Brunei


Brunei
Bruneian, adj., n.
/broo nuy", -nay"/, n.
a sultanate under British protection on the NW coast of Borneo: formerly a British protectorate; gained independence 1984. 307,616; 2220 sq. mi. (5750 sq. km). Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Official name, Brunei Darussalam /dah'rooh sah lahm"/.

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Brunei

Introduction Brunei -
Background: 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. Geography Brunei
Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia
Geographic coordinates: 4 30 N, 114 40 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 5,770 sq km water: 500 sq km land: 5,270 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries: total: 381 km border countries: Malaysia 381 km
Coastline: 161 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM or to median line territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; hot, humid, rainy
Terrain: flat coastal plain rises to mountains in east; hilly lowland in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South China Sea 0 m highest point: Bukit Pagon 1,850 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, timber
Land use: arable land: 0.57% permanent crops: 0.76% other: 98.67% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: typhoons, earthquakes, and severe flooding are very rare Environment - current issues: seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia Environment - international party to: Endangered Species, Law of
agreements: the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: close to vital sea lanes through South China Sea linking Indian and Pacific Oceans; two parts physically separated by Malaysia; almost an enclave of Malaysia People Brunei -
Population: 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.)
Population growth rate: 2.06% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 20.06 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 3.38 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/ female total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 13.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.06 years female: 76.56 years (2002 est.) male: 71.68 years
Total fertility rate: 2.4 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 100 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Bruneian(s) adjective: Bruneian
Ethnic groups: Malay 67%, Chinese 15%, indigenous 6%, other 12%
Religions: Muslim (official) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs and other 10%
Languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 88.2% male: 92.6% female: 83.4% (1995 est.) Government Brunei -
Country name: conventional long form: Negara Brunei Darussalam conventional short form: Brunei
Government type: constitutional sultanate
Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan Administrative divisions: 4 districts (daerah-daerah, singular - daerah); Belait, Brunei and Muara, Temburong, Tutong
Independence: 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)
Legal system: based on English common law; for Muslims, Islamic Shari'a law supersedes civil law in a number of areas
Suffrage: none
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) Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization APEC, ARF, ASEAN, C, CCC, ESCAP, G-
participation: 77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDB, IFRCS, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador PUTEH ibni Mohammad Alam FAX: [1] (202) 885-0560 telephone: [1] (202) 237-1838 chancery: 3520 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Sylvia
US: Gaye STANFIELD embassy: Third Floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan mailing address: PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507 telephone: [673] (2) 229670 FAX: [673] (2) 225293
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 Brunei
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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $6.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $18,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5% industry: 45% services: 50% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (1999 est.)
Labor force: 143,400 (1999 est.); note - includes foreign workers and military personnel note: temporary residents make up 41% of labor force (1991) 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.)
Budget: revenues: $2.5 billion expenditures: $2.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.35 billion (1997 est.)
Industries: petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction Industrial production growth rate: 4% (1997 est.) Electricity - production: 2.22 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 2.065 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: rice, vegetables, fruits, chickens, water buffalo
Exports: $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)
Imports: $1.4 billion (c.i.f., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals
Imports - partners: Singapore 34%, UK 15%, Malaysia 15%, US 5% (1999)
Debt - external: $0 Economic aid - recipient: $4.3 million (1995)
Currency: Bruneian dollar (BND)
Currency code: BND
Exchange rates: Bruneian dollars per US dollar - 1.8388 (January 2002), 1.8917 (2001), 1.7240 (2000), 1.6950 (1999), 1.6736 (1998), 1.4848 (1997); note - the Bruneian dollar is at par with the Singapore dollar
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Brunei - Telephones - main lines in use: 79,000 (1996) Telephones - mobile cellular: 43,524 (1996)
Telephone system: general assessment: service throughout country is excellent; international service good to Europe, US, and East Asia domestic: every service available international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean); digital submarine cable links to Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines (2001) Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 10, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 329,000 (1998) Television broadcast stations: 2 (1997)
Televisions: 201,900 (1998)
Internet country code: .bn Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 28,000 (2001) Transportation Brunei -
Railways: total: 13 km (private line) narrow gauge: 13 km 0.610-m gauge (2001 est.)
Highways: total: 1,712 km paved: 1,284 km unpaved: 428 km (1996)
Waterways: 209 km; navigable by craft drawing less than 1.2 m
Pipelines: crude oil 135 km; petroleum products 418 km; natural gas 920 km
Ports and harbors: Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait, Muara, Seria, Tutong
Merchant marine: total: 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 348,476 GRT/340,635 DWT ships by type: liquefied gas 7 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: United Kingdom 7 (2002 est.)
Airports: 2 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001)
Heliports: 3 (2001) Military Brunei -
Military branches: Land Forces, Navy, Air Force, Royal Brunei Police Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 108,921 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 62,864 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 3,005 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $343 million (FY98)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 5.1% (FY98)
GDP: Transnational Issues Brunei - Disputes - international: Brunei established an exclusive economic fishing zone encompassing Louisa Reef in southern Spratly Islands in 1984, but makes no public territorial claim to the offshore reefs
Illicit drugs: drug trafficking and illegally importing controlled substances are serious offenses in Brunei and carry a mandatory death penalty

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officially State of Brunei Darussalam

Independent sultanate, northeastern Borneo.

