INTRODUCTION TO BRUNEI  

Bob Dylan Alexandra Burke Massive Attack Download music Mylene Farmer Buy MP3 White Stripes Sufjan Stevens Bing Crosby Shakira Nat King Cole Phil Collins Music downloads Queen Benabar Brunei Darussalam - lying northwest of the island of Borneo is one of the oldest kingdoms yet one of the youngest independent nations of the region.

A small country with a total land area of just 5,765 sq kin with a coastline that runs 161 km along the South China Sea, its tiny size has not impeded its social and economic progress.

The recent years has seen Brunei emerging as an audible voice and a competitive player in world affairs with active participation in international, regional and sub-regional core groups such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asean, BIMP-EAGA, WHO and other high-powered organisations.

At the same time, keen to sharpen its competitive edge, the country has made leaps and hounds in the areas of technology and infrastructure.

But while the nation keeps pace with modernisation, tranquility still resides in its heart and for that, Brunei has been called the Abode of Peace, an apt description of the serene haven that the country really is.

Filled with gentle people and a culture of decorum and hospitability, Brunei is a true reflection of the Malay way of life. Indeed, the majority of the population (about 74%) is made up of the central role in the life of every Muslim in Brunei Darussalam.

The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of the Sultanate is the head of the faith and rule the country according to the established values and traditions of Islam.

Official Name

The official name for Brunei is Negara Brunei Darussalam (i.e. 'Negara Brunei' - the state of Brunei, and `Darussalam' - Abode of Peace)

Flag And Crest

The Brunei flag has four colours - a yellow backdrop, with two wide strips of white and black cutting across from the top left corner to the bottom right, and imposed by the state crest in red right in the middle of the standard. Embodied in the crest, in yellow Arabic script, is the state motto: `Always in Service with God's Guidance'.

The state crest consists of the royal regalia - the two-pointed Flag atop the Royal Umbrella - followed by the `Wing of Four Feathers', which signifies justice, tranquillity, prosperity and peace; the `Hands' in prayer, symbolising the Government's pledge to promote welfare, peace and prosperity; and the `Crescent', which is the symbol of Islam, the national religion of Brunei.

Location And Geography

Brunei Darussalam is situated on the north-western coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, between the longitudes 11 degrees 04' and 11 degrees 23' East and latitudes 4 degrees 00' and 5 degrees 05' North.

The sultanate has a total land area is 5,765 sq km and a coastline 161 km along the South China Sea, its northern border. The Malaysian state of Sarawak borders its other sides.

The eastern part of Brunei is the Temburong district, famous for its pristine rainforests and its natural habitats, and separated from the rest of Brunei by Limbang of Sarawak.

Temburong is divided into low-lying coastal plains to its north, which rises to become rugged hilly terrain further inland, reaching its peak at the 1,841m high Bukit Pagon.

Western Brunei, where three districts - Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait - are located, composed mainly of lowlands and swampy plains, and hill ranges to the south - watersheds to some of the biggest rivers in the country.

The area is also home to the major economic and administrative hubs of the country, as well as the bulk of its population.

Climate

Brunei does not have clearly distinguishable wet and dry seasons. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, with the heaviest between September and January and May to June.

The climate is equatorial in general, with a mean average temperature of around 28°C, with March and April being the warmest; humidity is high throughout the year (about 79%).

Brunei is not in the direct path of cyclones and typhoons that plague the surrounding regions, while earthquakes and severe flooding are non-existent.

Brunei’s District

Brunei Darussalam, bordered at the north by the South China Sea, is surrounded by and divided into two by the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

These two enclaves contain four districts namely Brunei-Muara, Tutong and Belait to the west and Temburong to the east.

Brunei-Muara, with an area of just 570 sq km is the smallest but the most populous district of Brunei. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is approximately 16 sq km in size and has a population of about 247,200 people (2004 consensus).

