Government later accepted the draft constitution.
On 29 September 1959, the Constitution Agreement was signed in Brunei Town
. The agreement was signed by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Sir Robert Scott, the Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia.
It included the following provisions:
* The Sultan was made the Supreme Head of State.
* Brunei was responsible for its internal administration.
* The British Government was responsible for foreign and defence affairs only.
* The post of Resident was abolished and replaced by a British High Commissioner.
Five councils were set up:
* The Executive Council
* The Legislative Council of Brunei
* The Privy Council
* The Council of Succession
* The State Religious Council
National development plans
A series of National Development Plans was initiated by the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddien III
The first was introduced in 1953. 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
, was appointed to implement it. A $US14 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
The plan also aided the development of public education. By 1958, expenditure on education totalled at $4 million. Communications were improved, as new roads were built and reconstruction at Berakas Airport was completed in 1954.
The second National Development Plan was launched in 1962. 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 have continued, and oil production has steadily increased since then. The plan also promoted the production of meat and eggs for consumption by citizens. The fishing industry increased its output by 25% throughout the course of the plan. The deepwater port
was also constructed during this period. Power requirements were met, and studies were made to provide electricity to rural areas. Efforts were made to eradicate malaria
, an endemic disease in the region, with the help of the World Health Organization
. Malaria cases were reduced from 300 cases in 1953 to only 66 cases in 1959.
The death rate was reduced from 20 per thousand in 1947 to 11.3 per thousand in 1953.
Infectious disease has been prevented by public sanitation and improvement of drainage, and the provision of piped pure water to the population.
On 14 November 1971, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
left for London to discuss matters regarding the amendments to the 1959 constitution. A new agreement was signed on 23 November 1971 with the British representative being Anthony Royle
Under this agreement, the following terms were agreed upon:
* Brunei was granted full internal self-government
* The UK would still be responsible for external affairs and defence.
* Brunei and the UK agreed to share the responsibility for security and defence.
This agreement also caused Gurkha units
to be deployed in Brunei, where they remain up to this day.
On 7 January 1979, another treaty was signed between Brunei and the United Kingdom
. It was signed with Lord Goronwy-Roberts being the representative of the UK. This agreement granted Brunei to take over international responsibilities as an independent nation. Britain agreed to assist Brunei in diplomatic matters. In May 1983, it was announced by the UK that the date of independence of Brunei would be 1 January 1984.
On 31 December 1983, a mass gathering was held on main mosques on all four of the districts of the country and at midnight, on 1 January 1984, the Proclamation of Independence was read by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The sultan subsequently assumed the title "His Majesty
", rather than the previous "His Royal Highness
". Brunei was admitted to the United Nations
on 22 September 1984, becoming the organisation's 159th member.
In October 2013, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced his intention to impose Penal Code
from the Sharia law
on the country's Muslims, which make up roughly two thirds of the country's population. This would be implemented in three phases, culminating in 2016, and making Brunei the first and only country in East Asia to introduce Sharia law into its penal code. The move attracted international criticism,
the United Nations expressing "deep concern".
Brunei is a southeast Asian country consisting of two unconnected parts with a total area of on the island of Borneo. It has of coastline next to the South China Sea
, and it shares a border with Malaysia. It has of territorial waters, and a exclusive economic zone
About 97% of the population lives in the larger western part (Belait
, 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 , of which around 150,000 live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan
. Other major towns are the port town of Muara
, the oil-producing town of Seria
and its neighbouring town, Kuala Belait
. In Belait District, the Panaga
area is home to large numbers of Europeans expatriates, due to Royal Dutch Shell
and British Army housing, and several recreational facilities are located there.
Most of Brunei is within the Borneo lowland rain forests
ecoregion, which covers most of the island. Areas of mountain rain forests
are located inland.
The climate of Brunei
equatorial that is a Tropical rainforest climate
more subject to the Intertropical Convergence Zone
than the trade wind
s and with no or rare cyclone
s. Brunei is exposed to the risks stemming from climate change along with other ASEAN member states.
Politics and government
Brunei's political system is governed by the constitution and the national tradition of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (''Melayu Islam Beraja
''; MIB). The three components of MIB cover Malay culture, Islamic religion, and the political framework under the monarchy.
It has a legal system based on English common law
, although Islamic law (''shariah
'') supersedes this in some cases.
