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Brunei

BRUNEI

Brunei Darussalam

Major City:
Bandar Seri Begawan

Other Cities:
Jerudong, Kuala Belait, Seria

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated April 1992. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

The oil-and gas-rich state of BRUNEI , on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, is one of Asia's oldest kingdoms. Early Chinese records refer to it variously as "Polo," or "Puni." The present sultanate dates to 1514, and the conversion to Islam; during this era, Brunei was the center of a vast empire which stretched far north to the Philippines. By the end of the 19th century, however, most of its power had been lost in the colonial expansion of South-East Asia.

Brunei Darussalam, the country's official name (Abode of Peace), was a protectorate of the United Kingdom from 1888 to 1984, when it gained full autonomy. For a quarter of a century before independence, it had been a self-governing constitutional monarchy, with the British assuming responsibility for foreign affairs and defense.

MAJOR CITY

Bandar Seri Begawan

The capital and main center of population, approximately 75,000, (and site of the only international airport) is Bandar Seri Begawan at the northeastern corner of the main part of the State. Downtown area consists of shops, banks, government offices, and hotels. Several places of interest are situated along the bank of the Brunei River.

Food

Subject to seasonal variations and occasional shortages, a wide variety of foods is available in Brunei. Fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables are available locally. Canned and frozen vegetables from the U.S., Europe, and Australia are sold at supermarkets. Frozen meat and poultry are imported from Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, or the U.S.

Fruit is limited to definite seasons. Apples, peaches, pears, oranges, grapes, and plums are imported seasonally from Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Buy local fruits such as bananas, papayas, pineapples, and grapefruit at outdoor markets and supermarkets.

Sterilized milk and powdered milk are available in Brunei. Fresh milk is available but expensive.

Any local foods, as well as various Western foods, can be catered.

Soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7-Up, Sprite, Orange, etc., are available and are inexpensive. Sales of alcoholic beverages are currently prohibited.

Clothing

An extensive summer wardrobe is the only type of clothing necessary for Brunei. Order ladies clothing via mail facilities, but ready-made clothing is available in Brunei. Sizes are limited and fit may be difficult. Ordering usually takes several weeks. Sports attire varies.

Men: Lightweight summer suits are appropriate for office wear; slacks and sport shirts for casual wear. Acceptable dry-cleaners exist. Tails and morning dress are not worn in Brunei. English and U.S. men's shoes, underwear, shirts, neckties, socks, and ready-made suits are available but are expensive, and the selection of sizes, styles, and quality varies.

Women: Conservative dress is the rule. Bring cotton summer dresses, slacks, skirts, blouses, and pant-suits for all occasions. Shorts are not worn publicly but can be worn at poolside or at beaches. Skirts and blouses, dresses, and pantsuits are worn to the office. Stores selling women's clothing offer various ready-made dresses, skirts, and ensembles at medium-to-high prices, but sizes, selection, fit, and quality are limited.

Lingerie and stockings are available at reasonable prices, but selection is limited. Formal hats and gloves are seldom worn. European shoes of limited sizes are available at varying prices.

Children: Clothing and shoes for children and babies are available at reasonable prices. A wide variety of fabric is available at reasonable cost. Local dressmakers and tailors have been used with varying degrees of success, but good tailors are expensive.

Supplies and Services

Toilet articles and cosmetics are available but are much more expensive than in the U.S.

Most common brands of American and British cigarettes, some American brands of cigars and pipe tobacco and smoking accessories are available at prices comparable to, or lower than, U.S. prices.

There are local bookstores but prices are 50 to 100 percent higher than those in the U.S., and the selection is not good.

Several beauty shops in Brunei are available and moderately priced.

Religious Activities

Both Roman Catholic and Anglican Church services are conducted in the downtown area of the city at their respective facilities.

Education

Brunei has no American schools. The International School has an essentially British curriculum and provides an adequate education from kindergarten through grade 6.

The school operates from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm. But if your child is having difficulty in a subject, bring some additional study materials to assist you in working with your child, as the British system here does not encourage parental involvement as an American school would. Other schools open to expatriate children are Mission schools and the Chinese school, which is also adequate through the elementary grades. A good boarding school is available in Singapore.

Space at all schools is limited. There is a long waiting list.

Sports

Tennis, swimming, badminton, table tennis, billiards, soccer, golf, basketball, sailing, windsurfing, bowling, and squash are available in Brunei. There are two golf coursesone at Pantai Mentiri near Bandar Seri Begawan and the other in Seria, which manages the Brunei Shell Recreation Club. Obtain permission to play at both courses in advance. A member of the club must accompany guests. Memberships are available at Pantai Menteri.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a symbol of Brunei's adherence to Islam, is one of the most magnificent in Asia. It is an edifice of classical Islamic architecture consisting of gold mosaic, marble, and stained glass. Its minaret, which has a lift inside and distinctive gold dome, rises to 166 feet and 160 feet.

Linked to the mosque and built in the middle of the lagoon is an elegant concrete boat that resembles a 16th-century royal barge.

The mosque has been the country's most important feature since its completion in 1958.

The official residence of the Sultan of Brunei is the Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan, which was completed in 1982, and believed to be the largest royal palace in this part of the world.

The Sultan of Brunei, as Prime Minister, has offices located in the Istana, which has become a symbol of national pride. In keeping with ancient Brunei, trading the Ruler's Istana is the seat of Government, and the Council of Cabinet Ministers meets under the presidency of His Majesty.

The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Aquarium, housed in the Churchill Memorial Building, has various species of tropical fish found in Brunei waters.

The Lapau (Royal Ceremonial Hall) and the Dewan Majlis (Parliament House) form a sprawling complex featuring a blend of traditional Malay and Western architecture.

The Lapau, which contains the Patarana (Throne), where numerous solemn ceremonies are held, is beautifully decorated in exquisite gold motifs. In the Lapau on August 1, 1968, the Sultan was crowned the 29th Sultan of Brunei.

The famed and centuries-old Kampong Air (water village) is composed of several villages housing 38,000 persons. It is an extensive collection of houses on stilts in the Brunei River. The Government provides a wide range of facilities that include schools, clinics, a Post Office, and electricity and water supplies. A boat cruise along the Brunei River is a pleasurable experience and a must for all tourists. Single women should always be accompanied.

The Arts and Handicraft Center is situated on the bank of the Brunei River, facing Kampong Air, and, thus commands a panoramic view. It offers a wide selection of locally made silverware, brasserie, and bronzeware crafted and inspired by the rich Malay cultural heritage. The silver, brass, and bronze are hammered and crafted by hand into a variety of articles, such as jugs, trays, gongs, boxes, napkin rings, spoons, threads, bracelets, etc. There are also an assortment of beautifully woven baskets and mats of bamboo and pandan. Brunei, during the 15th century, was a dominant power in the region under its ruler Sultan Bolkiah, the 5th Sultan of Brunei, whose mausoleum rests on the bank of the Brunei River at Kota Batu, near the Brunei Museum.

The Brunei Museum is of unique eastern architecture and is situated on the picturesque bank of the Brunei River. It is about 4 miles from the town center and has a large collection of exhibits, including brass-ware, bronzeware, Chinese porcelain and ceramics, historical records, and artifacts of the cultural heritage of this country.

The beaches at Brunei are fine golden sands with scenic picnic spots. However, rusted debris and broken glass pose serious threats to badly littered areas where the waters are calmer. The beaches facing the South China Sea are substantially cleaner, but bites from sandflies and stings from jellyfish are often a nuisance.

Although the above activities are interesting and diverting for a few weeks, they provide no relief from Brunei's climate, both atmospheric and cultural.

Entertainment

Brunei, as an entertainment center, is undistinguished. Occasionally, the music society and other diplomatic missions sponsor concerts, but legitimate theater, opera, and ballet do not exist in Brunei. The one local movie theater is not a place for family diversion. There are no night-clubs. Art exhibits are held occasionally at the Brunei Museum and foreign missions.

Dining out is one of the most popular forms of recreation and entertainment in Brunei. Restaurants are plentiful but expensive. An international hotel, the Sheraton, has dining rooms, a bar currently not used to serving alcoholic beverages, and a coffee shop. Other establishments regularly offer specials on food from foreign countries.

Videotaped movies are available in Brunei for the VHS system. Quality of recordings is poor. TV and radio services are broadcast in English, Malay, and Chinese on the Brunei channel. Two Malaysian TV channels can also be received.

Social Activities

Many foreigners belong to one or more of the various sports and recreation clubs available in Brunei, such as the yacht club or tennis club. Social life is restricted to home entertainment among members of the diplomatic and business communities.

OTHER CITIES

A short drive to the northeast of the capital, JERUDONG is known as "the playground of the Sultan." The biggest attraction is the new amusement park which opened in 1994 to celebrate the Sultan's birthday. The park covers 104 hectares with a wide variety of thrill rides and amusements from roller coasters to a calmer carousel A children's park includes playgrounds, mazes and swings. A large auditorium offers musical entertainment, which has included two concerts in 1996 given by Michael Jackson. The Musical Fountain in the park offers a 20-minute high-tech laser, music and light show every night. Behind the park is Jerundong Beach, which offers a lovely site for swimming. Admission to the park and all rides is free.

Jerudong Park, a grand polo stadium complex with a beautiful equestrian center, a golf course and facilities for trapshooting and croquet, is where the Sultan goes for recreation. However, since entry to the park is by invitation only, you may only get a chance to see it through special tours.

There are several fine hotels in this area and tour packages are offered through various agencies.

KUALA BELAIT is a river port situated west of Seria, near the South China Sea. The city is a district capital surrounded by oil fields. There is a government vocational school here, and a coastal road runs eastward toward Bandar Seri Begawan. Kuala Belait's population is approximately 25,000.

SERIA is a major oil center of some 24,000 residents, located on the South China seacoast about 40 miles southwest of Bandar Seri Begawan. This is also the headquarters of Brunei's only oil and gas corporation, Brunei Shell Petroleum. The oil produced in the region has supplied most of the funds used in the country's growth.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Brunei occupies 3,459 miles on the northern coast of the island of Borneo and is 350 statute miles north of the Equator at 5×N, 115×E. It comprises two separate areas: the capital area and a thinly populated enclave to the east, consisting mostly of jungle. Separating the two is a salient of the Malaysian State of Sarawak, which on the landward side surrounds both parts of Brunei. The north shore is on the South China Sea.

From the 14th to the 16th century, Brunei was the center of a powerful empire covering most of the northern part of the island of Borneo and extending north through the Philippines to Manila.