The country is divided into two parts, each surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak; they both have coastlines on the South China Sea and Brunei Bay. Area: 2,226 sq mi (5,765 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 351,000. Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan. Brunei has a mixture of Southeast Asian ethnic groups: about two-thirds are Malay, one-fifth Chinese, and the remainder indigenous peoples and Indians. Languages: Malay (official), English(widely understood). Religions: Islam (official), Buddhism, Christianity, and animism. Currency: Brunei dollar, ringgit. The narrow northern coastal plain gives way to rugged hills in the south. Brunei's western enclave consists of the valleys of the Belait, Tutong, and Brunei rivers; it is mainly hilly, rising above 1,640 ft (500 m). The eastern enclave contains the Pandaruan and Temburong river basins and the country's highest point, Pagan Peak (6,070 ft [1,850 m]). Much of Brunei is covered by dense tropical rainforest; very little land is arable. Its economy is dominated by production from major oil and natural gas fields. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia. It is a monarchy; the head of state and government is the sultan. Brunei traded with China in the 6th century AD. Through allegiance to the Javanese Majapahit kingdom (13th–15th century), it came under Hindu influence. In the early 15th century, with the decline of the Majapahit kingdom, many converted to Islam, and Brunei became an independent sultanate. When Ferdinand Magellan's ships visited in 1521, the sultan of Brunei controlled almost all of Borneo and its neighbouring islands. In the late 16th century, Brunei lost power because of the Portuguese and Dutch activities in the region; they were soon joined by the British. By the 19th century, the sultanate of Brunei included Sarawak, present-day Brunei, and part of North Borneo (now part of Sabah). In 1841 a revolt took place against the sultan, and a British soldier, James Brooke, helped put it down; he was later proclaimed governor (see Brooke Raj). In 1847 the sultanate entered into a treaty with Great Britain, and by 1906 it had yielded all administration to a British resident. Brunei rejected membership in the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, negotiated a new treaty with Britain in 1979, and achieved independence in 1984, with membership in the Commonwealth. Brunei has pursued ways to diversify the economy, notably by encouraging tourism.

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▪ 2009

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 400,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Sir Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      In a bid to promote industrial investment in nonenergy sectors, Brunei signed an agreement in January 2008 with the American company Alcoa to study the feasibility of building an aluminum-smelting plant. Similarly, in August the Brunei National Petroleum Co. (through its subsidiary PB Logistics) initialed joint-venture agreements with two Japanese firms, Kokuka Sangyo and ITOCHU Corp., to form a company for the Methanol Tanker Project. Brunei also inaugurated Wawasan Brunei 2035, a strategic economic development plan that by 2035 would vault the sultanate to rank in the top 10 countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita.

      The royal imbroglio continued regarding the mismanaged state coffers; the High Court of London issued an arrest warrant for Prince Jefri, the youngest brother of the sultan and former minister of finance. Jefri had absconded and violated a London court order to turn over £3 billion (about $5.4 billion) to the Brunei government.

      The International Olympic Committee disqualified Brunei from participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics owing to the alleged failure of the Ministry of Sports to register the team on time. This oversight apparently resulted in a minor cabinet reshuffle involving the minister of sports, who became the new minister for energy.

      In August Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the sultan held their 12th annual bilateral talks in Johor, Malay. The two pledged closer cooperation and discussed issues pertaining to global food and energy security.

      In January the sultan and his second wife, Azrinaz Mazhar, welcomed their second child, Princess Ameerah Wardatul Bolkiah. The couple's firstborn was a son.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2008

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 393,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      In line with the state ideology of Malay Islamic Monarchy, Brunei made efforts in 2007 to diversify the economy. The government launched a landmark project to build the country's first petrochemical production plant, a $400 million methanol plant that was being constructed in a joint venture with Japan's Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. and Itochu Corp.

      Brunei and Malaysia reached a tentative agreement in resolving maritime border issues during the August visit to Bandar Seri Begawan of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who met with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah. In other royal news, Crown Prince Haji Muhtadi Billah continued his many working visits to state institutions. The new parliament building in the capital neared completion.

      The Islamization process accelerated. A new bank, the Islamic Bank of Brunei Berhad, was created by merging two existing banks, the Islamic Bank of Brunei Darusslam and the Islamic Development Bank of Brunei. In August Sultan Hassanal initiated the country's second university, the Islamic University of Sultan Sharif Ali, which opened its doors to an initial 152 students. In addition, the former Islamic Teachers' Training College was elevated to the status of university college. Brunei also held a major international Halal (religiously permitted food) exhibition in Bandar Seri Begawan.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2007

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 375,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      The year 2006 marked the centennial of ties between the U.K. and Brunei; the first British resident in the sultanate was appointed in 1906. The official Brunei History Centre, in collaboration with the British High Commission, held a national conference in early March to commemorate the event.

      Newly released legal papers showed that the revised Brunei constitution launched two years earlier gave immunity to the sultan, who “can do no wrong in either his personal or any official capacity.” The sultan's brother Prince Jefri, a former finance minister, viewed this as an attempt to implicate him retrospectively in a court case concerning the disappearance of billions of dollars from the state treasury. The Brunei Investment Agency, a financial arm of the government, took legal action in March to compel Jefri to surrender the assets he owned in major world cities as part of a settlement.

      Noteworthy in Brunei's domestic politics was the founding in August 2005 of the National Development Party (NDP), headed by Yassin Affendi, a former rebel leader who was implicated in the 1962 revolt. Given that the majority of Bruneians worked for the government, laws preventing civil servants from joining political parties remained a serious obstacle for participatory politics. During his 60th birthday the sultan announced a modest pay rise for Brunei's civil servants, the first in 22 years of independence.

      On June 1 a child, Prince ʿAbdul Wakeel, was born to the sultan and his second wife, Azrinaz Mazhar.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2006

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 364,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      In May 2005 a major cabinet reshuffle was carried out in Brunei by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah. Several senior ministers who had served in the government since the country gained independence in 1984 ceased to hold their portfolios. These included Pehin Isa Haji Ibrahim, the minister of home affairs and a special adviser to the sultan, and Pehin Abdul Aziz Haji Umar, the minister of education. The latter was regarded as a leading Islamist and had been promoting the expansion of religious teaching in Brunei; he was replaced by Pehin Abdul Rahman Taib, who moved from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. The new cabinet also included several Western-educated young technocrats—among them a former permanent secretary, Pehin Yahya Bakar, who was tapped to head up the newly created Ministry of Energy.

      Perhaps the most significant appointment, however, was that of the sultan's elder son, Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, to a senior minister's post in the prime minister's office. He spent much of the rest of the year making working visits to many government departments—a clear indication that a grooming process was under way for the 31-year-old crown prince eventually to succeed his father.