Brunei has a parliament
but there are no elections; the last election was held in 1962
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. Since 1962
, this authority has included emergency powers, which are renewed every two years. Brunei has technically been under martial law
since the Brunei Revolt
also serves as the state's Prime Minister, Finance Minister
and Defence Minister
. The Royal family retains a venerated status within Brunei.
Until 1979, Brunei's foreign relations were managed by the UK government. After that, they were handled by the Brunei Diplomatic Service. After independence in 1984, this Service was upgraded to ministerial level and is now known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Officially, Brunei's foreign policy is as follows:
* Mutual respect of others' territorial sovereignty, integrity and independence;
* The maintenance of friendly relations among nations;
* Non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries; and
* The maintenance and the promotion of peace, security and stability in the region.
With its traditional ties with the United Kingdom, Brunei became the 49th member of the Commonwealth
immediately on the day of its independence on 1 January 1984. As one of its first initiatives toward improved regional relations, Brunei joined ASEAN
on 7 January 1984, becoming the sixth member. To achieve recognition of its sovereignty and independence, it joined the United Nations
as a full member on 21 September of that same year.
As an Islamic country, Brunei 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
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.
Brunei became a founding member of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) on 1 January 1995,
and is a major player in BIMP-EAGA
, which was formed during the Inaugural Ministers' Meeting in Davao
, on 24 March 1994.
Brunei shares a close relationship with Singapore
and the Philippines. In April 2009, Brunei and the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) that seeks to strengthen the bilateral co-operation of the two countries in the fields of agriculture and farm-related trade and investments.
Brunei is one of many nations to lay claim to some of the disputed Spratly Islands
The status of Limbang
as part of Sarawak has been disputed by Brunei since the area was first annexed in 1890.
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.
The Brunei government denies this and says that their claim on Limbang was never dropped.
Brunei was the chair for ASEAN
in 2013. It also hosted the ASEAN summit on that same year.
Brunei maintains three infantry battalions stationed around the country.
The Brunei navy
has several "Ijtihad"-class patrol boats purchased from a German manufacturer. The United Kingdom also maintains a base in Seria
, the centre of the oil industry in Brunei. A Gurkha
battalion consisting of 1,500 personnel is stationed there.
United Kingdom military personnel are stationed there under a defence agreement signed between the two countries.
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. The cause of the accident has yet to be ascertained. The crash is the worst aviation incident in the history of Brunei.
The Army is currently acquiring new equipment, including UAV
s and S-70i Black Hawks
Brunei's Legislative Council proposed an increase of the defence budget for the 2016–17 fiscal year of about five percent to 564 million Brunei dollars ($408 million). This amounts to about ten per cent of the state's total national yearly expenditure and represents around 2.5 per cent of GDP.
Brunei is divided into four districts (''daerah
s'') and 38 subdistricts (''mukim
The daerah of Temburong is physically separated from the rest of Brunei by the Malaysia
n state of Sarawak
The daerah of Brunei-Muara includes Brunei's capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan
, whose suburbs dominate 15 of the 18 mukims in this daerah.
Over 90% of Brunei's total population lives in 15 of the 38 mukims:
Brunei has numerous courts in its judicial branch. The highest court is the Supreme Court, which consists of the Court of Appeal and High Court. Both of these have a chief justice and two judges.
Women and children
The U.S. Department of State has stated that discrimination against women is a problem in Brunei.
[2010 Human Rights Report: Brunei Darussalam](_blank)
US Department of State
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
. The law stipulates imprisonment of up to 30 years, and caning with not fewer than 12 strokes for rape. The law does not criminalise 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. The penalty for breaching a protection order is a fine not exceeding BN$2,000 ($1,538) or imprisonment not exceeding six months.
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 may make 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 intent of the law is to protect girls from exploitation through prostitution and "other immoral purposes", including pornography.
Male and female homosexuality
is illegal in Brunei
. Sexual relations between men are punishable by death or whipping; sex between women is punishable by caning or imprisonment.
In May 2019, the Brunei government extended its existing moratorium on the death penalty to the Sharia criminal code as well that made homosexual acts punishable with death by stoning.
In The Laws of Brunei, the right of non-Muslims to practice their faith is guaranteed by the 1959 Constitution
. However, celebrations and prayers must be confined to places of worship and private residences. Upon adopting Sharia Penal Code, the Ministry of Religious Affairs banned Christmas
decorations in public places, but did not forbid celebration of Christmas in places of worship and private premises. The international media reports of a “Christmas ban” which spread in 2014 in Brunei were exaggerated, failing to mention that celebrations continue within churches and among the different Christian communities.