By the 19th century, much of Brunei's empire had been whittled away by piracy, wars, and the spread of European nations into the Far East. By the end of the 19th century, Brunei was a British protectorate, and, in 1906, the British Resident system was introduced. The discovery of major oil fields in the western end of the State in the 1920s brought economic stability to Brunei and created a new style of life for the population.

Constitutionally, Brunei was regulated by an agreement with Britain that was concluded in 1959 and was amended in 1971. By this agreement, the State was internally self-governing, with Britain looking after only foreign affairs and having a consultative role in external defense. In 1984, Brunei resumed full sovereign status and assumed responsibility for its own defense and foreign affairs. The country has joined the U.N., the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Brunei is a small oil and gas-producing state. The oil and gas fields are centered in the towns of Seria and Kuala Belait, 67 miles southwest of the capital. Other large towns are Tutong, which is midway between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuala Belait, and Bangar in the Temburong District.

The country is mainly primary and secondary tropical rain forest with only a narrow coastal strip from Kuala Belait to Bandar Seri Begawan cultivated. The rain forest produces as much as 146 inches of rain to the interior but only about 108 inches a year is recorded on the coast. The climate is equatorial with uniform temperatures and high humidity.

Brunei has no personal income tax, and the people enjoy, among other things, free education and medical care.

Population

Of a total population of approximately 331,000, 64 percent are Malays, 20 percent are Chinese, and 16 percent are non-Malay indigenous people, mainly Ibans and Dusuns, as well as several other minor tribal groupings. Europeans make up a small percentage of the population.

Malay is the official language, but English is spoken almost everywhere in the State. The Chinese community speaks Hokkien; other languages and dialects include Hakka, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Hindi.

Public Institutions

Brunei is a traditional Islamic monarchy, with supreme political power vested in the Sultan. He is assisted and advised by the four councils: the Privy Council, the Religious Council, the Council of Cabinet Ministers and the Council of Succession. All members are appointed by the Sultan. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance.

Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the Sultan.

Arts, Science, and Education

Brunei has 177 primary schools and 29 secondary schools (including non-Government schools). Children begin school at age 5, and education is available for 10 years (6 years for primary and 4 years for lower secondary). However, no programs or facilities exist for disabled children or for handicapped children.

Brunei's education system has been extended since 1985 by the foundation of the nation's own universitythe University of Brunei Darussalam. Currently, the University has four facultiesEducation, Science, Arts, and Social Science and Management.

The small population and the need to build up generalist skills rapidly is reflected upon the University's decision to concentrate initially on only these few selected disciplines. The development of degree courses such as Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Engineering, and Accounting were not deemed economically justifiable, since they are readily available overseas. The University's academic staff is mainly non-Bruneian.

Other institutions at tertiary level include an agricultural training center and various technical institutes. These are designed to meet skill shortages.

Many schools for expatriate children are located in Brunei, including the International School, where instruction is in English, and missionary schools. Currently, schooling is available from kindergarten through grade 6. The International School is considering opening a grade 7 class, but this is still in the planning stage.

Commerce and Industry

Oil and natural gas, the economic backbone of the country, represent 9% of the total exports of Brunei and 56% of its gross domestic product. Some 31% of Brunei's petroleum and 6 million tons of liquefied natural gas are exported to Japan annually.

Apart from oil and gas, forestry is playing an increasing role in the country's economy. The Government is also placing greater emphasis on agricultural development to enable the country to reduce its dependence on the importation of foodstuffs.

Transportation

Local

Most Bruneians own cars and as a result, public transport and taxis are not in great demand, although buses operate between the major centers. Chauffeur driven or rental cars are available for hire through major hotels or the airport.

Taxis are not metered and fares, though negotiable, are expensive. The fare from the airport to Bandar Seri Begawan varies from about US$12 to US$29, depending on taxi availability and the driver's whim.

Water taxis are the most common form of transport in Kampong Air, Brunei's renowned water village. Regular water taxis and boat services ply the routes between Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangar, Limbang (in Sarawak), Labuan, and some towns in the Malaysian State of Sabah. But single women should be accompanied when using these services.

Regional

Air transportation is commonly used for destinations outside Brunei. Several international airlines and the national airline, Royal Brunei Airlines, serves Brunei.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

Local telephone calls are free (except by public phone booth). Long-distance telephone, FAX, and telegraph service to the U.S. is good but expensive. Use of public phones requires the pre-purchase of a calling card, because the phones are not coin operated.

Radio and TV

The government-owned Radio Television Brunei (RTB) broadcasts daily on AM and FM from 6:30 am to 10 pm, with programs in English, Malay, and Chinese. Programs are varied and international news is reported twice a dayat 12:15 pm and 9:15 pm.

One local TV channel and two Malaysian channels are received. Brunei programs, which have included some award winning documentaries, comprise about 40 percent of programming. Other ASEAN countries, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. import the remaining 60 percent. CNN headline news is broadcast 6 days a week, from 7 to 7:30 pm via Malaysian TV. Ownership of satellite dishes is strictly regulated.

The TV system is PAL as opposed to the NTSC system used in the U.S.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Western publications are available. Occasionally, censored copies of Time and Newsweek are available at local vendors. The ASEAN edition of Reader's Digest is also available. Other U.S. magazines appear on the newsstands about a month late and at a price two or three times their U.S. price. Many outdated magazines are available at newsstands. One English-language newspaper, the Borneo Bulletin, is published weekly in Brunei. International newspapers available daily include the Straits Times (Singapore), the New Straits Times (Malaysia), the Asian Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune.

A limited selection of American and British books on various subjects is available in selected bookshops at 50 to 100 percent above publisher prices. The library downtown has a collection of books in English.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Health services are free for Brunei citizens with a nominal charge for permanent residents and expatriates. Health care is a three-tier system, with health clinics providing primary care, health centers providing secondary care, and district hospitals providing tertiary and specialized care.

The most important medical facility in Brunei is the 550-bed central referral hospital in Bandar Seri Begawan known as Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (RIPAS Hospital). This hospital, built at US$95 million, provides diagnostic and therapeutic facilities for the entire country.

Most doctors and dentists in the country are non-Western expatriates. For specialized care, patients are sent abroad.

Routine dentistry is available. Opticians and optometrists are available, and there are many doctors in private practice.

Bring an extra set of glasses or contact lenses, if needed, from the U.S. If you or a family member are taking long-term medications or allergy injections, bring a supply and arrange beforehand for regular refills.

Community Health

Respiratory infections, colds, coughs, sore throats, etc., lead the list of common complaints. Middle-ear and external-ear infections, sinusitis, and bronchitis are not uncommon.

Sanitation of human waste has improved over the years. However, other waste carried by contaminated water often runs in the open storm drainage system, resulting in chronic unpleasant odors. Some town and residential areas are marred by indiscriminate dumping of waste and garbage. The Municipal Department provides garbage collection services for about US$9 a month to most residential areas. Although scheduled regularly, this service is often intermittent.

Preventive Measures

Clean fruits and vegetables well before eating. Cook meat thoroughly. Insect control is rudimentary. Malaria suppressants are not necessary in Brunei.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 23 National Day

May 31 Armed Forces Day

July 15 HM the Sultan's Birthday

Dec. 25 Christmas

Prophet Muhammad's Birthday*

Israk Mikarj*

Ramadan*

Revelation of the Holy Koran*

Chinese New Year*

Id al-Fitr*

Id al-Adha*

Islamic New Year*

*variable

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs and Duties

Most travel to Brunei is by air. Several airlines provide direct, nonstop flights to Brunei on most weekdays from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Some of the more popular international airlines serving Brunei are Singapore, Thai, Malaysian, and Philippines Airlines. The most direct route from the U.S. to Brunei is via the west coast, with connections made at any Asian cities serving Brunei.

U.S. passport-holders may take advantage of Brunei's participation in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP), which allows visitors to Brunei for business or pleasure to obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. The existing airport tax upon arrival/departure is Brunei dollars 12. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the consular section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; Tel:(202) 342-0159 (http://www.embassy.org/embassies/bn.html).

Brunei customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, religious materials and alcohol. For non-Muslims, very limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted (i.e., 12 bottles of beer and two bottles of wine/spirits). It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, and cannabis of more than 20 grams, carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts carries a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning.

Americans living in or visiting Brunei are encouraged to register in person or via telephone or fax at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan and obtain updated information on travel and security within the country. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. The U.S. mailing address is American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673)(2)229-670, fax number (673)(2)225-293 and e-mail address [email protected]. The after hours number for emergency calls is (673)(8) 730-691.

Pets

Travelers coming to Brunei with pets must request entry for the pet by writing to:

Veterinary Officer
Veterinary Clinic
Ministry of Agriculture
Bandar Seri Begawan
Brunei Darussalam

Include in the letter, all particulars about the pet and a health certificate. The clinic requires at least 2 weeks' notice before the pet's arrival.

Quarantine is not required for pets arriving from England, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and other parts of Borneo. If arriving from other parts of the world, the pet is quarantined for about 2 weeks. No fee is imposed for incoming pets, but an outgoing fee of US$1 is charged for each pet. Pets must arrive in Brunei as cargo.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The monetary unit of Brunei is the ringgit (dollar), which is issued in notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 10,000. The coins are in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. Currently, US$1 is equivalent to about B$1.70. The exchange rate fluctuates daily.

The Brunei dollar is at par with the Singapore dollar, and the currencies are interchangeable in both countries.

Brunei uses the metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline is sold by the liter; temperatures are cited in degrees Celsius; and distances are measured in kilometers.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Brunei may register in person or via telephone with the U.S. Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan and obtain updated information on travel and security within the country. The U.S Embassy is located in Teck Guan Plaza, Third Floor, Jalan Sultan, in Bandar Seri Begawan. The mailing address is American Embassy PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96534; the telephone number is (673)(2) 229-670; the fax number is (673) (2) 225-293.

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Beccari, Odoardo. Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo. London, 1904. The best natural history of Borneo.

bin Mohamad, Mahatir. The Malay Dilemma. The famous book-length essay by the author who is now the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Brooke, Sylvia and H.H. Queen of the Headhunters. London, 1936. An eccentric but quite interesting account by the wife of one of the White Rajahs.

Brown, D.E. Brunei: The Structure and History of a Bornean Malay Sultanate. Brunei Museum, 1970.

Chalfont, Lord Alun. By God's Will. A flattering portrait of the Sultan of Brunei penned by Lord Chalfont, one of the few authors to have gained the royal confidence.

Crisswell, Colin N. Rajoh Charles BrookeMonarch of all He Surveyed. Oxford University Press: 1983.

Finlay, Hugh, and Peter Turner. Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei: A Travel Survival Kit. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 1991.