      The sultan visited Russia in early June, holding talks with Pres. Vladimir Putin that the latter described as initiating “a promising new stage” in relations between the two states. The sultan also made news later in the year when in August he married Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim, a 26-year-old television personality from Malaysia, in a private ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2005

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 351,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      In Brunei 2004 was an eventful year. During his 58th birthday speech on July 15, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah made a landmark announcement on the revitalization of the Legislative Council, which was suspended in 1984. He also stated that the 1959 constitution was being reviewed and draft amendments would soon be debated by the Legislative Council. The sultan appointed 21 Legislative Council members on September 6. Eleven were state officials, including the sultan himself and selected government ministers, while 10 were nominated members; few had served in the 1960s Legislative Council. Meanwhile, in mid-August a revised and broadened succession and regency law was announced.

      A gala royal wedding took place with much pomp and pageantry as Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah married Sarah binti Pengiran Salleh Ab Rahman, the daughter of a Bruneian father and a Swiss-born mother. The festivities were attended by world dignitaries, including Prince Naruhito of Japan, the king of Malaysia, the duke of Gloucester from Great Britain, and luminaries from neighbouring countries.

       Malaysia and Brunei sought to finalize their maritime boundary issue. The sultan met privately with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi while senior officials worked out the details of a settlement.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2004

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 344,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      Although there were no cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in Brunei, the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia—as well as the war in Iraq—contributed to further economic slowdown. The oil- and gas-rich sultanate continued to strive for economic diversification amid growing youth unemployment. The government injected $1 billion into the Eighth National Development Plan (2001–2005), but the multimillion-dollar Muara port project and an aluminum smelting plant in Sungai Liang were still in the planning stage.

      Talks continued with Malaysia to demarcate economic and territorial zones for deepwater oil prospecting off Sabah. Efforts also continued to resolve the long-standing border issue of Limbang, a strip of land on the island of Borneo claimed by Brunei but annexed in 1890 by the raja of Sarawak.

      Two important international meetings were held in Brunei in September. At the 15th meeting of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, officials from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand discussed terrorism and economic-cooperation issues. Later in the month finance ministers from 52 Commonwealth countries met in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

      Prince Jeffri, the sultan's younger brother and the former minister of finance, returned to Brunei's public eye in July after a five-year absence. He had been stripped of his official positions because of his alleged responsibility for the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers. In February Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah divorced his second wife, Pengiran Isteri Hajah Mariam binte Abdul Aziz.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2003

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 351,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      In 2002 Brunei recovered somewhat from the adverse international publicity and the multibillion-dollar financial loss that had been brought about by the 1998 collapse of the Amedeo Development Corp. Prince Jeffri Bolkiah, the sultan's youngest brother, had been sued by the state in 2001 for squandering public funds on Amedeo projects. The affair generated what by Brunei standards was a high volume of insolvency-oriented litigation. The cases were largely settled out of court, however, and the government was thus left room to focus on domestic development.

      Sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment were the main causes of concern in Brunei. Measures aimed at jump starting the economy included the establishment of a national oil company, the creation of two new territorial sectors for oil and gas exploration, the establishment of the Brunei Economic Development Board to develop strategies for attracting foreign investment, and the reduction of car tariffs to a flat 20% from a variable rate that had ranged from 20% to 200%.

      Two new cabinet ministers, one for development and the other for health, were named during the year, and new appointments were made at the deputy ministers' and permanent secretaries' levels. In August Brunei hosted another high-profile international meeting, the 9th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum, which was chaired by Brunei Foreign Minister Prince Mohammed. The meeting was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who signed a U.S.-ASEAN antiterrorism pact.

B.A. Hussainmiya

▪ 2002

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 344,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      The fallout from the scandal involving former finance minister Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the youngest brother of Hassanal Bolkiah, the sultan of Brunei Darussalam, continued in 2001. As finance minister the prince had been in charge of the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), which was responsible for investing the nation's oil wealth, and of the Amedeo Development Corp., Brunei's largest private company. By 1998 Amedeo had collapsed under heavy debts, and reports surfaced that $15 billion in BIA funds had disappeared. The prince was sued by the state for having squandered the funds on Amedeo projects, including a string of palaces and luxury hotels. Although an out-of-court settlement was reached in 2000, with the prince agreeing to hand over his remaining assets in exchange for a $300,000 monthly allowance, the royal family endured further embarrassment in August 2001 as 10,000 items once owned by Jefri Bolkiah were sold at a debtor's auction in Bandar Seri Begawan. Meanwhile, the prince faced a multimillion-dollar civil court action by his creditors.

      New press laws went into effect on October 1 requiring newspapers in Brunei to obtain a publishing license each year from the government; under the new legislation, editors and journalists also faced jail terms if they were found guilty of publishing “false news.” The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York City-based watchdog group, petitioned the sultan to set aside the laws, stating that they would “severely curtail” freedom of information in the country. A government spokesman, however, accused the group of “overreacting” and called the legislation an “internal matter.”

Editor

▪ 2001

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 336,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      The house of Hassanal Bolkiah, sultan of Brunei Darussalam, began 2000 in disarray, owing mostly to finances. The Asian financial crisis had exacted a heavy toll on the government's stock portfolio and other investments. Good fiscal health was at the crux of Brunei's political, social, and economic stability and ensured the continuation of its high living standards.

      The royal family itself was under scrutiny. The monarch's once much-favoured youngest brother, former finance minister Prince Jefri Bolkiah, returned from exile to face charges stemming from the misuse of state funds as head of the powerful Brunei Investment Agency (BIA). He was sued by the state for having misused over $15 billion from the government coffers and was accused of “improper withdrawal and the use of substantial funds.” Although maintaining that he was a victim of a conspiracy contrived by Muslim conservatives, by mid-May he had reached an out-of-court settlement; he would hand over to the government local and overseas property, businesses, and other assets. It was widely believed that during Jefri's tenure, the value of BIA's investment fund had diminished from $110 billion to $40 billion.

