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Flag of Brunei
Map of Brunei
Introduction Brunei
The Sultanate of Brunei's heyday occurred between the 15th and 17th centuries, when its control extended over coastal areas of northwest Borneo and the southern Philippines. Brunei subsequently entered a period of decline brought on by internal strife over royal succession, colonial expansion of European powers, and piracy. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate; independence was achieved in 1984. Brunei benefits from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, the source of one of the highest per capita GDPs in the less developed countries. The same family has ruled Brunei for over six centuries.
Geography Brunei
Southeastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia
Geographic coordinates:
4 30 N, 114 40 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 5,770 sq km
water: 500 sq km
land: 5,270 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries:
total: 381 km
border countries: Malaysia 381 km
161 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM or to median line
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; hot, humid, rainy
flat coastal plain rises to mountains in east; hilly lowland in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Bukit Pagon 1,850 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, timber
Land use:
arable land: 0.57%
permanent crops: 0.76%
other: 98.67% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
10 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
typhoons, earthquakes, and severe flooding are very rare
Environment - current issues:
seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
close to vital sea lanes through South China Sea linking Indian and Pacific Oceans; two parts physically separated by Malaysia; almost an enclave of Malaysia
People Brunei
350,898 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.2% (male 54,038; female 51,833)
15-64 years: 67% (male 125,051; female 110,257)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 4,609; female 5,110) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.06% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
20.06 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
3.38 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
3.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
13.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.06 years
female: 76.56 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.68 years
Total fertility rate:
2.4 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
less than 100 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Bruneian(s)
adjective: Bruneian
Ethnic groups:
Malay 67%, Chinese 15%, indigenous 6%, other 12%
Muslim (official) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs and other 10%
Malay (official), English, Chinese
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.2%
male: 92.6%
female: 83.4% (1995 est.)
Government Brunei
Country name:
conventional long form: Negara Brunei Darussalam
conventional short form: Brunei
Government type:
constitutional sultanate
Bandar Seri Begawan
Administrative divisions:
4 districts (daerah-daerah, singular - daerah); Belait, Brunei and Muara, Temburong, Tutong
1 January 1984 (from UK)
National holiday:
National Day, 23 February (1984); note - 1 January 1984 was the date of independence from the UK, 23 February 1984 was the date of independence from British protection
29 September 1959 (some provisions suspended under a State of Emergency since December 1962, others since independence on 1 January 1984)
Legal system:
based on English common law; for Muslims, Islamic Shari'a law supersedes civil law in a number of areas
Executive branch:
chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Cabinet Ministers appointed and presided over by the monarch; deals with executive matters; note - there is also a Religious Council (members appointed by the monarch) that advises on religious matters, a Privy Council (members appointed by the monarch) that deals with constitutional matters, and the Council of Succession (members appointed by the monarch) that determines the succession to the throne if the need arises
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Council or Majlis Masyuarat Megeri (a privy council that serves only in a consultative capacity; NA seats; members appointed by the monarch)
elections: last held in March 1962
note: in 1970 the Council was changed to an appointive body by decree of the monarch; an elected Legislative Council is being considered as part of constitutional reform, but elections are unlikely for several years
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice and judges are sworn in by the monarch for three-year terms)
Political parties and leaders:
Brunei Solidarity National Party or PPKB in Malay [Haji Mohd HATTA bin Haji Zainal Abidin, president]; the PPKB is the only legal political party in Brunei; it was registered in 1985, but became largely inactive after 1988, it was revived in 1995 and again in 1998; it has less than 200 registered party members; other parties include Brunei People's Party or PRB (banned in 1962) and Brunei National Democratic Party (registered in May 1965, deregistered by the Brunei Government in 1988)
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador PUTEH ibni Mohammad Alam
FAX: [1] (202) 885-0560
telephone: [1] (202) 237-1838
chancery: 3520 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Gene B. CHRISTY
embassy: Third Floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan
mailing address: PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507
telephone: [673] (2) 229670
FAX: [673] (2) 225293
Flag description:
yellow with two diagonal bands of white (top, almost double width) and black starting from the upper hoist side; the national emblem in red is superimposed at the center; the emblem includes a swallow-tailed flag on top of a winged column within an upturned crescent above a scroll and flanked by two upraised hands
Economy Brunei
Economy - overview:
This small, wealthy economy is a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition. Crude oil and natural gas production account for nearly half of GDP. Per capita GDP is far above most other Third World countries, and substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. The government provides for all medical services and subsidizes rice and housing. Brunei's leaders are concerned that steadily increased integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion although it became a more prominent player by serving as chairman for the 2000 APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum. Plans for the future include upgrading the labor force, reducing unemployment, strengthening the banking and tourist sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base beyond oil and gas.
purchasing power parity - $6.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $18,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 45%
services: 50% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1% (1999 est.)
Labor force:
143,400 (1999 est.); note - includes foreign workers and military personnel
note: temporary residents make up 41% of labor force (1991) (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
government 48%, production of oil, natural gas, services, and construction 42%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10% (2001 est.)
revenues: $2.5 billion
expenditures: $2.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.35 billion (1997 est.)
petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction
Industrial production growth rate:
4% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production:
2.22 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
2.065 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, vegetables, fruits, chickens, water buffalo
$3 billion f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil, natural gas, refined products
Exports - partners:
Japan 42%, US 17%, South Korea 14%, Thailand 3% (1999)
$1.4 billion c.i.f. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Singapore 34%, UK 15%, Malaysia 15%, US 5% (1999)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$4.3 million (1995) (1995)
Bruneian dollar (BND)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Bruneian dollars per US dollar - 1.8388 (January 2002), 1.8917 (2001), 1.7240 (2000), 1.6950 (1999), 1.6736 (1998), 1.4848 (1997); note - the Bruneian dollar is at par with the Singapore dollar
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Brunei
Telephones - main lines in use:
79,000 (1996)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
43,524 (1996)
Telephone system:
general assessment: service throughout country is excellent; international service good to Europe, US, and East Asia
domestic: every service available
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean); digital submarine cable links to Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines (2001)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 10, shortwave 0 (1998)
329,000 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (1997)
201,900 (1998)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
35,000 (2002)
Transportation Brunei
total: 13 km (private line)
narrow gauge: 13 km 0.610-m gauge (2001 est.)
total: 1,712 km
paved: 1,284 km
unpaved: 428 km (1996)
209 km; navigable by craft drawing less than 1.2 m
crude oil 135 km; petroleum products 418 km; natural gas 920 km
Ports and harbors:
Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait, Muara, Seria, Tutong
Merchant marine:
total: 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 348,476 GRT/340,635 DWT
ships by type: liquefied gas 7
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: United Kingdom 7 (2002 est.)
2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
3 (2002)
Military Brunei
Military branches:
Land Forces, Navy, Air Force, Royal Brunei Police
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 108,921 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 62,864 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 3,005 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$343 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.1% (FY98)
Transnational Issues Brunei
Disputes - international:
Brunei established an exclusive economic fishing zone encompassing Louisa Reef in southern Spratly Islands in 1984, but makes no public territorial claim to the offshore reefs
Illicit drugs:
drug trafficking and illegally importing controlled substances are serious offenses in Brunei and carry a mandatory death penalty

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003