Harrison, Tom. World Within, A Borneo Story. Singapore, 1984. A fascinating account of the Iban people by an officer who recruited them to fight the Japanese in World War II.

Krausse, Sylvia C. Engelen and Gerald H. Brunei. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1988. An annotated bibliography.

Leake Jr., David. BruneiThe Modern Southeast-Asian Islamic State. A former sub-editor of the Borneo Bulletin, Brunei's only English-language newspaper, Leake examines Brunei's history and its future. Hundreds of anecdotes and insights into the Brunei Malay character. Written after the author was expelled from Brunei.

Mac Donald, Malcolm. Borneo People. Oxford University Press: 1985. The best account of the racial and tribal group make up of North Borneo written by a former British High Commissioner from Singapore.

McArthur, M.H.S. Report on Brunei in 1904. Athens, OH, 1987.

Pringle, Robert. Rajas and Rebels. Offers another account of the Brookes.

Ranjit, Singh. Brunei, 1839-1983: The Problems of Political Survival. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Runciman, Sir Steven. The White Rajahs of Sarawak. Cambridge, 1960. The best account of the Brooke family's involvement in North Borneo and its relationship to the Sultanate of Brunei.

St. John, Spenser. Life in the Forests of the Far East. London, 1862. A classic mid-19th century description of the environment, people, and customs of Borneo.

Siddayao, Corazon Morales. The Offshore Petroleum Resources of South-East Asia, Potential Conflict Situations and Related Economic Considerations. Oxford University Press: 1980. Title is self-explanatory.

. The Supply of Petroleum Reserves in South-East Asia, Economic Implication of Evolving Property Rights Arrangements. Oxford University Press: 1980. Title is self-explanatory.

Singh, Rajit. Brunei 1839-1983: The Problems of Political Survival. Oxford University Press. The only available account in book form of political developments in Brunei in this century and particularly since the Second World War.

Tregonning, K.G.P. British North Borneo.

Turnbull, C.M. A History of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1989.

Weaver, Mary Ann. "In the Sultan's Palace." The New Yorker. October 7, 1991. A whimsical account of Mary Ann Weaver's 6 weeks in Brunei. Charming and humorous accounts of the befuddled Bruneian bureaucracy.

Zaini Haji Ahmad, Haji. The People's Party of Brunei: Selected Documents. Petaling Jaya: Institute of Social Analysis, 1988.

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Brunei

Brunei

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Brunei Darussalam
Region: Oceania
Population: 336,376
Language(s): Malay, English, Chinese
Literacy Rate: 88.2%


The small (2,226 square miles) South-East Asian Sultanate of Brunei is located on the northwestern coast of the island of Borneo, sandwiched between two states belonging to neighboring Malaysia. The official name of this wealthy, oil-rich country that became independent of British control (although it was never an outright colony) in 1984 is Brunei Darussalam (Arabic for "Abode of Peace"). It has a predominantly Malay Muslim population with a substantial Chinese minority, many of whom are classified as non-citizens. One striking educational feature of this country, which due to its prosperity ranks third in the world in per capita income, is that citizens of Brunei enjoy the benefit of access to free schooling at all levels.

Historically, the first Malay language school began in what was then Brunei Town (now the capital and renamed Bandar Sri Begawan) in 1912. Similar schools in other towns followed it. A Chinese school was established in 1916, followed by an English medium one in 1931. The growth in schools, both government and private, continued through World War II and beyond. The first five-year plan for economic development, beginning in 1954, resulted in the creation of the Ministry of Education.

This Ministry, which was subsequently reorganized in 1974 on the basis of an official governmental commission report, continues to oversee educational policy and allocate resources to all schools under its control. All government and private schools are overseen by the Ministry of Education in conformity with the Education Act of 1984. All primary and secondary schools follow a common curriculum that is set by the Ministry. Although there have been both official and unofficial recommendations urging the adoption of Malay as the sole medium of instruction, currently dwibahasa (bilingualism, using both English and Malay for teaching purposes) is being practiced. Due to Brunei's small population, many teachers have historically been expatriates from neighboring countries in Asia or from Australia and Britain. One provision of the Education Act is the requirement for private school teachers to register with the Ministry.

Based on Brunei's Islamic heritage and government by monarchy, its official educational philosophy emphasizes Koranic elements, such as faith and piety, along with loyalty to the Sultan. At the same time, its past reliance on Britain has resulted in educational structures and curricula that draw from that nation's educational system. Brunei's educational policies, as stated by the Ministry of Education, aim to achieve the following. They wish to provide:

  • greater scope for the use of Malay in education;
  • a total of 12 years of education for all students;
  • a system of integrated curricula and public examinations;
  • Islamic religious education as part of the school curriculum;
  • facilities for education in scientific and technological fields;
  • appropriate co-curricular activities;
  • access to higher education as appropriate; and
  • educational structures that are in harmony with national needs.

In the year 2000, a total of 221 educational institutions were in Brunei. These consisted of 175 primary schools, 39 secondary schools, 2 vocational schools, and 1 each of the following: technical college, nursing college, mechanical training center, technological institute, and university, the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (or UBD). There were 32,316 students in government primary schools and 27,914 in government secondary schools. In addition 24,370 students attended private primary schools and 4,038 were in private secondary schools. There were 2,867 students at the University of Brunei while 2,500 students attended the other vocational and technical colleges. Clearly, a significant proportion of the country's population (more than one-third) consists of students at the primary, secondary, or tertiary levels. One additional feature worth noting is that, according to official statistics, while the enrollment numbers of males and females keep pace with each other at the primary and secondary levels, approximately 57 percent of students at the tertiary level are females.

Brunei follows a 7-3-2-2 pattern of education. This means that there are seven years of primary education (including one year of preschool), followed by a public examination known as the Primary Certificate of Education. Lower secondary education is for three years, followed by another public examination, the Lower Secondary Assessment examination. Based on the performance of an individual student and following the ninth year of schooling, he or she will be tracked into one of two streams. One stream leads to technical or vocational education that prepares the student for immediate skill-based employment after graduation; such education is provided at a number of technical and vocational institutes described below. The other "academic" stream leads to two or three years of upper secondary education culminating in the student's appearance in the Brunei-Cambridge General Certificate of Education (GCE) examination at either the O-(Ordinary, similar to its British secondary school counterpart) or N-Levels. The GCE examinations are conducted jointly by Cambridge University's Local Examinations Syndicate and Brunei's Ministry of Education. Those not immediately prepared to take the O-Level examinations are allowed to take the N-level examinations which, if passed, give them an additional year of schooling and preparation to tackle the O-Level examinations. Finally, students with adequate achievements at the O-Level examinations can go on to two years of preuniversity education that prepares them for the Brunei-Cambridge A-Level (similar to the British GCE Advanced Level) examinations.

At the apex of Brunei's education system is its only university, the UBD. This relatively new institution of higher learning began operations in 1985 and offers undergraduate and a few graduate programs through its six faculties (colleges). These include faculties in the arts and social sciences; business, economics and policies studies; Islamic studies; Brunei studies; science; and education. The last named faculty originated as a separate institute of education that predates and was incorporated into the UBD in 1988. UBD's teaching staff numbers slightly more than 300 people. While most undergraduate programs of study are offered in the English medium, some are also offered separately in Malay.

Brunei's educational system will face two major future challenges. The first is to expand available educational resources and choices at all levels to match the demand both from its own population and the changing economy of Southeast Asia. The second is the continuing dilemma of integrating historical and traditional (religion, monarchy, and "colonialism") as well as modern (liberalization and globalization) elements into a coherent educational infrastructure.


N. Prabha Unnithan

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Brunei

Brunei (brōōnī´) or Brunei Darussalam (där´əsəläm´), officially State of Brunei Darussalam, sultanate (2005 est. pop. 372,400), 2,226 sq mi (5,765 sq km), NW Borneo, on the South China Sea. Its two sections, separated by Brunei Bay, are surrounded by Sarawak, Malaysia. The capital and major port of Brunei is Bandar Seri Begawan (formerly Brunei; 1991 est. pop. 46,229).

Land and People

The mountains in the nation's east give way to a flat coastal plain; western Brunei consists of hilly lowlands. The tropical climate is typically hot and humid with frequent rain. About two thirds of the population are Malays, but the Chinese community, consisting of about 15% of the people, dominates the economy. Some 6% of the people are of indigenous descent. Malay is the official language, but English and Chinese are also spoken. Islam is the predominant and official religion; there are minorities of Buddhists, Christians, and those holding traditional beliefs.

Economy

Crude oil and liquefied natural gas are Brunei's main exports and the country's economic mainstays; petroleum products are also produced. The government is attempting to promote economic diversification; clothing is manufactured, and there are banking, tourism, and construction industries. Rice, vegetables, and fruits are grown, and chickens, water buffalo, cattle, and goats are raised. Forests are strictly protected, and timber cutting is allowed only for local use. Brunei imports machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and chemicals. The main trading partners are Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Korea.

Government

Brunei is a constitutional sultanate governed under the constitution of 1959, although some provisions have been suspended. The sultan is both head of state and head of government. The unicameral legislature consists of the 29-member Legislative Council, whose members are appointed by the sultan. Administratively, the country is divided into four districts.

History

A native sultanate was established at Brunei in the 15th cent. At one time the sultan controlled nearly all of Borneo, but by the 19th cent. his power had declined and Brunei had become a haven for pirates. In 1888 the British established a protectorate over Brunei, administered by a British resident, although the sultan retained formal authority. The Japanese overran the area during World War II.

In 1959 a written constitution went into effect. Under it, the sultanate remained and the protectorate was governed by a chief minister, council of ministers, and elected legislative body. Following elections won by an antimonarchist left-wing party in 1962 and an abortive uprising by the party's military wing, a state of emergency was proclaimed and the legislature disbanded. Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah became sultan in 1967. In 1970 the legislature was made an appointed body. Following the signing of a treaty with the British in 1979, Brunei became fully independent in 1984, and the legislature was suspended the same year. After independence the sultan became an absolute monarch, and oil revenues were used to create a prosperous welfare state, but oil and natural gas exports are expected to decrease during the 21st cent.

The 1997–98 Asian economic crisis affected Brunei, which lost billions of dollars in investments. In 1998 the sultan's son, Prince al-Muhtadee Billah, was installed as heir to the throne. After a 20-year hiatus, the sultan convened the appointed legislature in 2004 and signed a constitutional amendment calling for a 45-seat council with 15 elected members. However, the sultan dissolved the legislature in 2005 and appointed a new 29-member council. In 2014 the country began a two-year process of adopting Islamic law (sharia) as the basis for its legal system.