      On a positive note, the sultanate on November 12–13 hosted the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the first time an international gathering of this kind had been held there. At the 12th APEC ministerial meeting, member nations discussed three important themes: building stronger foundations, creating new opportunities, and making APEC a more visible organization. In addition, the price for oil reached its highest level in 10 years.

Alexandra A. Seno

▪ 2000

Area:
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 323,000
Capital:
Bandar Seri Begawan
Head of state and government:
Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah

      For the oil-rich Islamic sultanate of Brunei, 1999 was a year of nascent recovery. Oil prices climbed, which helped ease the ongoing pain from the Asian financial crisis and the collapse of the country's largest non-oil company, Amedeo. The man who ran Amedeo, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, a former finance minister and the sultan's youngest brother, remained in exile. Compared with the gloom of 1998, there was an atmosphere of guarded optimism owing to the surging oil prices, and greater stress was placed on the long-stated goal of diversifying the economy away from oil and gas. Annual growth of around 0.6% for 1999, moving to 1.5% in 2000, was predicted, though the economy still showed some troubling signs. Rent prices had fallen by a third, yet vacant property abounded. Banks struggled to sell repossessed luxury cars despite offering knockdown prices. Brunei tried to renegotiate a $1 billion order for three sophisticated offshore patrol boats from Britain. Meanwhile, moves to reinforce the country's Malay-Muslim credo gathered pace as stricter rules on halal food were enforced and many expatriate staff at the national university were told their days were numbered. The 1999 Southeast Asian Games were held in Bandar, and Brunei was scheduled to be host of a global gathering in 2000, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. In anticipation several new hotels opened, a second English-language newspaper started up, and there were plans for the country's first Chinese daily and a new Malay newspaper.

Roger Mitton

▪ 1999

      Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 315,000

      Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan

      Head of state and government: Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu!izzaddin Waddaulah

      The Asian financial crisis had an impact even on the rich sultanate of Brunei in 1998. The annual budget was halved by B$605 million (U.S. $357 million), but that caused such an outcry in the business community that B$352 million (U.S. $208 million) was reinjected to stimulate the economy. Construction suffered, especially after the collapse of Amedeo, a diversified conglomerate owned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the sultan's youngest brother. Thousands of foreign workers, especially those in the construction and tourism industries, were sent home because of the faltering economy. The sultan visited other countries in Southeast Asia and promised financial help in the crisis, but he was forced to rescind these offers when Brunei's own coffers were found to be depleted. With the Amedeo losses reportedly running into billions of dollars, Prince Jefri left Brunei in April and was removed from all government posts by July.

ROGER MITTON

▪ 1998

      Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 308,000

      Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan

      Head of state and government: Sultan and Prime Minister Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muˋizzaddin Waddaulah

      In 1997 Brunei's leaders continued to discuss the need to open their tiny, oil-rich country to outsiders. Tourism was seen as a particularly lucrative way to diversify an economy heavily dependent on nonrenewable natural resources like oil. At the same time, however, the nation struggled with the realities of opening up a relatively closed, quiet religious society.

      One reality hit home in March when Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and his brother, Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, were sued by a former Miss U.S.A., Shannon Marketic, who claimed she had been kept as a virtual prisoner and had been expected to engage in sexual activities while a guest of the sultan. The sultan denied Marketic's allegations, and in September a U.S. federal court judge in Los Angeles ruled that the suit could not go forward because the sultan and his brother enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Nevertheless, Brunei received a public relations black eye.

      Brunei continued to entice tourists, however. Although the ultraconservative Islamic sultanate had traditionally frowned on alcohol and unveiled women in public, this seemed to be changing. By 1997 many restaurants served beer out of teapots, unveiled women were a common sight (as was sexy window advertising at chic boutiques), and a wide range of entertainment was available via satellites, video rental stores, and new movie theatres.

TIM HEALY

      This article updates brunei, history of (Brunei).

▪ 1997

      The sultanate of Brunei is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, on the South China Sea. Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 300,000. Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Monetary unit: Brunei dollar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a par value of B$1 to Singapore dollar (free rates of B$1.41 to U.S. $1 and B$2.22 = £1 sterling). Sultan and prime minister in 1996, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu`izzaddin Waddaulah.

      Even as Brunei planned for a time when its oil and natural gas no longer bought the tiny nation prestige beyond its size, there were unmistakable signs in 1996 that, at least so far, its stature remained undiminished. A stream of high-level visitors illustrated Brunei's importance. Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir bin Mohamad arrived in April, following earlier visits by Prime Ministers Banharn Silpa-archa of Thailand and Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong paid an informal working visit in May, and Prince Hitachi of Japan arrived in August.

      Business also went to Brunei in 1996. Malaysia made Brunei the first foreign market for its Kancil automobile. The sultan continued to support the idea that Brunei should attract Southeast Asian business by becoming the region's hub for business services. (TIM HEALY)

      This article updates brunei, history of (Brunei).

▪ 1996

      The sultanate of Brunei is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, on the South China Sea. Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 291,000. Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Monetary unit: Brunei dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of B$1.43 to U.S. $1 (B$2.26 = £ 1 sterling). Sultan and prime minister in 1995, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu`izzaddin Waddaulah.

      In February 1995 the Brunei Solidarity National Party, the sultanate's only political party, held its inaugural assembly after having lain dormant for close to a decade. Its members declared their full support for Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Referring to a royal decree in 1984, leader Abdul Latif Chuchu endorsed Brunei nation building based on the principle of a democratic Malay Islamic monarchy.

      As a sign of the changing political climate, the sultan, for the first time, publicized his decision to extend emergency rule. The rule had been renewed every two years since the British crushed an armed revolt in 1962. A government committee recommended revisions to the 1959 constitution, which called for an elected parliament. The last time elections were held was in 1968, a year after the sultan ascended the throne, though grassroots polls for village chiefs had been permitted in recent years.

      In October Brunei joined the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to help reduce its reliance on oil and gas earnings, which in 1993 accounted for 60% of gross domestic product. The sultan agreed to keep on a battalion of 500 Gurkha troops from the British army for a further five years after their tour of duty in Brunei ended in 1998. (MATTHEW FLETCHER)

      This updates the article brunei, history of (Brunei).

