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  • Date :
  • 7/9/2003



The Sultanate of Brunei's heyday occurred between the 15th and 17th centuries, when its control extended over coastal areas of northwest Borneo and the southern Philippines. Brunei subsequently entered a period of decline brought on by internal strife over royal succession, colonial expansion of European powers, and piracy. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate; independence was achieved in 1984. Brunei benefits from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, the source of one of the highest per capita GDPs in the less developed countries. The same family has now ruled Brunei for over six centuries.



: Southeastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia

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Geographic coordinates: 4 30 N, 114 40 E



total: 5,770 sq km
water: 500 sq km
land: 5,270 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 381 km
border countries: Malaysia 381 km


161 km


tropical; hot, humid, rainy

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, timber



350,898 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:

 0-14 years: 30.2% (male 54,038; female 51,833)
15-64 years: 67% (male 125,051; female 110,257)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 4,609; female 5,110) (2002 est.)


 noun: Bruneian(s)
adjective: Bruneian

Ethnic groups:

Malay 67%, Chinese 15%, indigenous 6%, other 12%


Muslim (official) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs and other 10%
Note: Islam is the official religion of Brunei Darussalam as stated in the Brunei Constitution, with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan as the head of the Islamic faith in the country. Thus Islam plays a central role in the life of every Muslim in Brunei Darussalam. Other faiths practiced in the State include Christianity and Buddhism.


Malay (official), English, Chinese


: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.2%
male: 92.6%
female: 83.4% (1995 est.)

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Education:Enrolment in government primary schools was 50% in 1995. Education is free from primary to sixth form. In 1996 there were 122 government primary schools, 30 government secondary schools, and 50 private schools. The University of Brunei provides courses taught in both Malay and English: a B$180m campus at Tungku was opened in September 1995. In 1991, 93.1% of males and 84.7% of females over the age of nine were literate.


Country name:

conventional long form: Negara Brunei Darussalamnventional short form: Brunei

Government type:

constitutional sultanate


Bandar Seri Begawan

Administrative divisions:

4 districts (daerah-daerah, singular - daerah); Belait, Brunei and Muara, Temburong, Tutong


1 January 1984 (from UK)

National holiday:

National Day, 23 February (1984); note - 1 January 1984 was the date of independence from the UK, 23 February 1984 was the date of independence from British protection
Constitution: 29 September 1959 (some provisions suspended under a State of Emergency since December 1962, others since independence on 1 January 1984)

Executive branch:

chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Cabinet Ministers appointed and presided over by the monarch; deals with executive matters; note - there is also a Religious Council (members appointed by the monarch) that advises on religious matters, a Privy Council (members appointed by the monarch) that deals with constitutional matters, and the Council of Succession (members appointed by the monarch) that determines the succession to the throne if the need arises
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary

Legislative branch:

unicameral Legislative Council or Majlis Masyuarat Megeri (a privy council that serves only in a consultative capacity; NA seats; members appointed by the monarch)
elections: last held in March 1962
note: in 1970 the Council was changed to an appointive body by decree of the monarch; an elected Legislative Council is being considered as part of constitutional reform, but elections are unlikely for several years

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (chief justice and judges are sworn in by the monarch for three-year terms)

Political parties and leaders:

Brunei Solidarity National Party or PPKB in Malay [Haji Mohd HATTA bin Haji Zainal Abidin, president]; the PPKB is the only legal political party in Brunei; it was registered in 1985, but became largely inactive after 1988, it was revived in 1995 and again in 1998; it has less than 200 registered party members; other parties include Brunei People's Party or PRB (banned in 1962) and Brunei National Democratic Party (registered in May 1965, deregistered by the Brunei Government in 1988)

Flag description:

yellow with two diagonal bands of white (top, almost double width) and black starting from the upper hoist side; the national emblem in red is superimposed at the center; the emblem includes a swallow-tailed flag on top of a winged column within an upturned crescent above a scroll and flanked by two upraised hands


Economy – overview:

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 GDP. Per capita GDP is far above most other Third World countries, and 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 APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum. Plans for the future include upgrading the labor force, reducing unemployment, strengthening the banking and tourist sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base beyond oil and gas.

Labor force - by occupation:

government 48%, production of oil, natural gas, services, and construction 42%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate

: 10% (2001 est.)


revenues: $2.5 billion
expenditures: $2.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.35 billion (1997 est.)


petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction

Agriculture – products:

rice, vegetables, fruits, chickens, water buffalo


$3 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil, natural gas, refined products

Exports - partners:

Japan 42%, US 17%, South Korea 14%, Thailand 3% (1999)


$1.4 billion (c.i.f., 2000 est.)


