State of Brunei, the Abode of Peace
Negara Brunei Darussalam
نڬارا بروني دارالسلام
Flag Crest
Motto: "الدائمون المحسنون بالهدى" "Sentiasa membuat kebajikan dengan petunjuk Allah"
"Always in service with God's guidance"  (translation)
Anthem: Allah Peliharakan Sultan
God Bless the Sultan

Location of  Brunei  (red)[Legend]
Location of  Brunei  (red)


(and largest city)
Bandar Seri Begawan
4°53.417′N 114°56.533′E / 4.890283°N 114.942217°E / 4.890283; 114.942217
Official language(s) Bahasa Melayu (Malay)[1][2]
Official scripts Malay alphabet,
Jawi alphabet[3]
Demonym Bruneian
Government Unitary Islamic sultanate
 -  Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
 -  Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah
 -  Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah
 -  Sultanate 14th century 
 -  British protectorate 1888 
 -  Independence 1 January 1984 
 -  Total 5,765 km2 (172nd)
2,226 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 8.6
 -  2011 estimate 401,890[4] (174th)
 -  2001 census 332,844 
 -  Density 67.3/km2 (134th)
174.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $20.382 billion[5] (122nd)
 -  Per capita $48,891[5] (8th)
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $13.022 billion[5] (116th)
 -  Per capita $31,238[5] (26th)
HDI (2010) increase 0.805[6] (very high) (37th)
Currency Brunei dollar (BND)
Time zone (UTC+8)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code BN
Internet TLD .bn
Calling code +6731
1 Also 080 from East Malaysia

Brunei Listeni/brˈn/, officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace[7] (Malay: Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi: نڬارا بروني دارالسلام), 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 in fact it is separated into two parts by Limbang, which is part of Sarawak. 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 is around 400,000 (July 2010).

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 Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 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 wartime occupation, it formalised a constitution and fought an armed rebellion.[8] 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.[9] According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brunei is ranked 4th in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.[10]



According to legend, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar. His move from Garang, a place in the Temburong District[11] 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.[12]

It was renamed Barunai in the 14th century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word varuṇai (वरुणै), meaning "seafarers", later to become Brunei. 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. Negara derives from the Sanskrit nagara (नगर), meaning "city".[citation needed]


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.[4] The efforts of the Brunei Sultans in spreading Islam helped to spread the religion not only in Borneo but also as far north as to the southern Philippines islands. When Malacca fell to the Portuguese in 1511, it was Brunei that played a major role in the spread of Islam in the region.[citation needed]

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.[13] Most likely it had five layers of roofs to represent the Five Pillars of Islam. This mosque was destroyed by the Spanish in June that same year.

European influence gradually brought an end to this regional power, as Brunei entered a period of decline compounded by internal strife over royal succession. Piracy was also detrimental to the kingdom.[4] 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, including the island of Luzon. 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.[citation needed] Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984,[4] and occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.

There was a small rebellion against the monarchy during the 1960s, 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.

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.[4]

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.[14]

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, 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. The Royal family retains a venerated status within the country.

Foreign relations

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.[15] As its first initiatives toward improved regional relations, Brunei joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984, becoming the sixth member.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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,[20] and is a major player in BIMP-EAGA which was formed during the Inaugural Ministers’ Meeting in Davao, Philippines on 24 March 1994.[21]

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.[22]

Brunei is one of many nations to lay claim to some of the disputed Spratly Islands.[23] The status of Limbang as part of Sarawak was disputed by Brunei since the area was first annexed in 1890.[24] The issue was reportedly settled in 2009, with Brunei agreeing to accept the border in exchange for Malaysias giving up claims to oil fields in Bruneian waters.[25]


Districts of Brunei

Brunei is divided into four districts (daerah):

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.

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. 15,000 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


The 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 nm exclusive economic zone.[4]

77% of the population lives in the eastern part of Brunei, while only about 10,000 live in the mountainous south eastern part (the district of Temburong). The total population of Brunei Darussalam is approximately 408,000 (July 2010) of which around 150,000 live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.[26] 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.

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.

The climate of Brunei is tropical equatorial.[4] 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).[27]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean Maximum (°C)
Mean Minimum (°C)
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


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. 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 is increasingly importing from other countries.

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, strengthening the banking and tourism sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base.

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.[28] 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.[29] In July 2009 Brunei launched its national halal branding scheme, Brunei Halal, with an aim to export to foreign markets.[30]


The population of Brunei in July 2011 was 401,890 of which 76% live in urban areas. The average life expectancy is 76.17 years. In 2004, 66.3% of the population were Malay, 11.2% are Chinese, 3.4% are Indigenous, with smaller groups making up the rest.[4]

The official language of Brunei is Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay), the official standardized form of the Malay language used in Brunei. Brunei Malay is quite divergent from standard Malay and the rest of the Malay dialects and is mostly mutually unintelligible.[1] English and Chinese are also spoken.[31] Bahasa Rojak, often spoken by the media and the public, is known as a "mixed language" and considered detrimental to normal Malay.[32] Other languages spoken include Kedayan, Tutong, Murut, Dusun and Iban.[31] English is also widely spoken[33] and there is a relatively large expatriate community with significant numbers of British and Australian citizens.

Islam is the official religion of Brunei,[4] and the sultan is the head of the religion in the country.[citation needed] Two-thirds of the population adheres to Islam. Other faiths practiced are Buddhism (13%, mainly by the Chinese) and Christianity (10%).[4] Freethinkers, mostly Chinese, 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.