▪ 1995

      The sultanate of Brunei is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, on the South China Sea. Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 283,000. Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Monetary unit: Brunei dollar, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of B$1.48 to U.S. $1 (B$2.36 = £ 1 sterling). Sultan and prime minister in 1994, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu`izzaddin Waddaulah.

      In March 1994 Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia created the East Asian Growth Area (EAGA). The regional economic market was patterned after the concept of international "growth triangles," which were becoming popular among the six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The latter also included Thailand and Singapore. In this "growth polygon" the four EAGA countries pledged to expand trade initially in four sectors: tourism, air transport, shipping, and fisheries. Brunei was to coordinate air transport. In May the sultanate established the Muara Export Zone in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital. It would serve as the entry point for EAGA goods and as a regional transshipment centre.

      In May the staunchly Muslim sultanate established ambassadorial-level relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization. In September, Foreign Minister Mohamed Bolkiah met for the first time with his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, at the United Nations. The two countries hoped to establish diplomatic relations in the future. In April Brunei and Malaysia agreed to begin talks on resolving Brunei's claim to Limbang, the sliver of Malaysian territory on Borneo.

      Oil-rich Brunei welcomed an initiative by Oman in January to coordinate oil prices among nonmembers of OPEC. The sultan visited Iran and three other Gulf countries in February. In October Brunei called for better regulation of world oil production because a glut had caused prices to hit a four-year low. (BERTON WOODWARD)

      This updates the article brunei, history of (Brunei).

▪ 1994

      The sultanate of Brunei is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, on the South China Sea. Area: 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 275,000. Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Monetary unit: Brunei dollar, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of B$1.58 to U.S. $1 (B$2.40 = £ 1 sterling). Sultan and prime minister in 1993, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu`izzaddin Waddaulah.

      A widening diplomacy in Asia highlighted 1993 for Brunei. The tiny oil-rich nation opened relations with Laos in July and Myanmar (Burma) in September. The sultan was planning to make his first official visit to China late in the year. The country sent 12 policemen to join the UN force in Cambodia, Brunei's first venture in international peacekeeping. In January, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa visited as part of a Southeast Asian tour. Later the two countries renewed their expiring 20-year agreement on the supply of Brunei's entire output of liquefied natural gas to Japan.

      With an eye to increasing bilateral trade, which had been minimal, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad visited. The two sides also agreed to set up a joint border committee to discuss boundary disputes involving the Limbang salient, Sarawak, and offshore economic zones.

      With Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty looming in 1997, Brunei announced that it would end its 30-year-old practice of using off-duty judges from the British-administered territory for its High Court and Court of Appeals. Judges would henceforth be hired. Open dissent continued to be extremely rare in the feudally run state. In April, however, it was reported that unsigned documents complaining of corruption and incompetence in government were circulating. The circulars did not criticize the sultan, who was generally seen as popular. (BERTON WOODWARD)

      This updates the article brunei, history of (Brunei).

* * *

Introduction
Brunei, flag of   independent Islamic sultanate on the northern coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is bounded to the north by the South China Sea and on all other sides by the East Malaysian (East Malaysia) state of Sarawak, which also divides the state into two disconnected segments of unequal size. The western segment is the larger of the two and contains the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Brunei achieved independence in 1984, after having been a British protectorate since 1888. It is a member of the Commonwealth and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Land (Brunei)

Relief, drainage, and soils
 Brunei consists of a narrow coastal plain in the north, which gives way to rugged hills in the south. The country's highest point is Pagon Peak (6,070 feet [1,850 metres]), in the southeast. Brunei is drained by the Belait, Tutong, and Brunei rivers in the western segment and by the Pandaruan and Temburong rivers in the east; all flow generally northward to the South China Sea. The Belait is the largest river in the country. The soils of Brunei are deeply weathered, highly leached, and generally infertile. Richer alluvial soils are found along the rivers and in some parts of the coastal floodplain, and these offer the best agricultural potential. White quartz sands are prevalent in some areas.

Climate
      The climate of Brunei is governed by the equatorial monsoon winds. The northeast monsoon typically blows from December to March, and the southwest monsoon blows from May to September. April, October, and November are transitional months. Temperatures in Brunei are warm throughout the year, typically dropping into the mid-70s F (about 23 °C) and rising to about 90 °F (32 °C) on a daily basis. Precipitation averages about 115 inches (2,900 mm) annually in the coastal areas but can exceed 150 inches (3,800 mm) farther inland. Rainfall is generally heavier from October to January and lighter from March to August.

Plant and animal life
      About three-fifths of the country is covered with virgin tropical rainforest, and another one-fifth is under secondary forest. The undisturbed rainforest consists mainly of hardwoods of the Dipterocarpaceae family, most of which are of commercial value. Large expanses of freshwater and peat swamps are found in the poorly drained lowlands of the Belait and Tutong rivers, while mangrove swamps are common along the lower riverine reaches and sheltered coastal areas. The complex vegetation of the rainforest provides niches for a rich variety of animals, including proboscis monkeys, leaf monkeys, pigtail macaques, gibbons, sun bears, sambar deer, pangolins, bats, and many other mammals. Among Brunei's most notable birds are its argus pheasants and hornbills. Numerous species of reptiles, including the large reticulated python, inhabit the country's swamps and woodlands.

People

Ethnic groups
      About three-fifths of the population of Brunei is classified officially as Malay. This category, however, includes not only ethnic Malays but also a number of the indigenous peoples, namely the Dusun, Belait, Kedayan, Murut, and Bisaya (Bisayah). Chinese make up about one-fourth of the population. The remainder of Brunei's residents consists of other (non-“Malay”) indigenous peoples, such as the Iban (or Sea Dayak); various peoples of South Asian descent; and temporary workers, primarily from Asia and Europe. The official language is Malay (Malay language), with English as a major second language. Brunei's population is predominantly Sunni (Sunnite) Muslim (Islāmic world), although the Chinese usually follow Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, or Christianity. Some of the indigenous peoples are Christian (Christianity), while others follow their own local religions.