Bruneian dollar (BND)


Telephones - main lines in use:

79,000 (1996)

Radio broadcast stations :

AM 3, FM 10, shortwave 0 (1998)



Television broadcast stations :

2 (1997)



total: 13 km (private line)
narrow gauge: 13 km 0.610-m gauge (2001 est.)


total: 1,712 km
paved: 1,284 km
unpaved: 428 km (1996)




The pre-Islamic history of Brunei is unclear, but archaeological evidence shows the country to have been trading with the Asian mainland as early as 518AD. Islam became predominant during the 14thC and the Brunei Sultanate rose to prominence in the 15thC and 16thC, when it controlled coastal areas of North-West Borneo, parts of Kalimantan and the Philippines. The Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish began arriving after the 16thC. Brunei lost outlying possessions to the Spanish and the Dutch and its power gradually declined as the British and Dutch colonial empires expanded.
In the 19thC the Sultan of Brunei sought British support in defending the coast against Dayak pirates, and created James Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. The British proceeded to annex the island of Labuan in 1846. North Borneo became a British Protected State in 1888 and Brunei voluntarily accepted the status of a British Protected State under the Sultan, with Britain having charge of its foreign relations. The loss of Limbang district to Sarawak in 1890 split Brunei into two and remains an obstacle to good relations with Malaysia to this day.
In 1906 a treaty was signed between Britain and Brunei making Brunei a full protectorate. The treaty assured the succession of the ruling dynasty, with the arrangement that a British Resident would advise the Sultan on all matters except those concerning local customs and religion.
In 1929 large resources of oil were discovered in Seria; these and subsequent discoveries made Brunei a wealthy country. In 1959 a written constitution was introduced, giving Brunei internal self-rule and allowing for a Legislative Council. The residency agreement of 1906 was revoked, transferring the Resident’s power to the Sultan and appointed officials below him.
During 1962 there were sporadic and unsuccessful attempts at rebellion, instigated by the North Borneo Liberation Army. These were put down with the help of British Gurkha units flown in from Singapore and the Sultan declared a State of Emergency. This has been renewed every two years since.
In the 1960s, Brunei considered merging with the Federation of Malaysia, which at the time included the provinces of the Malaysian peninsula, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. The idea was opposed by the Brunei People’s Party, which at that time held 16 seats in the 33-member Legislative Council, and which proposed instead the creation of a state comprising Northern Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah. The Sultan finally decided against joining the Federation.
In 1971, under an agreement with Britain, Brunei ceased to be a British Protected State. The Constitution was amended to give the Sultan full control over all internal matters, Britain retaining responsibility for defense and foreign affairs. Brunei became a fully independent sovereign state on 1 January 1984.

Key dates


Brunei ceded Sarawak to James Brooke

1846: Brunei ceded Labuan to Britain


Brunei signed Trade Relations Treaty with Britain

1888: Brunei became a British-protected State

1906: British Resident appointed

1906-41: A new form of government emerged which included a State Council

1931: Exploration for oil commenced

1941-45: Japanese occupation during World War II

1950-67: Reign of Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien

1962: Armed rebellion put down

1967: Brunei issued its own currency

1967: The voluntary abdication of the 28th Sultan, His Highness Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien (Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien)

1968: Coronation of His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan

1970: The State capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan

1971: The 1959 Agreement was amended and brought up-to-date


LNG plant began operation

1973: Deep Water Port opened in Muara


Official opening of the world's largest LNG plant

1974: Brunei International Airport opened

1975: The launch of Royal Brunei Airlines

1979: Brunei and Britain signed the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation

1984: Brunei resumed full political sovereignty; Brunei joined ASEAN, OIC and the United Nations; Brunei celebrated its first National Day

1985: University of Brunei Darussalam was formed


The demise of Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, His Majesty's father, the 28th Sultan

1987: University of Brunei Darussalam opened

1988: Opening of the Malay Technology Museum

1989: The first convocation of University Brunei Darussalam

1990: The first Al-Hafiz of Brunei Darussalam

1991: The setting up of the Brunei Islamic Trust Fund (TAIB)

1992: Brunei joined Non Aligned Movements (NAM); Silver Jubilee of the reign of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam

> 1998: Proclamation of His Royal Highess Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah as the Crown Prince

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