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Brunei

Brunei Sultanate in n Borneo, se Asia; the capital is Bandar Seri Begawan.

Land and climate

Bounded in the nw by the South China Sea, Brunei consists of humid plains with forested mountains running along its s border with Malaysia. Brunei has a moist, tropical climate.

History and politics

During the 16th century, Brunei ruled over the whole of Borneo and parts of the Philippines, but gradually lost its influence in the region. It became a British protectorate in 1888. Brunei achieved independence in 1983. The Sultan has executive authority.

Economy

Oil and gas are the main source of income, accounting for 70% of GDP. Recently, attempts have been made to increase agricultural production. Area: 5765sq km (2225sq mi). Pop. (2000 est.) 333,000.

http://www.brunei.gov.bn; http://www.brunet.bn

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Brunei

Brunei rose as a powerful Islamic sultanate in the 15th cent. When Magellan visited it in 1521, it held sway over most of lowland Borneo and the surrounding archipelago. However, after it was destroyed by a Spanish fleet, it passed into obscurity. In 1888, surrounded by the Brookes' Sarawak and the domains of the British North Borneo Company, it was taken under a British protectorate. From 1906 to 1959, it was administered by the British resident. Rich oil reserves were discovered. The sultan was restored to his government and, in 1963, declined to join the Malaysian Federation.

David Anthony Washbrook

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Brunei

Brunei •decani • Iceni • Gemini • Anno Domini • termini • acini •personae, tostone •Brunei • alumni • goldeneye

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Brunei

Brunei

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the November 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Negara Brunei Darussalam

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 5,765 sq. km. (2,226 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware.

Cities: Capital—Bandar Seri Begawan.

Terrain: East—flat coastal plain rises to mountains; west—hilly lowland with a few mountain ridges.

Climate: Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bruneian(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 383,000.

Annual growth rate: 2.8% (IMF est. 2007).

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other indigenous groups.

Religions: Islam.

Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy (2006)—94.7%.

Health: Life expectancy (years)—74.4 (men), 77.4 (women) yrs. Infant mortality rate (2006 est.)—12.25/ 1,000.

Government

Type: Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Independence: January 1, 1984.

Constitution: 1959.

Government branches: Executive—Sultan is both head of state and Prime Minister, presiding over a fourteen-member cabinet. Legislative—a Legislative Council has been reactivated after a 20-year suspension to play an advisory role for the Sultan. Judicial (based on Indian penal code and English common law)—magistrate's courts, High Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London).

Political subdivisions: Four districts—Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong.

Economy

GDP: (2006 est.) U.S. $12.582 billion.

Growth rate: (2006 est.) 3.7%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Trade: Exports—oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, garments. Major markets—Japan, Korea, ASEAN, U.S. Imports—machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers—ASEAN, Japan, U.S., EU.

PEOPLE

Many cultural and linguistic differences make Brunei Malays distinct from the larger Malay populations in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, even though they are ethnically related and share the Muslim religion.

Brunei has hereditary nobility, carrying the title Pengiran. The Sultan can award to commoners the title Pehin, the equivalent of a life peerage awarded in the United Kingdom. The Sultan also can award his subjects the Dato, the equivalent of a knighthood in the United Kingdom, and Datin, the equivalent of damehood. Bruneians adhere to the practice of using complete full names with all titles, including the title Haji (for men) or Hajah (for women) for those who have made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Brunei Malay women wear the tudong, a traditional head covering. Men wear the songkok, a traditional Malay cap. Men who have completed the Haj can wear a white songkok.

The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing tests in Malay culture, customs, and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas. The majority of Brunei's Chinese are permanent residents, and many are stateless. An amendment to the National Registration and Immigration Act of 2002 allowed female Bruneian citizens for the first time to transfer their nationality to their children.

Oil wealth allows the Brunei Government to provide the population with one of Asia's finest health care systems. Malaria has been eradicated, and cholera is virtually nonexistent. There are five general hospitals—in Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, Kuala Belait, Bangar, and Seria—and there are numerous health clinics throughout the country.

Education starts with preschool, followed by 6 years of primary education and up to 7 years of secondary education. Nine years of education are mandatory. Most of Brunei's college students attend universities and other institutions abroad, but approximately 3,674 (2005) study at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Opened in 1985, the university has a faculty of more than 300 instructors and is located on a sprawling campus overlooking the South China Sea.

The official language is Malay, but English is widely understood and used in business. Other languages spoken are several Chinese dialects, Iban, and a number of native dialects. Islam is the official religion, but religious freedom is guaranteed under the constitution.

HISTORY

Historians believe there was a forerunner to the present Brunei Sultanate, which the Chinese called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabic records indicate that this ancient trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. This early kingdom was apparently conquered by the Sumatran Hindu Empire of Srivijaya in the early ninth century, which later controlled northern Borneo and the Philippines. It was subjugated briefly by the Java-based Majapahit Empire but soon regained its independence and once again rose to prominence.

The Brunei Empire had its golden age from the 15th to the 17th centuries, when its control extended over the entire island of Borneo and north into the Philippines. Brunei was particularly powerful under the fifth sultan, Bolkiah (1473-1521), who was famed for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila; and under the ninth sultan, Hassan (1605-19), who fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.

After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later “Rajah” of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control.

Meanwhile, the British North Borneo Company was expanding its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1888, Brunei became a protectorate of the British Government, retaining internal independence but with British control over external affairs. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control when executive power was transferred to a British resident, who advised the ruler on all matters except those concerning local custom and religion.

In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. An attempt in 1962 to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighboring Sabah and Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain an independent state. In 1967, Sultan Omar abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defense Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.

On January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The Sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. A Council of Ministers, or cabinet, which currently consists of 14 members (including the Sultan himself), assists in the administration of the government. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. His son, the Crown Prince, serves as Senior Minister. One of the Sultan's brothers, Prince Mohamed, serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the Sultan. The local magistrates’ courts try most cases. More serious cases go before the High Court, which sits for about 2 weeks every few months. Brunei has an arrangement with the United Kingdom whereby United Kingdom judges are appointed as the judges for Brunei's High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London in civil but not criminal cases. Brunei also has a separate system of Islamic courts that apply Sharia law in family and other matters involving Muslims.

The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the current form of government by providing economic benefits such as subsidized food, fuel, and housing; free education and medical care; and low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 interview that he intended to proceed, with prudence, to establish more liberal institutions in the country and that he would reintroduce elections and a legislature when he “[could] see evidence of a genuine interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of Bruneians.” In 2004 the Sultan issued amendments to the constitution and re-introduced an appointed Legislative Council with minimal powers. Currently, five of the 31 seats on the Council are indirectly elected by village leaders. Brunei's economy is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The government uses its earnings in part to build up its foreign reserves.

The Brunei Investment Agency manages the bulk of the nation's foreign investments, which are reported to have reached more than $30 billion. The country’ wealth, coupled with its membership in the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference give it an influence in the world disproportionate to its size.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Sultan: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Prime Minister: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Communications: Awang ABU BAKAR bin Apong

Min. of Culture, Youth, & Sports: MOHAMMAD bin Daud, Gen. (Ret.)

Min. of Defense: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Development: ABDULLAH bin Begawan

Min. of Education: Abdul RAHMAN bin Mohamed Taib

Min. of Energy: YAHYA bin Begawan

Min. of Finance: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Finance II: ABDUL RAHMAN bin Ibrahim

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade: MOHAMED Bolkiah, Prince

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade II: LIM Jock Seng

Min. of Health: SUYOI bin Osman

Min. of Home Affairs: ADANAN bin Begawan

Min. of Industry & Primary Resources: AHMAD bin Jumat, Dr.

Min. of Religious Affairs: MOHD ZAIN bin Serudin, Dr.

Senior Min.. in the Prime Minister's Office: Al Muhtadee BILLAH, Crown Prince

Ambassador to the US: PUTEH ibni Mohammad Alam

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: EMRAN bin Bahar

Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 3520 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-237-1838.

ECONOMY

Brunei's economy has enjoyed moderate growth in the mid-2000s, primarily due to high world oil and gas prices. At 3.7% GDP growth in 2006, Brunei had the lowest rate of any ASEAN member nation. Weak oil prices, the East Asian financial crisis, and the collapse of the Amedeo Development Corporation all contributed to very low growth rates in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Brunei is the fourth-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 219,000 barrels a day in 2006. It also is the ninth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. Like many oil producing countries, Brunei's economy has followed the swings of the world oil market. Economic growth has averaged around 2.8% in the 2000s, heavily dependent on oil and gas production. Oil production has averaged around 200,000 barrels a day during the 2000s, while liquefied natural gas output has been slightly under or over 1,000 trillion btu/day over the same period. Brunei is estimated to have oil reserves expected to last 25 years, and enough natural gas reserves to last 40 years.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), a joint venture owned in equal shares by the Brunei Government and the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is the chief oil and gas production company in Brunei. It also operates the country's only refinery. BSP and four sister companies—including the liquefied natural gas producing firm BLNG—constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government. BSP's small refinery has a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. This satisfies domestic demand for most petroleum products.

The French oil company Total (then known as ELF Aquitaine) became active in petroleum exploration in Brunei in the 1980s. The joint venture Total E&P Borneo BV currently produces approximately 35,000 barrels per day and 13% of Brunei's natural gas.

In 2003, Malaysia disputed Brunei-awarded oil exploration concessions for offshore blocks J and K (Total and Shell respectively), which led to the Brunei licensees ceasing exploration activities. Negotiations between the two countries are continuing in order to resolve the conflict. Two on-shore blocks are being explored following awards to two consoria—one Canadian-led and the other an Australian-led operating consortium. Australia, Indonesia, and Korea were the largest customers for Brunei's oil exports, taking over 67% of Brunei's total crude exports. Traditional customers Japan, the U.S., and China each took around 5% of total crude exports. Almost all of Brunei's natural gas is liquefied at Brunei Shell's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, which opened in 1972 and is one of the largest LNG plants in the world. Some 90% of Brunei's LNG produced is sold to Japan under a long-term agreement renewed in 1993. The agreement calls for Brunei to provide over 5 million tons of LNG per year to three Japanese utilities, namely to TEPCo, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (J.TER or 5001), Tokyo Gas Co. (J.TYG or 9531) and Osaka Gas Co. (J.OSG or 9532). The Japanese company, Mitsubishi, is a joint venture partner with Shell and the Brunei Government in Brunei LNG, Brunei Coldgas, and Brunei Shell Tankers, which together produce the LNG and supply it to Japan. Since 1995, Brunei has supplied more than 700,000 tons of LNG to the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) as well. In 2006, total natural gas production reached 1.2 billion cubic feet per day. A small amount of natural gas is used for domestic power generation. Since 2001, Japan remains the dominant export market for natural gas. Brunei is the fourth-largest exporter of LNG in the Asia-Pacific region behind Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

The government sought in the past decade to diversify the economy with limited success. Oil and gas and government spending still account for most of Brunei's economic activity. Brunei's non-petroleum industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, aquaculture, and banking. The garment-for-export industry has been shrinking since the U.S. eliminated its garment quota system at the end of 2004. The Brunei Economic Development Board announced plans in 2003 to use proven gas reserves to establish downstream industrial projects. In 2006, the Brunei Methanol Company, a joint venture between Petroleum Brunei, Mitsubishi, and Itochu, was established. Initial construction on a $400 million methanol plant, fed by natural gas, was started in 2007 and the plant is expected to come on line in 2010. The government plans to build a power plant in the Sungai Liang region to power a proposed aluminum smelting plant that will depend on foreign investors. A second major project depending on foreign investment is in the planning stage: a giant container hub at the Muara Port facilities.

