What Should I Know About Brunei?

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Officially known as the State of Brunei, Abode of Peace, Brunei Darussalam is a small country in Southeast Asia. It is mostly surrounded by Malaysia, specifically the state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. The north side of the country has a coastline on the South China Sea.

The Sultanate of Brunei was a powerful territory from the 1300s to the 1500s CE. The Sultanate covered the southwest part of the present day Philippines and the island of Borneo. In the sixteenth century, European influence began to take over, and the Bruneian Empire declined, losing landmass and becoming a British protectorate in 1888.

In the 1960s, a rebellion against the monarchy known as the Brunei Result was suppressed by Britain. The country then decided not to join the Malaysian Federation. This is also when the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation began. Brunei has had an Internal Security Act in place since the 1960s, and many arrests are still made under this act. It became independent in 1984.


The country has a population of over 300,000 people and is made up of four districts, or daerah: Brunei and Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong; all of which are broken into two areas, which are unconnected. The large western part of Brunei contains 97% of the population, while the other 3% live in the district of Temburong, which is the mountainous eastern region. The country also claims the Spratly Islands, other islands including Kuraman islands, and some territory in Sarawak, although all these territories are contested.

An equatorial tropical country which has year-round heavy rainfall, Brunei also has high humidity, sunshine, and high temperatures. It is accessible by air. There are sea ports in order to export petroleum, which accounts for almost half of its GDP.

The majority of Bruneians come from a Malay origin, but are generally more conservative than Malaysia. The official languages in the country are English and Malay, but many people also speak Chinese. The official religion of this nation is Islam, and the sultan is the head of the government and of religion.

Public consumption and sale of alcohol is banned in Brunei, although non-Muslims and foreigners are allowed to bring in limited amounts of alcohol. Nightclubs and pubs were banned when prohibition of alcohol began in the early 1990s, although some restaurants are said to serve illegal alcohol in teapots. The country is not generally considered to have freedom of the press.


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