Country profile for Brunei

A Brunei map

Due to its abundant oil and gas reserves, the tiny nation of Brunei has one of the highest standards of living in the entire world.

Massive private fortunes are held by members of the royal family, including Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is the head of state. There is no income tax in Brunei. Under various government programs, the Sultan regularly allots land lots and homes to deserving citizens.

Brunei, a British protectorate since 1888, was the only Malay state to opt out of joining the federation that would become Malaysia in 1963. Full independence only finally arrived in 1984.

Brunei became the first nation in East Asia to adopt strict Islamic Sharia law in 2014, which permits penalties like the death penalty for stealing and amputation for adultery. A law that calls for death by stoning for adultery and gay sex in specific situations was fully implemented in 2019.

In response to widespread condemnation, the Sultan declared that the death penalty would be suspended, just as it had been in common law cases for more than 20 years.

  • : capital. It is Bandar Seri Begawan.
  • Area:. 5,765 sq km.
  • Population:. 460,300.
  • Language:. Malay.
  • Expected lifespan: (Men) 73 years; (Women) 75 years.

Hassanal Bolkiah is the Sultan of Brunei.

Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Hassanal Bolkiah, at the EU-Asean summit in Brussels, December 2022

Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, is one of the few absolute monarchs still in power and has been in power for the longest time. Following the abdication of his father, Sir Haji Omar Ali Saifuddin, he was crowned in August 1968.

He elected himself prime minister following Brunei's independence in 1984, and in 1991 he introduced a political philosophy known as Malay Muslim Monarchy that portrayed the monarch as the defender of the faith.

One of the wealthiest people in the world, he appears to enjoy genuine popularity among his subjects in a nation with a high standard of living. But more recently, he has come under fire for the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the nation.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah taking part in the Asean-China Summit in October 2021
At the Asean-China Summit in October 2021, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah will participate via video conference.

The media in Brunei is neither free nor diverse. The royal family either owns or controls the private press. State radio and TV dominate the broadcasting industry.

When covering politics and religion, journalists self-censor.

A Brunei Shell Petroleum offshore field, 2000
The sizeable oil and gas reserves in Brunei are the basis for its wealth.

Several significant dates in Brunei's history are:.

fifteenth century. - The Islamic sultanate of Brunei, which nominally controlled Borneo, some of the Sulu islands in the Philippines, and Sabah and Sarawak, which are now a part of Malaysia.

1841 . - By giving him control of Sarawak, Sultan of Brunei Omar Ali Saifuddin II thanks British army officer James Brooke for his assistance in putting an end to a civil war.

1846 . - Brunei's current size was reduced after handing over the island of Labuan to Britain.

1849-54. Malay pirates operating between Singapore and Borneo are destroyed by the British.

1888 . - Brunei is made a protectorate of the British.

1929 . Oil extraction gets underway.

1941-45 . Brunei and the island of Borneo are under Japanese occupation.

1950 . Omar Ali Saifuddin III ascends to the throne.

1962. - The Brunei Revolt, an armed uprising led by monarchy and proposed Federation of Malaysia membership opponents. The insurgents are soldiers in the North Kalimantan National Army (TNKU), which is supported by Indonesia. It is regarded as one of the opening salvos in the larger conflict between Indonesia and Malaysia.

1963 . The Sultan decides not to join the Federation of Malaysia following the Brunei Revolt.

1963-66. - The Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, also known as Konfrontasi; a war between British and Commonwealth forces and Indonesian troops that was sparked by Indonesia's opposition to the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. The conflict is resolved after Sukarno's ouster as president of Indonesia in 1966.

1967 . - After his father, Sultan Omar, abdicates, Hassanal Bolkiah takes over as sultan.

1984 . Brunei gains its independence.

1986 . Omar, a former sultan, passes away.

1990 . - Sultan introduces the Malay Muslim Monarchy's ideology.

2004 . - Twenty years after it was dissolved, parliament is reopened with members who have been appointed. Later, the sultan amends the constitution to permit some people to vote for themselves, but no election day is set.

2010 . - A 2003 border dispute between Malaysia and Brunei is resolved with an agreement to jointly develop two oil fields off Borneo. This allows for the resumption of exploration.

2014 . April - Despite widespread criticism from international human rights organizations, Brunei becomes the first nation in east Asia to enact sharia law.

2014 . - Brunei adopts Islamic sharia law for the first time in East Asia despite widespread international criticism.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (center-L) and Queen Saleha (centre-R not visible) wave from the royal chariot during a procession to mark his golden jubilee of accession to the throne in Bandar Seri Begawan on October 5, 2017
From the royal chariot, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Queen Saleha wave as they celebrate his golden jubilee in 2017.

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