Scholarships for doctoral study are awarded by Brunei Darussalam to
citizens of other Commonwealth countries under the Commonwealth
Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.
Joined Commonwealth: 1984
Population: 418,000 (2013)
GDP: –0.5% p.a. 1990–2013
UN HDI: world ranking 30
Official language: Malay
Timezone: GMT plus 8hr
Currency: Brunei dollar (Br$)
Area: 5,765 sq km
Capital city: Bandar Seri Begawan
Population density (per sq. km): 73
Brunei Darussalam (Brunei – ‘Abode of Peace’) is a small state in
South-East Asia on the north-west coast of the island of Borneo, in the
Indonesian Archipelago. Its 161 km coastline faces the South China Sea.
On the land side, it is enclosed by the Malaysian state of Sarawak,
which divides it in two.
The districts of Brunei–Muara, Tutong and Belait make up the larger,
western part of the country; Temburong district the east.
Bandar Seri Begawan (capital, pop. 76,200 in 2009, comprising Kampong
Ayer 42,500), Kuala Belait (28,400), Seria (28,300), Tutong (21,500),
Muara and Bangar.
The country has 3,030 km of roads, 81 per cent paved. The main
deep-water port is at Muara, with a dedicated container terminal. The
Brunei, Belait and Tutong rivers provide an important means of
transport. Passenger vessels and water-taxis run between the shallow
draught port at Bandar Seri Begawan, Temburong district, and the
Malaysian port of Limbang. Brunei International Airport is six km
north-east of the capital.
Brunei Darussalam is a member of Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation,
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Non-Aligned Movement,
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations and World Trade
The coastal plain is intersected by rivers descending from the hilly
hinterland. To the east are mountains, the highest point being Bukit
Pagon at 1,812m. Most towns and villages are beside estuaries.
Tropical, with high humidity and heavy rainfall. There is no distinct
wet season; the wettest months are January and November. Much of the
rain falls in sudden thundery showers.
The most significant environmental issue is seasonal smoke/haze
resulting from forest fires in Indonesia.
Mangrove swamps lie along the coast, and forest covers 72 per cent of
the land area, a large part of this being primary forest, dense in
places and of great genetic diversity. There are 15 forest reserves,
covering about 40 per cent of the total land area. The government plans
to increase the area of the forest reserves. Around 15 per cent of the
land area is cultivated.
Most of the mammals are small and nocturnal, including tree shrews, moon
rats and mouse deer. There are numerous bird species, especially
hornbills. Some 33 mammal species and 22 bird species are thought to be
The pre-Islamic history of Brunei is unclear, but archaeological
evidence shows the country to have been trading with the Asian mainland
as early as CE 518. Islam became predominant during the 14th century and
the Brunei Sultanate rose to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries,
when it controlled coastal areas of North-West Borneo, parts of
Kalimantan and the Philippines. The Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish began
arriving after the 16th century. Brunei lost outlying possessions to the
Spanish and the Dutch and its power gradually declined as the British
and Dutch colonial empires expanded.
In the 19th century the Sultan of Brunei sought British support in
defending the coast against Dayak pirates, and ennobled James Brooke, a
British adventurer, as Rajah of Sarawak in 1839. The British proceeded
to annex the island of Labuan in 1846. North Borneo became a British
protected state in 1888 and Brunei voluntarily accepted the status of a
British protected state under the Sultan, with Britain having charge of
its foreign relations. The loss of Limbang district to Sarawak in 1890
split Brunei into two and remains an obstacle to good relations with
Malaysia to this day.
In 1906 a treaty was signed between Britain and Brunei making Brunei a
full protectorate. The treaty assured the succession of the ruling
dynasty, with the arrangement that a British resident would advise the
Sultan on all matters except those concerning local customs and
In 1929 large resources of oil were discovered in Seria; these and
subsequent discoveries made Brunei a wealthy country. In 1959 a written
constitution was introduced, giving Brunei internal self- rule and
allowing for a legislative council. The residency agreement of 1906 was
revoked, transferring the resident’s power to the Sultan and appointed
officials below him.
During 1962 there were sporadic and unsuccessful attempts at rebellion,
instigated by the North Borneo Liberation Army. These were put down with
the help of British Gurkha units flown in from Singapore and the Sultan
declared a state of emergency. This has been renewed every two years
In the 1960s, Brunei considered merging with the Federation of Malaysia,
which at the time included the provinces of the Malaysian peninsula,
Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. The idea was opposed by the Brunei
People’s Party, which at that time held 16 seats in the 33-member
legislative council, and which proposed instead the creation of a state
comprising Northern Borneo, Sarawak and Sabah. The Sultan finally
decided against joining the Federation.
In 1971, under an agreement with the UK, Brunei ceased to be a British
protected state. The constitution was amended to give the Sultan full
control over all internal matters, the UK retaining responsibility for
defence and foreign affairs. Brunei became a fully independent sovereign
state on 1 January 1984.
Grainger's World - The
Kingdom of Brunei
The Birth of Brunei
15 Things You Didn't Know
About Sultan Of Brunei (Hassanal Bolkiah)
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