of Peace is the literal translation of Brunei Darussalam.
Brunei is located on the north-west coast of exotic Borneo, surrounded
by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and on the west, by the South China
Brunei is divided into
four districts, Brunei-Muara, Temburong, Tutong and Belait. The country
consists of 5,765 sq km of land, most of which is still covered by rich
tropical rainforest. Of this, the majority is still untouched primary jungle which
hosts a large variety of flora and fauna.
Once called Poli or Puni by sixth century Chinese
historians, Bruneis exposure to Islam started as far back as the 5th
century. Bruneis empire once extended throughout Borneo, the southern
parts of the Philippines and parts of Indonesia. When European influence
spread throughout the region, Bruneis territory and power declined.
In 1906 Brunei became a British
protectorate and the British Resident became an adviser to the Sultan on
all matters except Islamic affairs and Malay customs. In 1959, the
Anglo-Brunei Treaty was signed and this gave Brunei its first
constitution. In 1979, both countries signed a treaty of friendship and
co-operation, paving the way for full independence in 1984. Membership
of the UN, the British Commonwealth, ASEAN, and the Organization of
Islamic Conference (OIC) quickly followed.
Brunei's current Monarch, the 29th descendant of
one of the worlds oldest continuous Royal lines, is His Majesty,
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzadin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang
Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam. He ascended the throne in
October 1967 at the age of 21. He serves as Prime Minister, Finance and Defence
Minister. Brunei's relatively small population of approximately 300,000 allows
him to remain close to his people.
The people of Brunei Darussalam
have enjoyed one of the highest standards of living since the country
negotiated a 51% interest in their oil and gas production industry in
the mid 1970's. The oil and natural gas industry dominates the economy,
although government policy includes the development of other income and
employment generating industries. Generous incentives are provided to
encourage foreign investment in new industries.
Places of Interest
Bandar Seri Begawan
The Brunei Museum houses an
extensive collection of Islamic art and historic artefacts that date back to the
9th and 10th centuries. Because Brunei once included all of Borneo and
parts of the Philippines, these collections are some of the best
historical record of the entire region. The Natural History displays and
information are also of great interest. Brunei Museum staff have
responsibility for surveying and preserving Brunei's natural
The Sir Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
named after the 28th Sultan, is the most striking feature of the city
centre. The mosque is made using some of the finest quality materials
from around the world.
In Kampong Kiarong, lies the
Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. This majestic monument to
Islam was commissioned by the current Sultan. It is the largest
mosque on Borneo, complete with golden domes, huge internal spaces, an awe-inspiring exterior,
and beautiful surrounding gardens.
Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of
Brunei, hosts the largest traditional
village in the world. It
accommodates 30,000 people who continue to choose to live with the
strong community ties of the water village. Walkways link these
stilt houses together into a community network which includes schools, clinics, mosques,
fire stations, police and
The largest residential palace in
the world, the Istana Nurul Iman,
His Majestys official residence, has 1788 rooms, a banquet hall to accommodate 4,000
people and a ceremonial dining hall for up to 500
guests. The Istana is open to the public only during Hari Raya
Adil Fitri, at the end of the Moslem fasting month, when thousands of
people que to greet the Sultan or his wives.
A dedication to Brunei's neighbours lies in Persiaran
Damuan, a park off Jalan Tutong, where six permanent
outdoor sculptures, each represent a founding member of the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) .
The Malay Technology Museum, focuses
on the evolution of traditional crafts and skills such as
architecture, house-building, handicrafts, boat building, fishing,
metalworking and gold smithing.
The Royal Regalia houses an
extensive display of events, items, gifts etc related to Brunei's
Monarchy and with it the evolving history of Brunei, and Borneo. Many
significant historical events that have shaped modern Borneo are
captured in the artifacts and descriptive materials. Some visitors will
want more than a day to fully explore this very large collection.
Places of Interest -
A uniquely preserved Natural Heritage
Brunei's financial security has
created an environmental gem.
on the north west coast of Borneo, about 4 degrees and 445
kilometres north of the equator. The natural environment is
dominated by rainforest.
rainforest is largely devoid of the tangle of vines and ground level vegetation.
Such re-growth occurs
when the vegetation is recovering from selective logging,
disturbances from tree falls, or fires. The Brunei rainforest in mostly open on the ground level, because the
sunlight blocking canopy has not been disturbed.
is no export logging industry in Brunei. Commercial forestry for local use
occurs only in selected
areas of the Tutong and Belait districts.
Brunei's forests reserves are largely intact as they have been for
thousands of years.
Viewed from an aircraft, Brunei's border is
where the trees start again.
relatively small population of just over 300,000 people live
in a country of approximately 5,765 square kilometres. About
80% (4,346 square kilometres) of that land is undeveloped
are high throughout the year, with a daily range of 23 to 32
degrees Celsius and minimal monthly variation. The average
humidity is between 66 to 89 percent.
forests at sea level merge with heath forests on sandy
alluvial soils up to about 30 metres elevation. Peat swamp
forests are found further inside, along the lower sections of main rivers.
dipterocarp forests are next in elevation, extending to around
1,300 metres. Montane forests are present in the rugged
inland areas of Temburong district, where elevations can reach
over 1,800 metres.
human habitation was located around the coastal bays and
rivers, where easy boat transport and the abundance of food
facilitated water village communities. The hilly terrain,
and difficult access meant rainforests stayed largely undisturbed.
modern times, Brunei has set aside large areas as National
Parks, Recreation Reserves and protected forests. These now
provide unique habitats for wildlife,
recreation and scientific research. Scientist from around the world
University of Brunei Darussalam's Belalong Field Studies
Centre for study and research. This centre is on the
Belalong River, which branches off the Temburong River
adjacent to the Ulu Temburong National Park entrance.
People and Religion
The population of Brunei Darussalam is approximately 300,000. Malays are
the majority ethnic group, while Chinese, Indians, and a number of
indigenous groups make up the rest. Half the population is under the age
of 20 and males outnumber females by a slight margin.
Brunei has a dual language policy. Malay
is the official language for government administration, and official
functions, but English is taught in the schools, the British based legal
system is conducted in English, and English is widely spoken. Brunei
seeks to maintain its cultural heritage, yet have easy access to the
world and the wide range of information available in written English.
The official national religion is Islam.
Other faiths practiced include Christianity and Buddhism. Brunei's religious tolerance is reflected in non work days for the government
being Friday (the Islamic holy day) and Sunday (the Christian holy
Bruneian etiquette is a combination of Islamic religion and Malay
culture. Polite, gentle, and respectful are the principle
characteristics. Visitors should aim to follow that style in their
Members of the opposite sex may not wish
to shake hands. Wait for their lead before offering your hand.
point with the index finger, instead use your thumb. Do not beckon
people with your hands, instead, call people by their name or title.
When visiting mosques, remove your
shoes at the steps. Do not pass in front of people at prayer or touch
the Al-Quran. Do not walk on the prayer mats. Dress conservatively, covering arms and legs.
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