The government regulates the immigration of foreign labor out of concern it might disrupt Brunei's society. Work permits for foreigners are issued only for short periods and must be continually renewed. Despite these restrictions, the estimated 100,000 foreign temporary residents of Brunei make up a significant portion of the work force. The government reported a total work force of 180,400 in 2006, with a derived unemployment rate of 4.0%.

Oil and natural gas account for almost all exports. Since only a few products other than petroleum are produced locally, a wide variety of items must be imported. Nonetheless, Brunei has had a significant trade surplus in the 2000s. Official statistics show Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, the U.S., and China as the leading importers in 2006. The United States was the fourth-largest supplier of imports to Brunei in 2006.

Brunei's substantial foreign reserves are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance. BIA's guiding principle is to increase the real value of Brunei's foreign reserves while pursuing a diverse investment strategy, with holdings in the United States, Japan, Western Europe, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Brunei Government encourages more foreign investment. New enterprises that meet certain criteria can receive pioneer status, exempting profits from income tax for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of capital invested. The normal corporate income tax rate is 30%. There is no personal income tax or capital gains tax.

One of the government's priorities is to encourage the development of Brunei Malays as leaders of industry and commerce. There are no specific restrictions of foreign equity ownership, but local participation, both shared capital and management, is encouraged. Such participation helps when tendering for contracts with the government or Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Companies in Brunei must either be incorporated locally or registered as a branch of a foreign company and must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Public companies must have a minimum of seven shareholders. Private companies must have a minimum of two but not more than 50 shareholders. At least half of the directors in a company must be residents of Brunei.

The government owns a cattle farm in Australia through which the country's beef supplies are processed. At 2,262 square miles, this ranch is larger than Brunei itself. Eggs and chickens are largely produced locally, but most of Brunei's other food needs must be imported. Agriculture, aquaculture, and fisheries are among the industrial sectors that the government has selected for highest priority in its efforts to diversify the economy.

Since 2002, the government has worked to develop Brunei as an inter-national offshore financial center as well as a center for Islamic banking. Brunei is keen on the development of small and medium enterprises and also is investigating the possibility of establishing a “cyber park” to develop an information technology industry. Brunei has also promoted ecotourism to take advantage of the over 70% of Brunei's territory that remains primal tropical rainforest.

DEFENSE

The Sultan is both Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (RBAF). All infantry, navy, and air combat units are made up of volunteers. There are two infantry battalions equipped with armored reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers and supported by Rapier air defense missiles and a flotilla of coastal patrol vessels armed with surface-to-surface missiles. Brunei has ordered, but not yet taken possession of, three offshore patrol vessels from the U.K. Brunei has a defense agreement with the United Kingdom, under which a British Armed Forces Ghurka battalion (1,500 men) is permanently stationed in Seria, near the center of Brunei's oil industry. The RBAF has joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the United Kingdom and many other countries, including the United States. The U.S. and Brunei signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation in November 1994. The two countries conduct an annual military exercise called CARAT

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Brunei joined ASEAN on January 7, 1984—one week after resuming full independence—and gives its ASEAN membership the highest priority in its foreign relations. Brunei joined the UN in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Brunei hosted the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2000 and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2002.

U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the 1800s. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei. The two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867.

The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darus-salam’ full independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in March 1984. Brunei's armed forces engage in joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. A memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994. The Sultan visited Washington in December 2002.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (E) 3rdFlr Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan, APO/FPO Unit 4280 Box 40; FPO AP 96507-0040, (673) 222-9670, Fax (673) 222-5293, Workweek: 7:45am-4:30pm, Website: http://bandar.usembassy.gov.

AMB OMS:Allyson Cornish
DHS/CIS:(Singapore)
FM:(Singapore)
MGT:Terry Murphree
POL ECO:Justin Friedman
AMB:Emil M Skodon
CON:Justin Friedman
DCM:Justin Friedman
GSO:Terry Murphree
RSO:Nicholas C Porter
DAO:(Singapore)
EEO:(Singapore)
FMO:(Singapore)
IMO:Misty Knotts
IPO:Misty Knotts
IRS:(Singapore)
ISO:Misty Knotts
ISSO:Misty Knotts

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 10, 2006

Country Description: Brunei Darussalam is a small Islamic Sultanate on the northwest coast of the Island of Borneo. It is divided into four districts, namely Brunei/Muara, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is its only major city. Brunei's official language is Malay but English is widely understood and used in business. Tourist facilities and services are generally available throughout the country. For more information concerning Brunei, please see the Government of Brunei website at http://www.brunei.gov.bn.

Entry Requirements: U.S. passport-holders must have at least six months validity remaining on their passport before entering or visiting Brunei for business or pleasure may obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. There is an airport departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 237-1838, or visit the Embassy of Brunei website at http://www.brunei-embassy.org for the most current visa information.

Effective June 12, 2004, Immigration offenders will be punishable by caning. Workers who overstay their visas can face jail sentences and three strokes of the cane. Those associated with violators, such as contractors or employers, are subject to the same penalties if found guilty.

Safety and Security: Following the October 2002, August 2003, September 2004 and October 2005 terrorist bombings in Indonesia, the Department of State continues to be concerned that terrorist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), that have transnational capability to carry out terrorist attacks, may do so in various Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei. JI is known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia and to have connections with Al-Qaeda, other regional terrorist groups and previous regional terrorist attacks. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include, but are not limited to, facilities where Americans and other Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, including, but not limited to, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events. Americans in Brunei should continue to be vigilant with regard to their personal security, maintain a low profile, vary times and routes during their daily routines, and report any suspicious activity to the local police or to the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department'ss Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Though there is some crime, violent crime is rare. Burglary and theft is on the rise. Americans are reminded to be prudent in their own personal security practices.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: There is adequate care for basic medical conditions in Brunei; however, due to unpredictable shortages of materials and uncertain support staff, elective surgeries or complicated care is best obtained in Singapore or elsewhere. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning road and driving conditions in foreign countries is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Brunei has an extensive network of roads of generally good though varying quality throughout the country that includes highways, link roads, flyovers and roundabouts. Holders of foreign driving license are permitted to drive in Brunei Darussalam for 90 days only. For longer stays a foreign driving license must be endorsed to a Brunei driving license at any Land Transport Department office. Drivers must obey traffic rules at all the times and should take extra caution when approaching traffic signals. In urban areas, some local drivers have run through red lights resulting in several deadly accidents in recent years.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Brunei's Department of Civil Aviation as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brunei's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Immigration Violations: Americans in Brunei are subject to the laws of the country and may be arrested for violation of the new immigration regulations, or any other law. In such cases, the Embassy will provide consular services to American citizens arrested in Brunei, in accordance with international law and U.S. regulations. However, the Embassy may not intervene in local judicial matters. Americans should be aware that the new immigration law is more stringent and less flexible than the previous one, with harsher penalties.

The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens on contract in Brunei be fully aware of their immigration status and of crucial dates regarding contract extensions and renewals, and have their employment documents in order. It would be wise to apply the same approach to any personal and domestic staff they may have hired, to ensure that they, too, do not run afoul of Brunei immigration regulations.

Dual Nationality: Brunei does not recognize or permit dual nationality. Brunei nationals are expected to enter and exit on their Brunei passports. Should Brunei authorities learn that a person is a dual national, they may require renunciation of United States or Brunei citizenship immediately.

Customs Regulations: Brunei customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency restrictions, ivory and alcohol. For non-Muslims, limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brunei's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or traf-ficking in illegal drugs in Brunei are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin, ecstasy and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, cocaine of more than 30 grams, cannabis of more than 500 grams, syabu or methamphetamine of more than 50 grams, or opium of more than 1.2 kg carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts can result in a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Brunei are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's Travel Registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Brunei. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, at the corner of Jalan Sultan and Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8811, Brunei Darussalam. Mail sent from the United States can be addressed to the Embassy's FPO address: American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673)(2) 229-670, fax number (673)(2) 225-293 and e-mail address [email protected] The Consular section's e-mail address is: [email protected] The Embassy's after-hours number for emergency calls is (673)(8) 730-691.

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Brunei

BRUNEI

Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Negara Brunei Darussalam


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

5,765 sq. km. (2,226 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware.

Cities:

Capital—Bandar Seri Begawan.

Terrain:

East—flat coastal plains with beaches; west—hilly with a few mountain ridges.

Climate:

Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Bruneian(s).

Population (2003 est.):

348,800.

Annual growth rate:

2.3%.

Ethnic groups:

Malay, Chinese, other, indigenous groups.

Religion:

Islam.

Language:

Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.

Education:

Years compulsory—9. Literacy (2001)—94.7%.

Health:

Life expectancy—74 yrs. Infant mortality rate (2002)—8.3/1,000.

Government

Type:

Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Independence:

January 1, 1984.

Constitution:

1959.

Branches:

Executive—Sultan is both head of state and Prime Minister, presiding over a nine-member cabinet. Legislative—a Legislative Council has been reactivated after a 20-year suspension to play an advisory role for the Sultan. Judicial (based on Indian penal code and English common law)—magistrate's courts, High Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London).

Subdivisions:

Four districts—Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong.

Economy

GDP (2003):

$4.71 billion.

Growth rate (2003 est.):

3.2%.

Natural resources:

Oil and natural gas.

Trade:

Exports—oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, garments. Major markets—Japan, Korea, ASEAN, U.S. Imports—machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers—ASEAN, Japan, U.S., EU.


