Brunei Darussalam ::    

4 30 N, 114 40 E
constitutional sultanate
1 January 1984 (from UK)
5,770 sq km


Government and politics

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, whose title has passed within the same dynasty since the 15th century, is the head of state and head of government in Brunei. The Sultan is advised by several councils and a cabinet of ministers although he is effectively the supreme ruler. The media is extremely pro-government and the Royal family retains a venerated status within the country. There is no elected legislative body. In September 2004, the Sultan convened an appointed Parliament which had not met since independence in 1984, although it lacks any capacity beyond advising the monarch. Due to the absolute rule of the Sultan, Brunei is one of the most politically stable countries in Asia.

The country has been under hypothetical martial law since a rebellion occurred in the early 1960s and was put down by British troops from Singapore.

Brunei claims territory in Sarawak, such as Limbang, and is one of many nations to lay claim to the disputed Spratly Islands. Several small islands situated between Brunei and Labuan, including Kuraman island, are contested between Brunei and Malaysia. However, they are internationally recognised as part of the latter.

Ethnic groups

Malay 66.8%, Chinese 11.1%, indigenous 3.5%, 
Indian and other 18.6%

The History

The Sultanate of Brunei was very powerful from the 14th through the 16th century. Its realm covered the whole island of Borneo and southern Philippines. European influence gradually brought an end to this regional power. Later, there was a brief war with Spain in which Brunei was victorious. The decline of the Bruneian Empire culminated in the 19th century when Brunei lost much of its territory to the White Rajahs of Sarawak, resulting in its current small landmass and separation into two parts.

There was a small rebellion against the monarchy during the 1960s, which was prevented by the United Kingdom. This event became known as the Brunei Revolt and was partly responsible for the failure to create the North Borneo Federation. The rebellion also affected Brunei's decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation and was the first stage of the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984.

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