Tutong, the third largest district with a total land area of 1,166 sq km, is the home of many of Brunei's ethnic tribes such as the Dusun, Murut, Kedayan and so on. Its population is around 41,600 people.

Belait is the largest district of Brunei. With a land area of 2,727 sq km housing 59,600 people, it is the production base of the nation's main export commodities - oil and gas.

The eight territorial subdivisions/mukims in Belait are Seria - the oil town as it is called, Kuala Bclait, Sungai Liang - th( site earmarked for oil and gas downstream industries in the near future, Bukit Sawat, Labi, Sukang, Kuala Balai and Melilas.

Temburong, located at the easternmost part of Brunei, is the country's second largest district but the least populated. Heavily forested and largely undeveloped, this 1,306 sq km district has a population of just 9,400 people.

The Capital

The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan (about 16 sq km) with busy business areas and Government departments, has seen even more development in recent times. Several areas such as Lambak, Kampong Pengkalan Gadong or Tengku Link, Kampong Mata Mata Gadong, Jalan Muara, Jalan Tutong, Serusop, Berakas have opened new business areas that are filled with new buildings, offices and shop lots.

While these areas are developing, the existing commercial hotspots of Gadong and Kiulap have further expanded with the emergence of brand new shophouses offering products and services of all kinds.

Gadong's The Mall - Brunei's first, largest and most sophisticated shopping complex with more than 150 shops, a hotel and cineplexes allocated inside.

Elsewhere, existing landmarks such as the famous Jerudong Park Playground - a state-of-the-art theme park, the newly expanded and refurbished Brunei Darussalam International Airport, the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium Complex and the International Convention Centre continue to garner attention.

Kampong Ayer, the country's historical attraction and the world's largest water village that is home to more than 30,000 people, remains a favourite place of interest along with the rest of Brunei's jewels such as the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque - arguably the most magnificent mosque in Brunei, the Royal Regalia Museum, the Brunei History Centre, the Royal Ceremonial Hall or Lapau, the Parliament House or Dewan Majlis and Istana Nurul Iman - the world's largest residential palace in the world.

Muara - Brunei's chief port - is located about 41 km to the northeast of the capital. Kuala Belait-the administrative centre and Scria - the seat of the oil and gas industry are in Belait. Pekan Tutong is the main town of Tutong while Bangar is the town centre of Temburong.

Population

The total population of Brunei Darussalam in 2004 is estimated at 357,800 and growing at an average of 2.3% per annum. Below is the breakdown of the 2004 census.

Population 2004

Total                                                               357,800
Male                                                                186,200
Female                                                             171,600
Annual rate of increase (%)                                     2.3%
Population density (per sq km)                                     62
Population by age-group (thousands and %)
0-4                                                                 2,700 or
                                                                        14.7%

5-19                                                              95,600 or
                                                                        26.7%

20 - 54                                                         190,300 or
                                                                         53.2%

55 - 64                                                           11,200 or
                                                                           3.1%

65 and over                                                      8,000 or
                                                                          2.2%

Population by Racial Group (thousands)

Malay                                                               237,100
Other Indigenous                                                  12,300
Chinese                                                              40,200
Others                                                                68,200

Population by District (thousands)

Brunei/Muara                                                     247,200
Belait                                                                 59,600
Tutong                                                               41,600
Temburong                                                           9,400

Vital Statistics 2003

Birth rate per 1,000 population                                  20.2
Death rate per 1,000 population                                  2.9
Natural increase rate per 1,000 population                   17.3
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births                      9.5
Total marriages (number)                                         2,262

Muslim                                                                  1,900
Civil                                                                        167
Customary and others                                                195
Muslim divorces                                                         324

Life expectancy at birth (years)
Males                                                                     74.4
Females                                                                  77.4
Total fertility rate (%)                                               2.1%

LABOUR 2004
Labour force                                                        160,500
Males                                                                   95,000
Females                                                                65,500
Employed                                                             152,800
Males                                                                   91,000
Females                                                                61,800

The People Of Brunei

Brunei is a Malay nation as the Malay racial group making up approximately 66.3% dominates the population.