Settlement patterns
      The forested uplands of Brunei's interior are sparsely populated by indigenous peoples, who practice shifting agriculture. In the country's western segment, the Iban and the Belait generally inhabit the westernmost region near the border with Sarawak, while the Kedayan are concentrated in the central and eastern areas, and the Kadazan live primarily in the rural parts of the east-central region. The Murut and Bisaya have settled mainly in the eastern segment of Brunei. The Malays are distributed in the riverine and coastal villages and towns throughout the country, and the Chinese are concentrated in the urban areas.

      About two-thirds of Brunei's population is found in and around Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital and largest urban centre. The city is located on the Brunei River about 9 miles (14 km) from its mouth on Brunei Bay. Adjacent to the modern section of the city is an older part called Kampong Ayer, where Brunei Malays live in houses built on stilts along inlets of the river. The area surrounding the cities of Kuala Belait and Seria, both in the oil-rich zone of the southwestern coast, is the country's next most densely settled region.

Economy
      Brunei's economy is almost totally dependent on the exploitation of its vast reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Although oil and gas revenues have allowed the state to give its citizens one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia, they also have made the country dependent on a single commodity that is subject to market fluctuations. In addition, Brunei must rely on imports for nearly all its manufactured goods and most of its food. In an effort to ensure the country's economic stability, the government has since the late 20th century striven to diversify the economy by developing other sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and financial services.

Agriculture, fishing, and forestry
      Agriculture, fishing, and forestry, once the mainstays of Brunei's economy, declined in importance after the discovery of petroleum resources in the 1920s. By the end of the 20th century, these three activities accounted for just a tiny fraction of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employed a comparably small segment of the workforce. Recognizing a need to diversify the economy away from petroleum production as well as to reduce the country's dependence on food imports, the government subsequently embarked on a program to develop the agricultural industry. By the early 21st century Brunei had become self-sufficient in the production of poultry and eggs and was approaching self-sufficiency in vegetables. Although locally grown rice still fell far short of domestic need, production had increased markedly.

      Brunei is among the largest consumers of fish per capita in the world. Fish imports reached a high in the mid-1990s. In an effort to curb imports, the government implemented programs to stimulate local fisheries. Within a decade Brunei was producing more fish domestically than it imported. Overfishing has been a growing concern, however, despite the government's emphasis on sustainable development. Aquaculture has been encouraged in carefully selected areas.

      With an aim of preserving the country's abundant forest cover, Brunei enacted legislation in the late 20th century to restrict logging. Plantation programs have been implemented to provide enough sawed wood for the local market only. Timber is not exported.

Resources and power
      The petroleum industry (including the manufacture of liquefied natural gas [LNG]) generates more than half of Brunei's GDP, although it employs a very small portion of the labour force. Nearly all of the country's petroleum and natural gas is produced from offshore fields located off its own western segment, and all but a small percentage of the production is exported, mostly to Asian countries. A local refinery supplies domestic needs; the country's energy is generated almost entirely from fossil fuels.

      Oil was first produced in 1929, while the natural gas industry was developed after the discovery in the 1960s of large deposits. Output of oil reached a peak in the late 1970s and subsequently was reduced in order to conserve reserves. Intensive exploitation of the country's huge deposits of natural gas in the 1970s included the construction of a liquefaction plant, and LNG has since become a major source of Brunei's export earnings. In addition to its hydrocarbon reserves, the country has rich deposits of white quartz sand that remained virtually undeveloped in the early 21st century.

Finance and trade
      In lieu of a central bank, the Financial Institution Division and the Brunei Currency Board, both part of the Ministry of Finance, are responsible for most central banking services. The Brunei Currency Board issues the Brunei dollar. Several Islamic commercial banks, a number of foreign banks, and a few offshore banks all operate in the country. Much of the state's financial activity is concerned with managing its substantial foreign investments, and the return on these has become an important source of income.

      Revenues from petroleum and natural gas, which constitute nearly all of the country's export earnings, have generally resulted in trade surpluses since the early 1970s. The country's principal trading partners are in Asia and include Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea, among others. Brunei also trades with the United States, Australia, and members of the European Union to varying degrees. Brunei has been a member of ASEAN since 1984 and became home to the secretariat of the East ASEAN Business Council in the mid-1990s.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Historically, Brunei has depended primarily on its rivers and the sea for transportation. Rivers have remained the main means of transport into the interior, but a good network of roads has been built in the coastal areas and continues to expand into the interior. Per capita car ownership in Brunei is one of the highest in the world. Brunei has two major ports: a large, deepwater harbour at Muara, on Brunei Bay, and a smaller port at Kuala Belait, at the mouth of the Belait River. The country's sole international airport, located at Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to Royal Brunei Airlines. Public transport (buses and taxis) is concentrated in urban areas.

      Telecommunications are regulated by the Authority of Info-Communications Technology Industry. The government operates several radio and television channels, most broadcasting in Malay. Additional channels are available through private companies offering satellite and cable services.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      In 1959 Brunei became a self-governing state and adopted a constitution, although the British retained jurisdiction over foreign policy, defense, and internal security. Limited attempts at elected representative government under this constitution were abandoned by 1970. After Brunei attained full independence in 1984, an Islamic (Islāmic world) sultanate (sultan) was established, and the constitution—while retained—underwent significant amendment.

      Ultimate authority rests with the sultan, who is both head of state and head of government. As prime minister, he presides over a Council of Ministers (cabinet) and is advised by several other councils (Religious, Privy, Succession, and Legislative); the members of these bodies are appointed by the sultan. In 2004 the sultan approved a number of amendments to the constitution. Although a provision for a partially elected Legislative Council was among the amendments, elections have not been held.

Local government
      Brunei is divided into four daerah (districts) for local administration: Temburong in the country's eastern segment and Belait, Brunei and Muara, and Tutong in the western segment. Each is headed by a district officer. The district officers are assisted by district councils, which are largely appointed. The daerah are subdivided further into units called mukim, each of which embraces a number of kampung (villages).