On 25 December 2015, 4,000 out of 18,000 estimated local Catholics attended the mass of Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
[Christians celebrate X'mas in Brunei | The Brunei Times](_blank)
In 2015, the head of the Catholic Church in Brunei told The Brunei Times
, "To be quite honest there has been no change for us this year; no new restrictions have been laid down, although we fully respect and adhere to the existing regulations that our celebrations and worship be onfined
to the compounds of the church and private residences".
Brunei's revised penal code came into force in phases, commencing on 22 April 2014 with offences punishable by fines or imprisonment.
The complete code, due for final implementation later, stipulated the death penalty
for numerous offenses (both violent and non-violent), such as insult or defamation of Muhammad
, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy
, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, robbery, rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, and murder. Stoning to death was the specified "method of execution for crimes of a sexual nature". Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) declared that, "Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law."
Brunei is the first country in Asia to have banned shark finning
Brunei has retained most of its forests, compared to its neighbours that share Borneo
island. There is a public campaign calling to protect pangolin
s which are considered threatened treasure in Brunei.
Brunei has the second-highest Human Development Index
among the Southeast Asian
nations, after Singapore
, and is classified as a developed country
. Crude oil
and natural gas production account for about 90% of its GDP.
About of oil are produced every day, making Brunei the fourth-largest producer of oil in Southeast Asia.
It also produces approximately of liquified natural gas
per day, making Brunei the ninth-largest gas exporter in the world.
'' also ranks Brunei as the fifth-richest nation out of 182, based on its petroleum and natural gas fields.
Substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. Most of these investments are made by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Ministry of Finance.
The government provides for all medical services, and subsidises rice and housing.
The national air carrier
, Royal Brunei Airlines
, is trying to develop Brunei as a 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.),
vehicles and electrical products
from other countries. Brunei imports 60% of its food; of that amount, around 75% come from other ASEAN countries.
Brunei's leaders are concerned that increasing integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion
and have therefore pursued an isolationist policy. However, it has become a more prominent player by serving as chairman for the 2000 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) forum. Brunei's leaders plan to upgrade the labour
force, reduce unemployment, which was at 6.9% in 2014; strengthen the banking and tourism sectors, and, in general, broaden the economic base. A long-term development plan aims to diversify growth.
The government of Brunei has also promoted food self-sufficiency, especially in rice
. Brunei renamed its Brunei Darussalam Rice 1 as 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. In August 2009, the Royal Family reaped the first few Laila padi stalks, after years of attempts to boost local rice production, a goal first articulated about half a century ago. In July 2009 Brunei launched its national halal
branding scheme, Brunei Halal, with a goal to export to foreign markets.
The population centres in the country are linked by a network of of road. The highway from Muara Town to Kuala Belait is a dual carriageway
Brunei is accessible by air, sea, and land transport. Brunei International Airport
is the main entry point to the country. Royal Brunei Airlines
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. 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.
The airport in Brunei is currently being extensively upgraded. Changi Airport International is the consultant working on this modernisation, which planned cost is currently $150 million.
This project is slated to add of new floorspace and includes a new terminal and arrival hall.
With the completion of this project, the annual passenger capacity of the airport is expected to double from 1.5 to 3 million.
With one private car for every 2.09 persons, Brunei 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.
A new roadway connecting the Muara and Temburong
districts of Brunei is slated to be completed in 2019. Fourteen kilometres (9 mi) of this roadway would be crossing the Brunei Bay
. The bridge cost is $1.6 billion.
Bank of China
received permission to open a branch in Brunei in April 2016. Citibank
, which entered in 1972, closed its operations in Brunei in 2014. HSBC
, which had entered in 1947, closed its operation in Brunei in November 2017.
May Bank of Malaysia, RHB Bank of Malaysia, Standard Chartered Bank of United Kingdom, United Overseas Bank of Singapore and Bank of China are currently operating in Brunei.