The rest of the racial groups are the Chinese (11.2%), the Indigenous groups (Ibans, Dusuns, etc) and the expatriates. There are more males than females in Brunei (186,200 or 52% male: 171,600 or 47.9% female).

The annual increase in population is 2.3% (2002), while the birth rate is 20.2 per 1000 (2002) and the death rate is 2.9 per 1000 (2002).

The people of Brunei are mostly young with 53.2% of the population in the working age group between the ages of 20-54. Only 5.3% of the population are above the age of 55.

The breakdown by district shows that Brunei-Muara is the most populous, with about 69% of the country's population, followed by Belait, which has approximately 17%, Tutong 12% and finally Temburong with less than 3% of the population.

Language And Religion Bahasa Melayu is the official language but English is widely spoken, alongside Mandarin and the other Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese. Indian languages used include Tamil and Hindi.

Islam is the state religion but it coexists with other beliefs, which are openly practised.

Malay Islamic Monarchy

The philosophy of Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay Islamic Monarchy) or MIB has been in existence as early as the 14th century when Brunei's king first converted to Islam.

The present ruler, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah who is the 29th descendent of this Islamic monarchy, officially proclaimed the MIB philosophy on 1st January 1984, the day of Brunei's independence.

MIB or Malay Islamic Monarchy has since become the nation's system of ruling, its way of life and form of Government.

Type Of Government

Brunei is an independent sovereign Sultanate governed on the basis of a written constitution. The Head of State, the Head of Government and the Supreme Executive Authority is His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th monarch in succession to the throne.

His Majesty is also the Prime Minister, the Defence and Finance Ministers.


Government Ministries:

• Prime Minister's Office
• Ministry of Defence
• Ministry of Finance
• Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Ministry of Home Affairs
• Ministry of Education
• Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources
• Ministry of Religious Affairs
• Ministry of Development
• Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
• Ministry of Health
• Ministry of Communications

Constitutions and Constitutional Bodies
The constitution of Brunei provides for a number of constitutional bodies.

They include:

• Council of Succession
• A Privy Council
• Council of Cabinet Ministers
• Religious Council
• Legislative Council

Economy

Brunei is a wealthy economy with a per capita GDP far above most other Asean countries.

It derives most of its income from exports of oil and gas. Brunei is the third largest oil producer in Southeast Asia (after Indonesia and Malaysia) and the fourth largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world.

However, recognising that oil and gas are non-renewable commodities, the country is now embarking on a diversification programme with emphasis on industry and commerce.

The non-oil sectors of the economy are: manufacturing, services and trade, tourism and high technology.

Judicial System

Brunei's judicial system is based on English common law. For Muslims, the Syari'ah law supersedes civil law in a number of areas.

Defence

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) was established during the country's independence. In 1987, the Brunei Royal Reserve Regiment was formed to enhance Brunei's existing defence forces.

In October 1991, RBAF was restructured to comprise five components: land force, air force, navy, support services and training corps. His Majesty the Sultan is the Minister of Defence.

Education

A high level of education is provided for the growing population of Brunei Darussalam. In 2004, there are more than 252 government and private schools nationwide; comprising of 208 kindergarten / primary, 33 secondary, 8 technical / vocational, 1 teachers' training, 1 institute and 1 university; with an enrolment of 106,294 students.

Other private schools in Brunei include kindergartens; tertiary education institutions, tuition, and computer and music schools. Most of these specialised education centres are located in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Formal education is given free to all Brunei citizens who attend Government schools and institutions. Free hostel accommodation is provided at certain schools and institutions.

The establishment of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in 1985 enables local students to pursue degree courses in the Sultanate. In September 2004, UBD held its 16th Convocation where a total of 916 graduates received their certificates including one PhD, 43 post-graduate, 559 undergraduates and 313 diplomas.