Justice
      Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of the Court of Appeal and the High Court, beneath which are the magistrates' courts. Although the High Court is a court of first instance for more serious offenses, it also handles appeals from the magistrates' courts. Appeals from the High Court are heard by the Court of Appeal. The final court of appeal for civil cases is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of London. There also are courts of Islamic law (Syariah, or Sharīʿah) that can appeal to the country's Religious Council.

Security
      The small, well-equipped Royal Brunei Armed Forces consists mainly of an army group, with smaller navy and air force units. These forces are supplemented by the Ghurka Reserve Unit and the Royal Brunei Police. Only Malays are eligible to participate in the military, and service is voluntary. A separate battalion of British Army Gurkhas has been present in the country since 1971. Prior to the country's independence, this unit was responsible for domestic security, but in the 21st century its chief task is to guard the petroleum and natural gas fields.

Health and welfare
      Brunei is essentially a welfare state, with well-developed social facilities. Citizens receive basic medical and dental services at no charge. Primary care is provided by a network of government health centres and clinics scattered throughout the country. Remote rural areas are visited regularly by the government's flying doctor service. There is a state hospital in each of the four districts, including a large facility in Bandar Seri Begawan. Private clinics and a few private hospitals also operate in the urban areas.

      Incidence of serious infectious diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and cholera) is low in Brunei. Aggressive malaria-control programs have rendered Brunei virtually malaria-free since the late 1980s. The country's death rate is well below the world average, and life expectancy is in the mid-to-upper 70s.

Education
      With education that is both free and compulsory from age 5 to 16, the vast majority of Brunei's population is literate. Malay, English, and Chinese are the three official languages of instruction. Malay is used in government schools, although English is the medium for certain subjects, beginning at the upper primary level. In addition to the government schools are private Chinese schools and schools operated by religious institutions; all, however, generally follow the same government-developed curriculum. Following secondary school, students may further their studies at any of a number of technical or engineering colleges or vocational schools. Those with strong examination results may enroll for classes at the University of Brunei Darussalam (1985) or at the Islamic University of Sultan Sharif Ali (2007).

Pushpa Thambipillai Mohamad Yusop Damit

Cultural life

The arts
Visual and performing arts
      The visual and performing arts have for centuries been a salient expression of Bruneian culture. Brunei is particularly renowned for its metalwork. Especially during the peak of the Brunei sultanate's power (16th and 17th centuries), brass and silver artisans were highly valued for their craftsmanship. They produced gongs, cannons, and other articles that were often embossed with designs of serpents and other animals. Bruneian metalwork has long been an important item of trade, both within and beyond the boundaries of the sultanate. Indeed, many of the gongs that constitute ritual paraphernalia and heirloom property among the remote interior peoples—not only of Brunei but also of Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo—are of Bruneian origin.

      Gongs are important locally as musical instruments. The royal nobat ensemble combines a set of vertically suspended gongs with double-reed instruments (called serunai) and single- and double-headed drums to mark important palace events, such as coronations, marriages, deaths, and the reception of honoured guests. The nobat also sometimes announces the times for Muslim prayer. A nonroyal ensemble called gulintangan combines a set of seven or eight small, horizontally suspended gongs with several larger, vertically suspended gongs and one or two double-headed drums to provide music for festivals in Malay and various other indigenous communities. An ensemble of small frame drums called hadrah often is played at weddings or to receive members of the royal family in an official capacity. A popular Malay social dance is performed to the accompaniment of large frame drums, called gendang, which often are played by women.

 The prevalence of Islamic arts in Brunei is particularly evident in the country's magnificent architecture. The high golden dome of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque (1958) dominates the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. It features classic attributes of Muslim architecture in its ornate domes (dome), arches (arch), and minarets (minaret). The mosque was built and furnished with fine materials from around the world—including marble from Italy, granite from China, chandeliers and stained-glass windows from England, and carpets from Saudi Arabia. In the mid-1990s another spectacular structure, the Jame' Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, was built in Kampong Kiarong (near Bandar Seri Begawan) to signify the eminence of Islam in Brunei; it is the largest mosque in the country. Istana Nurul Iman, set in landscaped gardens along the Brunei River, is an enormous residential palace incorporating both Islamic and distinctly Malay architectural styles. It is the home of the sultan and also houses his prime ministerial offices. The building is particularly striking when viewed at night from Persiaran Damuan, a nearby park featuring sculptures by noted Southeast Asian artists.

      A different sort of architectural masterpiece is Kampong Ayer (“Water Village”), in Bandar Seri Begawan. Kampong Ayer is a collection of long-established villages, the structures of which hover on stilts above the Brunei River. Houses, medical clinics, and schools—most made of wood but some now made of cement—blend contemporary amenities with time-tested building styles. The dwellings and other facilities are interconnected by an extensive network of elevated walkways.

Sports and recreation
      Brunei has fine facilities for a wide range of sports, including badminton, squash, tennis, field hockey, football (soccer), and aquatics, and the country's strongest athletes are internationally competitive. Golf enthusiasts enjoy several championship courses, and polo has been popular for decades, particularly with members of the royal family; polo fields and the royal stables are located at Jerudong Park, near Bandar Seri Begawan. Ocean sports, such as yachting and windsurfing, also have a strong following.

      In addition to such globally recognized activities, Bruneians practice a number of uniquely Southeast Asian sports—such as sepak takraw, a game similar to volleyball except the ball is made of rattan and is volleyed with the feet rather than the hands, and pencak silat, a type of martial art. These sports are internationally competitive within the Asian region, and Brunei has produced award-winning athletes in both events. In 1999 Brunei hosted the 20th Southeast Asian Games in Bandar Seri Begawan at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, the country's main sports venue. In 2000 the country sent its first representative to the Summer Olympic Games, held in Sydney, Australia.

      Main kikik, or kite flying, remains a popular pastime in Brunei. Some kikik (kite) owners aim to fly their kites to extraordinary altitudes, to lead them through spectacular maneuvers, or to keep them airborne for as long as possible. Others, however, engage in kikik battles; with the strings of their kites coated with ground glass, competitors strive to sever in midair the strings of their opponents' kikik.