PEOPLE

Many cultural and linguistic differences make Brunei Malays distinct from the larger Malay populations in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, even though they are ethnically related and share the Muslim religion.

Brunei has hereditary nobility, carrying the title Pengiran. The Sultan can award to commoners the title Pehin, the equivalent of a life peerage awarded in the United Kingdom. The Sultan also can award his subjects the Dato, the equivalent of a knighthood in the United Kingdom, and Datin, the equivalent of damehood.

Bruneians adhere to the practice of using complete full names with all titles, including the title Haji (for men) or Hajjah (for women) for those who have made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Brunei Malay women wear the tudong, a traditional head covering. Men wear the songkok, a traditional Malay cap. Men who have completed the Haj wear a white songkok.

The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing tests in Malay culture, customs, and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas. The majority of Brunei's Chinese are permanent residents, and many are stateless. An amendment to the National Registration and Immigration Act of 2002 allowed female Bruneian citizens for the first time to transfer their nationality to their children.

Oil wealth allows the Brunei Government to provide the population with one of Asia's finest health care systems. Malaria has been eradicated, and cholera is virtually nonexistent. There are three general hospitals—in Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, and Kuala Belait—and there are numerous health clinics throughout the country.

Education starts with preschool, followed by 6 years of primary education and up to 6 years of secondary education. Nine years of education are mandatory. Most of Brunei's college students attend universities and other institutions abroad, but approximately 3,422 (2003) study at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Opened in 1985, the university has a faculty of more than 300 instructors and is located on a sprawling campus overlooking the South China Sea.

The official language is Malay, but English is widely understood and used in business. Other languages spoken are several Chinese dialects, Iban, and a number of native dialects. Islam is the official religion, but religious freedom is guaranteed under the constitution.


HISTORY

Historians believe there was a forerunner to the present Brunei Sultanate, which the Chinese called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabic records indicate that this ancient trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. This early kingdom was apparently conquered by the Sumatran Hindu Empire of Srivijaya in the early ninth century, which later controlled northern Borneo and the Philippines. It was subjugated briefly by the Java-based Majapahit Empire but soon regained its independence and once again rose to prominence.

The Brunei Empire had its golden age from the 15th to the 17th centuries, when its control extended over the entire island of Borneo and north into the Philippines. Brunei was particularly powerful under the fifth sultan, Bolkiah (1473-1521), who was famed for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila; and under the ninth sultan, Hassan (1605-19), who fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.

After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later "Rajah" of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control.

Meanwhile, the British North Borneo Company was expanding its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1888, Brunei became a protectorate of the British Government, retaining internal independence but with British control over external affairs. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control when executive power was transferred to a British resident, who advised the ruler on all matters except those concerning local custom and religion.

In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. An attempt in 1962 to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighboring Sabah and Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain an independent state.

In 1967, Sultan Omar abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defense Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.

On January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The Sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. A Council of Ministers, or cabinet, which currently consists of nine members (including the Sultan himself), assists in the administration of the government. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. One of the Sultan's brothers, Prince Mohamed, serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the sultan. The local magistrates' courts try most cases. More serious cases go before the High Court, which sits for about 2 weeks every few months. Brunei has an arrangement with the United Kingdom whereby United Kingdom judges are appointed as the judges for Brunei's High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy

Council in London in civil but not criminal cases. Brunei also has a separate system of Islamic courts that apply Shariah law in family and other matters involving Muslims. Brunei is considering merging the common law and Islamic legal systems.

The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the current form of government by providing economic benefits such as subsidized food, fuel, and housing; free education and medical care; and low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 interview that he intended to proceed, with prudence, to establish more liberal institutions in the country and that he would reintroduce elections and a legislature when he "[could] see evidence of a genuine interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of Bruneians." In 1994, a constitutional review committee submitted its findings to the Sultan, but these have not been made public. In 2004 the Sultan re-introduced a fully appointed Legislative Council with minimal powers.

Brunei's economy is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The government uses its earnings in part to build up its foreign reserves, which at one time reportedly reached more than $30 billion. The country's wealth, coupled with its membership in the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference give it an influence in the world disproportionate to its size.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 10/26/2005

Sultan: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir
Prime Minister: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir
Min. of Communications: Awang ABU BAKAR bin Apong
Min. of Culture, Youth, & Sports: MOHAMMAD bin Daud, Gen. (Ret.)
Min. of Defense: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir
Min. of Development: ABDULLAH bin Begawan
Min. of Education: Abdul RAHMAN bin Mohamed Taib
Min. of Energy: YAHYA bin Begawan
Min. of Finance: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir
Min. of Finance II: ABDUL RAHMAN bin Ibrahim
Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade: MOHAMED Bolkiah, Prince
Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade II: LIM Jock Seng
Min. of Health: SUYOI bin Osman
Min. of Home Affairs: ADANAN bin Begawan
Min. of Industry & Primary Resources: AHMAD bin Jumat, Dr.
Min. of Religious Affairs: MOHD ZAIN bin Serudin, Dr.
Senior Min. in the Prime Minister's Office: Al Muhtadee BILLAH, Crown Prince
Ambassador to the US: PUTEH ibni Mohammad Alam
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: SHOFRY bin Abdul Ghafor


ECONOMY

The Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, coupled with fluctuations in the price of oil have created uncertainty and instability in Brunei's economy. In addition, the 1998 collapse of the Amedeo Development Corporation, Brunei's largest construction firm whose projects helped fuel the domestic economy, caused the country to slip into a mild recession.

Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 203,000 barrels a day. It also is the fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world. Brunei's gross domestic product (GDP) soared with the petroleum price increases of the 1970s to a peak of $5.7 billion in 1980. It declined slightly in each of the next 5 years, then fell by almost 30% in 1986.

This drop was caused by a combination of sharply lower petroleum prices in world markets and voluntary production cuts in Brunei. The GDP recovered somewhat since 1986, growing by 12% in 1987, 1% in 1988, and 9% in 1989. In recent years, GDP growth was 3.6% in 1997, -4.0% in 1998, 2.6% in 1999, 2.8% in 2000, 3.0% in 2001, 2.8% in 2002 and an estimated 3.2% in 2003. However, the 2003 GDP was about $4.68 billion, still below the 1980 peak.

In the 1970s, Brunei invested sharply increasing revenues from petroleum exports and maintained government spending at a low and constant rate. Consequently, the government was able to build its foreign reserves and invest them around the world to help provide for future generations. Part of the reserve earnings was reportedly also used to help finance the government's annual budget deficit. Since 1986, however, petroleum revenues have decreased, and government spending has increased. Until 2000, the government ran a budget deficit since 1988.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), a joint venture owned in equal shares by the Brunei Government and the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is the chief oil and gas production company in Brunei. It also operates the country's only refinery. BSP and four sister companies constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government. BSP's small refinery has a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. This satisfies domestic demand for most petroleum products.

The French oil company ELF Aquitaine became active in petroleum exploration in Brunei in the 1980s. Known as Elf Petroleum Asia BV in 1992, it has discovered commercially exploitable quantities of oil and gas in three of the four wells drilled since 1987, including a particularly promising discovery announced in early 1990. The company has renamed Total Fina Elf in 2001 and changed names again in 2003 to Total E&P Borneo BV. Brunei is preparing to tender concessions for deepwater oil and gas exploration. In 2003, Malaysia disputed Bruneiawarded oil exploration concessions, which led to both countries ceasing exploration activities. Negotiations between the two countries are continuing in order to resolve the conflict.

Brunei's oil production peaked in 1979 at more than 240,000 barrels per day. Since then it has been deliberately cut back to extend the life of oil reserves and improve recovery rates. Petroleum production is currently averaging 203,000 barrels per day. Japan has traditionally been the main customer for Brunei's oil exports, and in 1999 took in about 50.3% of Brunei's export production, followed by the United States (13.9%), Korea (13.5%) and Thailand (13.3%). Other major customers include Taiwan and the countries of ASEAN.

Almost all of Brunei's natural gas is liquefied at Brunei Shell's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, which opened in 1972 and is one of the largest LNG plants in the world. Some 90% of Brunei's LNG produced is sold to Japan under a long-term agreement renewed in 1993. The agreement calls for Brunei to provide over 5 million tons of LNG per year to three Japanese utilities, namely to TEPCo, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (J.TER or 5001), Tokyo Gas Co. (J.TYG or 9531) and Osaka Gas Co. (J.OSG or 9532). The Japanese company, Mitsubishi, is a joint venture partner with Shell and the Brunei Government in Brunei LNG, Brunei Coldgas, and Brunei Shell Tankers, which together produce the LNG and supply it to Japan. Since 1995, Brunei has supplied more than 700,000 tons of LNG to the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) as well. In 1999, Brunei's natural gas production reached 90 cargoes per day. A small amount of natural gas is used for domestic power generation. Since 2001, Japan remains the dominant export market for natural gas. Brunei is the fourth-largest exporter of LNG in the Asia-Pacific region behind Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

Brunei's proven oil and gas reserves are sufficient until at least 2015, and planned deep-sea exploration is expected to find significant new reserves. The government sought in the past decade to diversify the economy with limited success. Oil and gas and government spending still account for most of Brunei's economic activity. Brunei's non-petroleum industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and banking. The Brunei Economic Development Board announced plans in 2003 to use proven gas reserves to establish downstream industrial projects. A 500-megawatt (MW) power plant is to be built in the Sungai Liang region to power an aluminum smelting plant. A second major project in the planning stage is a giant container hub at the Muara Port facilities. Both projects depend on foreign direct investors.

The government regulates the immigration of foreign labor out of concern it might disrupt Brunei's society. Work permits for foreigners are issued only for short periods and must be continually renewed. Despite these restrictions, foreigners make up a significant portion of the work force. The government reported a total work force of 158,000 in 2001, with an official unemployment rate of 7.2%. In 2003, the total work force was reportedly 160,000 with an official unemployment rate of 4.3%.

Oil and natural gas account for almost all exports. Since only a few products other than petroleum are produced locally, a wide variety of items must be imported. Brunei statistics show Singapore as the largest point of origin of imports, accounting for 28.5% in 1999. However, this figure includes some transshipment, since most of Brunei's imports transit Singapore. Japan and Malaysia were the second-largest suppliers. As in many other countries, Japanese products dominate local markets for motor vehicles, construction equipment, electronic goods, and household appliances. The United States was the third-largest supplier of imports to Brunei in 1998.