All Brunei citizens have access to free health care from public hospitals. The largest hospital in Brunei is Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS) hospital situated in the country's capital Bandar Seri Begawan. There are two private medical centres, Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd .[34] and Jerudong Park Medical Centre. As of 2008, no hospitals in Brunei were undergoing international healthcare accreditation.[citation needed] The Health Promotion Centre opened in November 2008 and serves to educate the public on the importance of having a healthy lifestyle.[35]

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.[36] 58 nurse managers were appointed in RIPAS to improve service and provide better medical care.[37] In December 2008, The nursing college merged with the Institute of Medicines at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam to produce more nurses and midwives.[38] It is now called the PAPRSB (Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa'datul Bolkiah) Institute of Health Sciences.[39]


The culture of Brunei is predominantly Malay (reflecting its ethnicity), with heavy influences from Islam, but is seen as more conservative than Malaysia.[40]

Brunei's culture 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.[41]

As a Sharia country, the sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned.[42] Non-Muslims are allowed to purchase a limited amount of alcohol from their point of embarkation overseas for their own private consumption.[14]

Media in Brunei is extremely pro-government. The country has been given "Not Free" status by Freedom House; press criticism of the government and monarchy is rare.[43] 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 SDN BHD, to form in 1953. It continues to print the leading English daily Borneo Bulletin. This paper began as a weekly community paper, became the country's daily paper in 1990, and "remains the foremost source of information on local and foreign affairs."[14] Apart from The Borneo Bulletin, there is also the Media Permata, the local Malay newspaper which is circulated daily. The Brunei Times, another newspaper written in English is an independent newspaper published in Brunei Darussalam. It is owned by the company, Brunei Times Sdn Bhd which consist of a group of prominent local businessmen.

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.[14]


The major 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.[14]

Brunei is accessible by air, sea and land transport. Brunei International Airport is the main entry point to the country. Royal Brunei Airlines[44] is the national carrier. The ferry terminal at Muara services regular connections to Labuan island (Malaysia). The 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 export of its petroleum products is carried out through dedicated terminals.

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 comprehensive transport system, low import tax, inexpensive maintenance and low unleaded petrol price of B$0.53 per litre.[14]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b The Prime Minister's Office of Brunei Darussalam
  2. ^ "Brunei Tourism". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brunei. CIA World Factbook. 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Brunei". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  6. ^ "Human Development Report 2010". United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Haggett, Peter (ed). Encyclopedia of World Geography, Volume 1, Marshall Cavendish, 2001, p. 2913. Available on Google Books.
  8. ^ Pocock, Tom (1973). Fighting General – The Public &Private Campaigns of General Sir Walter Walker (First ed.). London: Collins. ISBN 0002112957. 
  9. ^ "Human Development Reports". United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  10. ^ Data refer to the year 2009. World Economic Outlook Database-October 2009, International Monetary Fund. Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Curriculum Development Department (2008). History for Brunei Darussalam:Sharing Our Past. Section 2.2: EPB Pan Pacific. pp. 26. ISBN 99917-2-545-8. 
  12. ^ "Treasuring Brunei's past". Southeast Asian Archaeology. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  13. ^ Nicholl 1975, pp. 47–51
  14. ^ a b c d e f "About Brunei". 1998-07-30. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  15. ^ "MOFAT, Commonwealth". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Background Note:Brunei Darussalam/Profile:/Foreign Relations". United States State Department. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 
  17. ^ "MOFAT, UN". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^ "MOFAT, OIC". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  19. ^ "APEC, 2000 Leaders' Declaration". Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  20. ^ "MOFAT, WTO". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  21. ^ "MOFAT, BIMP-EAGA". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 30 March 2010. [dead link]
  22. ^ "RP, Brunei sign farm-cooperation deal"[dead link]
  23. ^
  24. ^ "the CIA World Fact Book". Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  25. ^ A tale of two oil blocks The Star. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
  26. ^ 2001 Summary Tables of the Population Census. Department of Statistics, Brunei Darussalam
  27. ^
  28. ^ Ubaidillah Masli, Goh De Noand Faez Hani BRUNEI-MUARA (2009-04-28). "'Laila Rice' to Brunei's rescue". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  29. ^ Ubaidillah Masli, Deno Gohand Faez HaniBRUNEI-MUARA (2009-08-04). "HM inaugurates Laila harvest". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  30. ^ Hadi Dp Mahmud (1 August 2009). "Brunei pioneers national halal branding". Brunei Times. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  31. ^ a b Martin, P. W., & Poedjosoedarmo, G. (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.
  32. ^ Official calls to preserve Brunei Malay language | The Brunei Times
  33. ^ Ozog, A. C. K. (1996). The unplanned use of English: The case of Brunei Darussalam. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds.), Language use & language change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 156-166). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
  34. ^ "Gleneagles JPMC". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  35. ^ Bandar Seri Begawan (2009-04-17). "HRH visits Health Promotion Centre | The Brunei Times". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  36. ^ "FHA – [Nursing staff education in Brunei – Article Summary". Retrieved 2009-12-30. [dead link]
  37. ^ Bandar Seri Begawan (2009-03-19). "58 nurse managers appointed | The Brunei Times". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  38. ^ Hadi Dp Mahmudbandar Seri Begawan (2008-12-06). "Problem needs nursing with care | The Brunei Times". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  39. ^ "Institute of Medicine". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  40. ^ For a discussion of religious freedom, see (United States Department of State).
  41. ^
  42. ^ Brunei Tourism Website (Government appointed)[dead link]
  43. ^ "Freedom Of The Press – Brunei (2006)". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  44. ^ "Welcome to Royal Brunei Airlines". Retrieved 2011-01-04. 


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