The Government continues to award scholarships to qualified Brunei citizens for their studies abroad. The literacy rate in Brunei is 93.7% in 2004.

Health

Citizens of Brunei Darussalam are charged only a dollar (B$1.00) for their medical and health care at all Government hospitals, health centres and health clinics throughout the country.

Medical care for those aged below 12 years is provided free of charge.

For others, a nominal fee is charged. In remote areas that are inaccessible by land or water, health care is provided by the Flying Medical Team, which makes regular visits by helicopter (provided by Royal Brunei Armed Forces).

The Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital in the capital is the largest and central referral hospital.

The other three hospitals are the Suri Seri Begawan Hajjah Mariam Hospital inTemburong and the Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji AI-Muhtadee Billah Hospital inTutong.

However, patients who require very specialised treatment not available in the Sultanate are sent abroad. Expenses for Brunei citizens are borne by the Government.

The Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) located in Jerudong is a state-of-the-art private hospital.

The newly opened Heart Centre run by Gleneagles JPMC Sdn Bhd (a joint venture company between JPMC Sdn Bhd and Gleneagles International Pte Ltd) provides sophisticated cardiac care including open-heart surgery.

One more private hospital is located in Seria. However it is only for the employees of Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Ltd.

Employment

Brunei Darussalam employs foreign workers from the region to supplement its workforce.

In recent years, however, to localise the workforce and reduce unemployment, the Government is putting great emphasis on human resource development, particularly in the technical, technology and professional fields.

A labour quota controls the flow of overseas workers into the country and employment passes are issued by the Labour and Immigration Departments respectively.

The private sector is the largest employer while the rest work in the Government sector. The unemployment rate as of 2004 is around 4.8%.

Housing

The National Housing Scheme provides citizens without land to build their own houses at subsidised rates payable over a period of 20 to 30 years.

The objective of this scheme is to enable all citizens of Brunei Darussalam to own their own accommodation. Another housing scheme is Government Housing where the Government provides accommodation to its employees for a low monthly rental.

In addition, interest free loans are given to Government employees to build their own houses or buy ready-built ones.

Infrastructure

The current Eighth National Development Plan 2001-2005 is aimed at enhancing the provision of infrastructural facilities for the promotion of economic diversification and adequate well-planned public amenities to ensure the continuous well being of the people.

The road network in Brunei Darussalam plays a vital role in the overall growth and development of the Sultanate.

A good road network including highways, link roads, flyovers, underpasses and roundabouts connects housing, commercial and industrial areas adequately.

A major highway - the Muara-Jerudong-Tutong coastal road running 1,712 km - links Muara, the port entry point at one end of the country to the oil-producing district Belait at the other end.

An 11 km road between Sungai Teraban and Sungai Tujoh connects Brunei Darussalam to Sarawak's Miri and other Malaysian parts.

Brunei Darussalam has over 2,525 km of good quality roads made of asphalt, concrete and other materials. This network of roads is used by the almost 200,000 registered motor vehicles in the country. Brunei has public transport that includes taxis - which are metered; buses - which operate in all of Brunei's districts; and water taxis - which are not metered.

The country's main seaport is Muara Port, situated 29 km from the capital, this high-tech deep water port has an extensive wharf, an entrance measuring 2,651m long and 122m wide which can accommodate large draught vessels such as third generation container ships, plus vast covered, dedicated, warehouse as well as open storage spaces.

A Free Trade Zone has been established in Muara Port called the Muara Export Zone (MEZ) to promote and develop Brunei Darussalam as a trade hub of the region.

The establishment of MEZ is the initial step towards developing other Free Trade Zones in the country.

But Muara Port has reached its physical limitation for further expansion. Pulau Muara Besar is now being developed as a centre for dockyard, ship salvaging and other related industries.

Brunei has two other ports besides Muara Port. A small one is located at Bandar Seri Begawan for cargo plying between Bandar Seri Begawan, Limbang and Temburong while another at Kuala Belait caters to general cargo between neighbouring countries.

