Brunei Darussalam is a small country with great potential. It is ranked number one in the Islamic world in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI), which measures a country's quality of life.
Strategically located on the north-west coast of the island of Borneo, right in the heart of Asia, it is just two to three hours flying distance from most ASEAN countries. Brunei has a total land area of 2226 mi² and over 100 mile of coastline along the South China Sea. Sitting on the equator, Brunei Darussalam enjoys an equatorial climate with an average temperature of about 83° Fahrenheit, high humidity and heavy rainfall.
Brunei Darussalam is divided into four districts, namely Brunei-Muara, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. Its capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is located in the Brunei-Muara district. The capital is the centre of Government and business activities. All the other major towns are within a two hour driving distance from Bandar Seri Begawan.
Latest statistics put Brunei Darussalam’s population at 406,000 and growing at an average rate of 1.8% per annum. Brunei Darussalam has a multi-racial society, comprising of 67% Malays and 15% Chinese. Other races such as Indians, indigenous ethnic groups and expatriates make up the rest of the country’s population. Brunei Darussalam has a young population: 54% are in the 20-54 working age group, another 39% are below the age of 19 while only 7% are 55 and above.
Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language) is the official language, but English is also widely spoken and understood. Various dialects of Chinese and Indian are used by the respective communities. Arabic is also taught in schools and institutions of higher learning.
Islam is the official religion of Brunei Darussalam and has been since the 14th century. Brunei takes its religion very seriously and has developed a strong Islamic reputation around the world. However, Brunei also practices religious tolerance as underwritten by the constitution. Other faiths practiced in the State include Christianity and Buddhism. About 66% of the population are Muslim.
Malay (official)/English (widely spoken)
English Common Law/Islamic Syariah Law
Healthcare is a priority to His Majesty’s Government by demonstrated in the provision of a comprehensive health care system for the people of Brunei Darussalam. The main health policy is to provide high quality yet cost effective health care in order to maintain a high standard of living in a clean and healthy environment. Among the objectives are to reduce the infant mortality rate, diseases and disability, promote a healthy way of life and improve the environment.
Brunei Darussalam’s health services are ranked among the best in Asia. Citizens of Brunei Darussalam are charged a nominal fee at public hospitals and health clinics. Apart from public health care there are also private clinics and a private medical centre for those who seeking alternatives.
The Government of His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam provides free education to all Brunei Darussalam citizens and permanent residents who attend government schools. While the current education policy priorities the Malay Language as the official national language, English is most commonly used as the medium of instruction. Arabic is also used in religious schools.
The literacy rate in Brunei Darussalam is about 94.9%, which is among the highest in the world. The United Nations Development Program has ranked Brunei Darussalam 30th in the “High Human Development” category.
Brunei Darussalam’s judiciary system is based on English Common Law. The Supreme Court comprises the High Court and the Court of Appeals, while the Subordinate Court consists of the Magistrate's Courts. A Syariah Court also co-exists with the Supreme Court and deals with Islamic laws. For Muslims, Islamic Syariah Law supersedes civil law in a number of areas. In 1991 the Intermediate Court was established with extensive civil and criminal jurisdiction; although it does not deal with capital offences.
A British protectorate since 1888, Brunei Darussalam and became an independent sovereign Sultanate on 1 January 1984. Brunei Darussalam is governed on the basis of a written constitution which came into effect in 1959. Under the constitution His Majesty the Sultan has executive authority and is assisted and advised by 5 constitutional bodies, namely the Council of Succession, the Council of Cabinet Ministers, the Privy Council, the Religious Council and the Legislative Council.
The present Head of State and Head of Government is His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th monarch to succeed to the throne. His Majesty is also the Prime Minister and heads a team of Cabinet Ministers.