Brunei's substantial foreign reserves are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance. BIA's guiding principle is to increase the real value of Brunei's foreign reserves while pursuing a diverse investment strategy, with holdings in the United States, Japan, Western Europe, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Brunei Government encourages more foreign investment. New enterprises that meet certain criteria can receive pioneer status, exempting profits from income tax for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of capital invested. The normal corporate income tax rate is 30%. There is no personal income tax or capital gains tax.

One of the government's priorities is to encourage the development of Brunei Malays as leaders of industry and commerce. There are no specific restrictions of foreign equity ownership, but local participation, both shared capital and management, is encouraged. Such participation helps when tendering for contracts with the government or Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Companies in Brunei must either be incorporated locally or registered as a branch of a foreign company and must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Public companies must have a minimum of seven shareholders. Private companies must have a minimum of two but not more than 50 shareholders. At least half of the directors in a company must be residents of Brunei.

The government owns a cattle farm in Australia through which the country's beef supplies are processed. At 2,262 square miles, this ranch is larger than Brunei itself. Eggs and chickens are largely produced locally, but most of Brunei's other food needs must be imported. Agriculture and fisheries are among the industrial sectors that the government has selected for highest priority in its efforts to diversify the economy.

Recently the government has announced plans for Brunei to become an international offshore financial center as well as a center for Islamic banking. Brunei is keen on the development of small and medium enterprises and also is investigating the possibility of establishing a "cyber park" to develop an information technology industry. Brunei has also promoted tourism.


DEFENSE

The Sultan is both Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (RBAF). All infantry, navy, and air combat units are made up of volunteers. There are two infantry battalions equipped with armored reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers and supported by Rapier air defense missiles and a flotilla of coastal patrol vessels armed with surface-to-surface missiles. Brunei has ordered, but not yet taken possession of, three offshore patrol vessels from the U.K.

Brunei has a defense agreement with the United Kingdom, under which a British Armed Forces Ghurka battalion (1,500 men) is permanently stationed in Seria, near the center of Brunei's oil industry. The RBAF has joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the United Kingdom and many other countries, including the United States. The U.S. and Brunei signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation in November 1994. The two countries conduct an annual military exercise called CARAT.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Brunei joined ASEAN on January 7, 1984—one week after resuming full independence—and gives its ASEAN membership the highest priority in its foreign relations. Brunei joined the UN in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Brunei hosted the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November 2000.


U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the 1800s. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei. The two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867.

The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darussalam's full independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in March 1984. Brunei's armed forces engage in joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. A memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994. The Sultan visited Washington in December 2002.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (E) Address: 3rd Flr Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan; APO/FPO: PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507; Phone: (673) (2) 229-670 X 119/150; Fax: (673)(2) 225-293; Work-week: 7:45am-4:30pm; Website: usembassy.state.gov/brunei

AMB:Emil M Skodon
AMB OMS:Supin Horton
DCM:Jeff J Hawkins
CON:Jeff J Hawkins
MGT:Christa Dupuis
DAO:Col. John Bordwell (Singapore)
EEO:(Singapore)
FMO:Robert Wert (Singapore)
GSO:Christa A Dupuis
IMO:Marvin A Biteng
INS:(Singapore)
IPO:Marvin A Biteng
IRS:(Singapore)
ISSO:Marvin Biteng
RSO:David L Bowers
Last Updated: 10/7/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 21, 2005

Country Description:

Brunei is a small Islamic Sultanate on the northwest coast of the Island of Borneo. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is the only major city. Tourist facilities are good and generally available. For more information concerning Brunei, please see the Government of Brunei web site at http://www.brunei.gov.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

U.S. passport-holders visiting Brunei for business or pleasure may obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. There is an airport departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; tel. (202) 342-0159 http://www.bruneiembassy.org/.

Effective June 12, 2004, Immigration offenders will be punishable by caning. Workers who overstay their visas can face jail sentences and three strokes of the cane. Those associated with violators, such as contractors or employers, are subject to the same penalties if found guilty. Visit the Embassy of Brunei web site at http://www.bruneiembassy.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

Following the October 2002 and August 2003 terrorist bombings in Indonesia, the Department of State continues to be concerned that terrorist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), that have transnational capability to carry out terrorist attacks, may do so in various Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei. JI is known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia and to have connections with Al-Qaeda, other regional terrorist groups and previous regional terrorist attacks. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include, but are not limited to, facilities where Americans and other Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, including, but not limited to, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events. Americans in Brunei should continue to be vigilant with regard to their personal security, maintain a low profile, vary times and routes during their daily routines, and report any suspicious activity to the local police or to the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-todate information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.

Crime:

Though there is some crime, violent crime is rare. Burglaries and theft are on the rise. Americans are reminded to be prudent in their own personal security practices.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

There is adequate care for basic medical conditions in Brunei; however, due to unpredictable shortages of materials and uncertain support staff, elective surgeries or complicated care is best obtained in Singapore or elsewhere.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning road and driving conditions in foreign countries is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Brunei as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Brunei's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

Americans in Brunei are subject to the laws of the country and may be arrested for violation of the new immigration regulations, or any other law. In such cases, the Embassy will provide consular services to American citizens arrested in Brunei, in accordance with international law and U.S. regulations. However, the Embassy may not intervene in local judicial matters. Americans should be aware that the new immigration law is more stringent and less flexible than the previous one, with harsher penalties.

The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens on contract in Brunei be fully aware of their immigration status and of crucial dates regarding contract extensions and renewals, and have their employment documents in order. It would be wise to apply the same approach to any personal and domestic staff they may have hired, to ensure that they, too, do not run afoul of Brunei immigration regulations.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Brunei customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency restrictions, ivory and alcohol. For non-Muslims, limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brunei's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brunei are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin, ecstasy and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, Cocaine of more than 30 grams, Cannabis of more than 500 grams, Syabu or meth-amphetamine of more than 50 grams, or Opium of more than 1.2 kg. carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts can result in a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Brunei are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Brunei. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8811, Brunei Darussalam. Mail sent from the United States can be addressed to the Embassy's FPO address: American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673)(2) 229-670, fax number (673)(2) 225-293 and e-mail address [email protected] The Consular section's fax number is (673)(2) 23-5254 and their e-mail address is: [email protected] The Embassy's after-hours number for emergency calls is (673)(8) 730-691.

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Brunei

Brunei

Compiled from the October 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Negara Brunei Darussalam

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 5,765 sq. km. (2,226 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware.

Cities: Capital—Bandar Seri Begawan.

Terrain: East—flat coastal plain rises to mountains; west—hilly lowland with a few mountain ridges.

Climate: Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bruneian(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 379,444.

Annual growth rate: 1.9%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other indigenous groups.

Religion: Islam.

Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy (2006)—94.7%.

Health: Life expectancy (years)—74.4 (men), 77.4 (women) yrs. Infant mortality rate (2006 est)—12.25/1,000.

Government

Type: Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Independence: January 1, 1984.

Constitution: 1959.

Government branches: Executive—Sultan is both head of state and Prime Minister, presiding over a fourteen-member cabinet. Legislative—a Legislative Council has been reactivated after a 20-year suspension to play an advisory role for the Sultan. Judicial (based on Indian penal code and English common law)—magistrate’s courts, High Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London).

Political subdivisions: Four districts—Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong.

Economy

GDP: (2004) US$5.247 billion; ($6.842 billion in (purchasing power parity terms, 2003).

Growth rate (2004 est.) 1.7%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Trade: Exports—oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, garments. Major markets—Japan, Korea, ASEAN, U.S. Imports—machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers—ASEAN, Japan, U.S., EU.

PEOPLE

Many cultural and linguistic differences make Brunei Malays distinct from the larger Malay populations in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, even though they are ethnically related and share the Muslim religion.

Brunei has hereditary nobility, carrying the title Pengiran. The Sultan can award to commoners the title Pehin, the equivalent of a life peerage awarded in the United Kingdom. The Sultan also can award his subjects the Dato, the equivalent of a knighthood in the United Kingdom, and Datin, the equivalent of damehood.

Bruneians adhere to the practice of using complete full names with all titles, including the title Haji (for men) or Hajah (for women) for those who have made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Brunei Malay women wear the tudong, a traditional head covering. Men wear the songkok, a traditional Malay cap. Men who have completed the Haj can wear a white songkok.

The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing tests in Malay culture, customs, and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas.

The majority of Brunei’s Chinese are permanent residents, and many are stateless. An amendment to the National Registration and Immigration Act of 2002 allowed female Bruneian citizens for the first time to transfer their nationality to their children.

Oil wealth allows the Brunei Government to provide the population with one of Asia’s finest health care systems. Malaria has been eradicated, and cholera is virtually nonexistent. There are five general hospitals—in Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, Kuala Belait, Bangar, and Seria—and there are numerous health clinics throughout the country.

Education starts with preschool, followed by 6 years of primary education and up to 7 years of secondary education. Nine years of education are mandatory. Most of Brunei’s college students attend universities and other institutions abroad, but approximately 3,674 (2005) study at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Opened in 1985, the university has a faculty of more than 300 instructors and is located on a sprawling campus overlooking the South China Sea.

The official language is Malay, but English is widely understood and used in business. Other languages spoken are several Chinese dialects, Iban, and a number of native dialects. Islam is the official religion, but religious freedom is guaranteed under the constitution.

HISTORY

Historians believe there was a forerunner to the present Brunei Sultanate, which the Chinese called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabic records indicate that this ancient trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. This early kingdom was apparently conquered by the Sumatran Hindu Empire of Srivijaya in the early ninth century, which later controlled northern Borneo and the Philippines. It was subjugated briefly by the Java-based Majapahit Empire but soon regained its independence and once again rose to prominence.

The Brunei Empire had its golden age from the 15th to the 17th centuries, when its control extended over the entire island of Borneo and north into the Philippines. Brunei was particularly powerful under the fifth sultan, Bolkiah (1473-1521), who was famed for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila; and under the ninth sultan, Hassan (1605-19), who fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.

After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later “Rajah” of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control.

Meanwhile, the British North Borneo Company was expanding its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1888, Brunei became a protectorate of the British Government, retaining internal independence but with British control over external affairs. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control when executive power was transferred to a British resident, who advised the ruler on all matters except those concerning local custom and religion.

In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. An attempt in 1962 to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighboring Sabah and Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain an independent state.

In 1967, Sultan Omar abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defense Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.