There is a private 19 km railway line operated by the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company. The company also operates 135 km of crude oil pipelines, 418 km of refined products pipeline and 920 km of natural gas pipelines.

The Brunei International Airport, located at Berakas about 10 minutes from the centre of town, operates 24 hours a day.

Recently expanded and refurbished, its 4,000m runway can accommodate any type of aircraft including jumbo 747s, handle 2.2 million passengers and 50,000 tonnes of cargo a year.

Another airport at Anduki near Seria is used by the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company for its helicopter services.

The national air carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) founded in 1974, flies regularly to 24 destinations across Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Europe.

New services to Ho Chih Minh City, Seoul, and Tokyo are being planned for 2005. Since their inaugural service, passenger figures have grown from 46,831 in 1975/76 to 1,218,123 in 2002/03.

Correspondingly, cargo carried has risen from 504,923kg in 1975/76 to 44,296,326 km in 2002/03.The last quarter of 2003 saw RBA holding a re-fleeting exercise to improve the level of comfort for its passengers.

Two new Airbus 319 aircraft and another two new Airbus A320 aircraft were added to its existing fleet of eight Boeing B767-300s and two Boeing B757-200s.

Telecommunication

The telephone system throughout the country has been rated as excellent. There are currently two operators providing telecommunications services in Brunei. They are Jabatan Telekom Brunei (JTB) and DSTCom.

In 2001, JTB upgraded its system using microwave and solar-powered telephones to provide connectivity to even the remotest villages.

Today, JTB's switching network has gone 100% digital. In March 2003, Brunei's telephone numbers were upgraded from six digits to seven digits to increase the capacity of the system from the existing one million lines to 10 million lines.

RAGAM 21 - a network infrastructure based on the "synchronous digital hierarchy" technology - is being used to provide a backbone and platform for electronic commerce, electronic Government, distance learning, smart schools and telemedicine.

JTB provides international direct dialling (IDD) to more than 156 countries. The technology is made available through two international gateways, two satellite systems and a network of optical fibre submarine cables with Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Last year, it was found that the telephone penetration in Brunei was around 23.2 telephone lines per 100 population, a number well above the world's average of 12 and the second highest in Asean.

DSTCom provides cellular mobile telephony services. The density of mobile phone usage per 100 population is 18.7 one of the region's highest.

In fact, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey in 2001 rates Brunei as a country with the eighth highest mobile penetration in the Asia Pacific region.

DSTCom records that as of last year, 191,199 people here out of 357,800 have access to mobile phones.

Apart from telephones, two ISPs provide Internet services. They are BruNet (www.brunet.bn) and Simpur.Net (www.simpur.net.bn).

Other companies have been issued ISP licenses but have not yet begun operations. In October 2003, the Apec Telecommunications and Information Working Group put out a draft recording Brunei's Internet subscribers at 35,000. Internet subscribers to Brunet are 9,772 and SimpurNet 961.

Information Communication

Technology In 2002, His Majesty's Government committed B$1 billion to the implementation of an e-Government and other ICT projects, in line with the objectives of the Eighth National Development Plan, which runs from 2001 to 2005.

The implementation of a paperless e-Government has been given the deadline of 2005. At the same time, the country will be developing its Eco-cyber Park, a software park and an incubator for the dynamic development of IT and telecommunication services.

Training and the extensive use of IT in all sectors have already begun. All schools in Brunei are now equipped with computers.

Currency

Brunei Darussalam operates a Currency Board system and has no Central Bank. The unit currency is the Brunei dollar (BND), divided into 100 cents.

It is on par with the Singapore Dollar. Both are freely traded in their respective countries. The exchange rate of the Brunei Dollar to the US Dollar is roughly around 1.7 while the exchange with the Pound Sterling is about 2.9 or thereabouts. There are currently no exchange controls in Brunei. --Courtesy of Brunei Year Book