Ethnicities indigenous to Brunei include the Belait
, Brunei Bisaya
(not to be confused with the Bisaya/Visaya of the nearby Philippines), indigenous Bruneian Malay
, Lun Bawang
The population of Brunei in was , of which 76% live in urban areas. The rate of urbanisation is estimated at 2.13% per year from 2010 to 2015. The average life expectancy is 77.7 years. In 2014, 65.7% of the population were Malay
, 10.3% are Chinese
, 3.4% are indigenous, with 20.6% smaller groups making up the rest.
There is a relatively large expatriate
Most expats come from non-Muslim
countries such as Australia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan, The Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and India.
is the official religion of Brunei,
specifically that of the Sunni
denomination and the Shafi‘i
school of Islamic jurisprudence. More than 80% of the population, including the majority of Bruneian Malays
identify as Muslim
. Other faiths practised are Buddhism
(7%, mainly by the Chinese) and Christianity
, mostly Chinese, form about 7% of the population. Although most of them practise some form of religion with elements of Buddhism, Confucianism
, and Taoism
, they prefer to present themselves as having practised no religion officially, hence labelled as atheists
in official censuses. Followers of indigenous religions are about 2% of the population.
The official language of Brunei
is Standard Malay
, for which both the Latin alphabet
) and the Arabic alphabet
) are used. Initially, Malay was written in Jawi script
before it was switched in to Latin alphabet around 1941.
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,
[P.W. Martin and G. Poedjosoedarmo (1996). An overview of the language situation in Brunei Darussalam. In P.W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds.), ''Language use & language change in Brunei Darussalam'' (pp. 1–23). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. p. 7.]
and is mostly mutually unintelligible with it.
is widely used as a business and official language and it is spoken by a majority of the population in Brunei. English is used in business as a working language
and as the language of instruction from primary to tertiary education.
Chinese languages are also widely spoken, and the Chinese minority
in Brunei speak a number of varieties of Chinese
is the religious language of Muslims. Therefore, Arabic is taught in schools, particularly religious schools, and also in institutes of higher learning. As of 2004, there are six Arabic schools and one religious teachers' college in Brunei. A majority of Brunei's Muslim population has had some form of formal or informal education in the reading, writing and pronunciation of the Arabic language as part of their religious education.
Other languages and dialects spoken include Kedayan Malay
dialect, Tutong Malay dialect
, and Dusun
The culture of Brunei is predominantly Malay
(reflecting its ethnicity), with heavy influences from Islam
, but is seen as much more conservative than Indonesia
. Influences to Bruneian culture come from the Malay cultures of the Malay Archipelago
. Four periods of cultural influence have occurred, animist, Hindu
, Islamic, and Western. Islam had a very strong influence, and was adopted as Brunei's ideology and philosophy. Brunei's official main language is Malay
but English is also widely spoken as it is a compulsory subject in the majority of the schools.
As a Sharia
country, the sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned.
[Brunei Tourism Website (Government appointed)](_blank)
Non-Muslims are allowed to bring in a limited amount of alcohol from their point of embarkation overseas for their own private consumption.
Media in Brunei are said to be pro-government; press criticism of the government and monarchy is rare. The country ranks "Not Free" in media by Freedom House
. 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 English daily ''Borneo Bulletin
''. This paper began as a weekly community paper and became a daily in 1990
Apart from The ''Borneo Bulletin'', there is also the ''Media Permata
'' and Pelita Brunei, the local Malay newspapers which are circulated daily. ''The Brunei Times
'' is another English independent newspaper published in Brunei since 2006.
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.
It also has an online campus radio station, ''UBD FM
'' that streams from its first university, Universiti Brunei Darussalam
The most popular sport in Brunei is association football
. The Brunei national football team
in 1969, but has not had much success. The top two football leagues are the Brunei Super League
and the Brunei Premier League
Brunei debuted at the Olympics
in 1996; it has competed at all subsequent Summer Olympics
except 2008. The country has competed in badminton, shooting, swimming, and track-and-field, but is yet to win any medals. Brunei has had slightly more success at the Asian Games
, winning four bronze medals. The first major international sporting event to be hosted in Brunei was the 1999 Southeast Asian Games
. According to the all-time Southeast Asian Games medal table
, Bruneian athletes have won a total of 14 gold, 55 silver and 163 bronze medals at the games.
*List of Brunei-related topics
* Outline of Brunei
Prime Minister's Office of Brunei Darussalam
''The World Factbook
''. Central Intelligence Agency
from the BBC News
at ''Encyclopædia Britannica
Key Development Forecasts for Brunei
from International Futures
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