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
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
At the same time, keen to sharpen its competitive edge, the
country has made leaps and hounds in the areas of technology
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.
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
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
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
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
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, 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.
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
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.
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.
Annual rate of increase (%)
Population density (per sq km)
Population by age-group (thousands and %)
20 - 54
55 - 64
65 and over
Population by Racial Group (thousands)
Birth rate per 1,000 population
Death rate per 1,000 population
Natural increase rate per 1,000 population
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births
Total marriages (number)
Customary and others
Life expectancy at birth (years)
Total fertility rate (%)
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
Islam is the state religion but it
coexists with other beliefs, which are openly practised.
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.
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
• 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
• Council of Succession • A Privy Council
• Council of Cabinet Ministers • Religious Council
• Legislative Council
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
The non-oil sectors of the economy are: manufacturing,
services and trade, tourism and high technology.
Brunei's judicial system is based on English common law. For
Muslims, the Syari'ah law supersedes civil law in a number
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
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
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.
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
Medical care for those aged below 12 years is provided free
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
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.
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
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%.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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