      Another local pastime is main gasing, or top spinning. Players typically throw their gasing (top) forcefully into an arena in an attempt either to keep their top spinning as long as possible or to knock their opponents' tops down or out of the playing area. With gasing that can weigh some 15 pounds (7 kg), the game requires great strength, timing, and aim.

Pushpa Thambipillai Mohamad Yusop Damit

History
      Although its early history is obscure, Brunei was known to be trading with and paying tribute to China in the 6th century CE. It then came under Hindu influence for a time through allegiance to the Majapahit empire, based in Java. When the ships of the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan (Magellan, Ferdinand) anchored off Brunei in 1521, the fifth sultan, the great Bolkiah, controlled practically the whole of Borneo, the Sulu Archipelago, and neighbouring islands. Toward the end of the 16th century, however, the territory was torn by internal strife. Brunei's power subsequently declined through the 19th century, notably with the cession of Sarawak in northwestern Borneo to the English adventurer James (later Sir James) Brooke in 1841, the expansion of Sarawak by additional grants to Brooke, the cession to Great Britain (British Empire) of the island of Labuan in Brunei Bay, and the final loss of what is now Sabah, East Malaysia, in northeastern Borneo.

      Brunei became a British protectorate in 1888, and in 1906 administration was vested in a British resident, whose advice the sultan was bound to accept. Despite the presence of a foreign administration, Brunei's significance began to revive with the start of petroleum production in 1929. In 1941–45, during World War II, Brunei was occupied by the Japanese. The British returned after the war, and negotiations began for the eventual independence of Brunei.

      The first step in this process occurred in 1959, when self-government was achieved and the British resident was replaced by a high commissioner. Britain remained responsible for defense and foreign policy. Brunei adopted a written constitution, and in 1962 a partly elected Legislative Council with limited authority was installed. The conversion to a representative government was interrupted later that year by a revolt, which was suppressed with the help of British forces; the sultan then called a state of emergency and suspended most provisions of the constitution. New elections were held in 1965, but appointed members still retained their majority in the council.

      In 1967 Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah (Bolkiah Muʿizzaddin Waddaulah, Haji Hassanal), although the former sultan continued to exercise influence until his death. Brunei's political life was stable throughout the 1970s in large part because of its flourishing economy and its position as one of the world's wealthiest (on a per capita basis) oil producers. In 1979 the United Kingdom and Brunei signed a treaty whereby Brunei would become fully independent in 1984. Malaysia and Indonesia both gave assurances that they would recognize Brunei's status, thereby allaying the sultan's concern that the state might be incorporated by one of its larger neighbours.

Ooi Jin Bee Pushpa Thambipillai Mohamad Yusop Damit
      Brunei duly gained independence on Jan. 1, 1984, and an Islamic sultanate was proclaimed. The Legislative Council, which had become an entirely appointed body by decree of the sultan in 1970, was suspended, and a ministerial form of government was introduced. The sultan became prime minister, in addition to holding several other ministerial posts, and he appointed members of his family to most of the other positions, including his father as defense minister. When his father died in September 1986, the sultan assumed the important defense post and enlarged his cabinet.

      In 1990 the sultan encouraged Bruneians to adopt Melayu Islam Beraja (“Malay Islamic Monarchy”), the country's official ideology. The movement, which celebrated traditional Bruneian values and called for more rigid adherence to traditional Islamic principles, was viewed with anxiety by non-Muslims, particularly members of the Chinese community. Nevertheless, for much of the late 20th century the sultanate experienced both political and economic stability (though it did suffer during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s), and its citizens continued to enjoy a very high standard of living. However, the economy's heavy reliance on petroleum and natural gas, both nonrenewable sources of energy, led the government to pursue economic diversification more aggressively.

      In the mid-1980s two political parties, the Brunei National Democratic Party and the Brunei National United Party, were legalized, but membership restrictions were imposed (e.g., government employees, who made up a significant proportion of Brunei's citizens, were excluded) and their activities impeded by the government. After only a few years, both parties were banned. The Brunei National United Party was allowed to operate again beginning in 1995, and in the early 21st century it was joined by two new parties, the People's Awareness Party and the National Development Party. In 2004 the sultan reconvened the Legislative Council, which had not met in 20 years, to discuss constitutional amendments. Although provision for an elected component of the Legislative Council was among the approved amendments, the sultan reformed the council in 2005 with an entirely appointed membership. Meanwhile, two of the three political parties were deregistered, leaving the National Development Party as the sole legal party by 2007.

Pushpa Thambipillai Mohamad Yusop Damit

Additional Reading
Perhaps the most up-to-date reference source on the country, issued by the Economist Intelligence Unit, is Country Profile: Malaysia, Brunei (annual). Other reference works that include chapters on Brunei are Southeast Asian Affairs (annual); and Regional Outlook: Southeast Asia (annual). A collection of papers on the country's natural resources and environment is found in a special issue of Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 13, no. 1 (June 1992). Chua Thia-Eng, Chou Loke Ming, and Marie Sol M. Sadorra (eds.), The Coastal Environmental Profile of Brunei Darussalam (1987), includes articles on land use, population, and Brunei's institutional framework. Southeast Asian Affairs (annual) includes reports on Brunei's political and socioeconomic developments.A well-researched standard text is Ranjit Singh, Brunei, 1839–1983: The Problems of Political Survival (1984, reissued 1991). D.E. Brown, Brunei (1970), chronicles the history of the sultanate from the early 19th century to the late 1960s. B.A. Hussainmiya, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain: The Making of Brunei Darussalam (1995), traces political developments during the 25 years following World War II. Graham Saunders, A History of Brunei, 2nd ed. (2002), offers a concise history of Brunei from ancient times to the beginning of the 21st century. Mark Cleary and Shaung Yann Wong, Oil, Economic Development and Diversification in Brunei (1994), provides an overview of the basic issues.Pushpa Thambipillai Mohamad Yusop Damit

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