On January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Under Brunei’s 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The Sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. A Council of Ministers, or cabinet, which currently consists of fourteen members (including the Sultan himself), assists in the administration of the government. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. His son, the Crown Prince, serves as Senior Minister. One of the Sultan’s brothers, Prince Mohamed, serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Brunei’s legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the sultan. The local magistrates’ courts try most cases. More serious cases go before the High Court, which sits for about 2 weeks every few months. Brunei has an arrangement with the United Kingdom whereby United Kingdom judges are appointed as the judges for Brunei’s High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London in civil but not criminal cases. Brunei also has a separate system of Islamic courts that apply Sharia law in family and other matters involving Muslims. Brunei is considering merging the common law and Islamic legal systems.

The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the current form of government by providing economic benefits such as subsidized food, fuel, and housing; free education and medical care; and low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 interview that he intended to proceed, with prudence, to establish more liberal institutions in the country and that he would reintroduce elections and a legislature when he “[could] see evidence of a genuine interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of Bruneians.” In 1994, a constitutional review committee submitted its findings to the Sultan, but these have not been made public. In 2004 the Sultan re-introduced a fully appointed Legislative Council with minimal powers.

Brunei’s economy is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The government uses its earnings in part to build up its foreign reserves, which at one time reportedly reached more than $30 billion. The country’s wealth, coupled with its membership in the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference give it an influence in the world disproportionate to its size.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 7/21/2006

Sultan: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Prime Minister: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Communications: Awang ABU BAKAR bin Apong

Min. of Culture, Youth, & Sports: MOHAMMAD bin Daud, Gen. (Ret.)

Min. of Defense: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Development: ABDULLAH bin Begawan

Min. of Education: Abdul RAHMAN bin Mohamed Taib

Min. of Energy: YAHYA bin Begawan

Min. of Finance: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Finance II: ABDUL RAHMAN bin Ibrahim

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade: MOHAMED Bolkiah, Prince

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Trade II: LIM Jock Seng

Min. of Health: SUYOI bin Osman

Min. of Home Affairs: ADANAN bin Begawan

Min. of Industry & Primary Resources: AHMAD bin Jumat, Dr.

Min. of Religious Affairs: MOHD ZAIN bin Serudin, Dr.

Senior Min. in the Prime Minister’s Office: Al Muhtadee BILLAH, Crown Prince

Ambassador to the US: PUTEH ibni Mohammad Alam

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: EMRAN bin Bahar

Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 3520 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-237-1838.

ECONOMY

The Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, coupled with fluctuations in the price of oil created uncertainty and instability in Brunei’s economy. In addition, the 1998 collapse of the Amedeo Development Corporation, Brunei’s largest construction firm whose projects helped fuel the domestic economy, caused the country to slip into a mild recession. Rising oil prices and the restructuring of Amedeo Corporation investments have led to a restoration of moderate but steady economic growth in recent years. The IMF forecasts real GDP growth increasing by 2.2% in 2006. Growth reached 1.7% in 2004.

Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 20,800 barrels a day. It also is the seventh-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world.) Like many oil producing countries, Brunei’s economy followed the swings of the world oil market in the 1980s and 1990s. Economic growth has averaged around 2.8% in the 2000’s, heavily dependent on oil and gas production. Oil production has averaged around 200,000 barrels a day during the 2000s, while liquefied natural gas output has been slight under or over 1,000 trillion btu/day over the same period. Brunei is estimated to have oil reserves expected to last 25 years, and enough natural gas reserves to last 40 years.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), a joint venture owned in equal shares by the Brunei Government and the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is the chief oil and gas production company in Brunei. It also operates the country’s only refinery. BSP and four sister companies constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government. BSP’s small refinery has a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. This satisfies domestic demand for most petroleum products.

The French oil company ELF Aquitaine became active in petroleum exploration in Brunei in the 1980s. Known as Elf Petroleum Asia BV in 1992, it has discovered commercially exploitable quantities of oil and gas in three of the four wells drilled since 1987, including a particularly promising discovery announced in early 1990. The company has renamed Total Fina Elf in 2001 and changed names again in 2003 to Total E&P Borneo BV. Brunei awarded one block to a Canadian-led consortium in early 2006, and another to a consortium of two U.S. companies and a U.K. registered one. In 2003, Malaysia disputed Brunei-awarded oil exploration concessions for blocks J and K, which led to both countries ceasing exploration activities. Negotiations between the two countries are continuing in order to resolve the conflict.

Brunei’s oil production peaked in 1979 at more than 240,000 barrels per day. Since then it has been deliberately cut back to extend the life of oil reserves and improve recovery rates. Petroleum production is averaged just under 200,000 barrels per day in the first half of 2005. Japan has traditionally been the main customer for Brunei’s oil exports, and in 2004 took in about 36.7% of Brunei’s total exports (dominated by hydrocarbons), followed by ASEAN countries, South Korea, and Australia.

Almost all of Brunei’s natural gas is liquefied at Brunei Shell’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, which opened in 1972 and is one of the largest LNG plants in the world. Some 90% of Brunei’s LNG produced is sold to Japan under a long-term agreement renewed in 1993. The agreement calls for Brunei to provide over 5 million tons of LNG per year to three Japanese utilities, namely to TEPCo, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (J.TER or 5001), Tokyo Gas Co. (J.TYG or 9531) and Osaka Gas Co. (J.OSG or 9532). The Japanese company, Mitsubishi, is a joint venture partner with Shell and the Brunei Government in Brunei LNG, Brunei Coldgas, and Brunei Shell Tankers, which together produce the LNG and supply it to Japan.

Since 1995, Brunei has supplied more than 700,000 tons of LNG to the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) as well. In 1999, Brunei’s natural gas production reached 90 cargoes per day. A small amount of natural gas is used for domestic power generation. Since 2001, Japan remains the dominant export market for natural gas. Brunei is the fourth-largest exporter of LNG in the Asia-Pacific region behind Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

The government sought in the past decade to diversify the economy with limited success. Oil and gas and government spending still account for most of Brunei’s economic activity. Brunei’s non-petroleum industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and banking. The garment-for-export industry has been shrinking since the U.S. eliminated its garment quota system at the end of 2004. The Brunei Economic Development Board announced plans in 2003 to use proven gas reserves to establish downstream industrial projects. The Government plans to build a power plant in the Sungai Liang region to power a proposed aluminum smelting plant that will depend on foreign investors. A second major project depending on foreign investment is in the planning stage: a giant container hub at the Muara Port facilities.

The government regulates the immigration of foreign labor out of concern it might disrupt Brunei’s society. Work permits for foreigners are issued only for short periods and must be continually renewed. Despite these restrictions, foreigners make up a significant portion of the work force. The government reported a total work force of 160,500 in 2004, with an derived unemployment rate of 4.8%.

Oil and natural gas account for almost all exports. Since only a few products other than petroleum are produced locally, a wide variety of items must be imported. Nonetheless, Brunei has had a significant trade surplus in the 2000s. IMF statistics show Singapore, Malaysia and the UK as the leading importers in 2004. The United States was the seventh supplier of imports to Brunei in 2004.

Brunei’s substantial foreign reserves are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance. BIA’s guiding principle is to increase the real value of Brunei’s foreign reserves while pursuing a diverse investment strategy, with holdings in the United States, Japan, Western Europe, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Brunei Government encourages more foreign investment. New enterprises that meet certain criteria can receive pioneer status, exempting profits from income tax for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of capital invested. The normal corporate income tax rate is 30%. There is no personal income tax or capital gains tax.

One of the government’s priorities is to encourage the development of Brunei Malays as leaders of industry and commerce. There are no specific restrictions of foreign equity ownership, but local participation, both shared capital and management, is encouraged. Such participation helps when tendering for contracts with the government or Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Companies in Brunei must either be incorporated locally or registered as a branch of a foreign company and must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Public companies must have a minimum of seven shareholders. Private companies must have a minimum of two but not more than 50 shareholders. At least half of the directors in a company must be residents of Brunei.

The government owns a cattle farm in Australia through which the country’s beef supplies are processed. At 2,262 square miles, this ranch is larger than Brunei itself. Eggs and chickens are largely produced locally, but most of Brunei’s other food needs must be imported. Agriculture and fisheries are among the industrial sectors that the government has selected for highest priority in its efforts to diversify the economy. Recently the government has announced plans for Brunei to become an international offshore financial center as well as a center for Islamic banking. Brunei is keen on the development of small and medium enterprises and also is investigating the possibility of establishing a “cyber park” to develop an information technology industry. Brunei has also promoted tourism.

DEFENSE

The Sultan is both Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (RBAF). All infantry, navy, and air combat units are made up of volunteers. There are two infantry battalions equipped with armored reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers and supported by Rapier air defense missiles and a flotilla of coastal patrol vessels armed with surface-to-surface missiles. Brunei has ordered, but not yet taken possession of, three offshore patrol vessels from the U.K. Brunei has a defense agreement with the United Kingdom, under which a British Armed Forces Ghurka battalion (1,500 men) is permanently stationed in Seria, near the center of Brunei’s oil industry. The RBAF has joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the United Kingdom and many other countries, including the United States. The U.S. and Brunei signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation in November 1994. The two countries conduct an annual military exercise called CARAT.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Brunei joined ASEAN on January 7, 1984—one week after resuming full independence—and gives its ASEAN membership the highest priority in its foreign relations. Brunei joined the UN in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Brunei hosted the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2000 and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2002.

U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the 1800s. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei. The two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867. The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darussalam’s full independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in March 1984. Brunei’s armed forces engage in joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. A memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994. The Sultan visited Washington in December 2002.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (E) Address: 3rd Flr Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan; APO/FPO: PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507; Phone: (673) (2) 229-670 X 119/150; Fax: (673)(2) 225-293; Workweek: 7:45am-4:30pm; Website: usembassy.state.gov/Brunei.

AMB:Emil M Skodon
AMB OMS:Supin Horton
DCM:Justin Friedman
POL/ECO:Justin Friedman
CON:Justin Friedman
MGT:Terry Murphree
DAO:(Singapore)
EEO:(Singapore)
FMO:(Singapore)
GSO:Terry Murphree
IMO:Marvin A Biteng
INS:(Singapore)
IPO:Marvin A Biteng
IRS:(Singapore)
ISO:Marvin Biteng
ISSO:Marvin Biteng
RSO:Nicholas C Porter

Last Updated: 9/22/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 10, 2006

Country Description: Brunei Darussalam is a small Islamic Sultanate on the northwest coast of the Island of Borneo. It is divided into four districts, namely Brunei/Muara, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is its only major city. Brunei’s official language is Malay but English is widely understood and used in business. Tourist facilities and services are generally available throughout the country. For more information concerning Brunei, please see the Government of Brunei website at http://www.brunei.gov.bn.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. passport-holders must have at least six months validity remaining on their passport before entering or visiting Brunei for business or pleasure may obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. There is an airport departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 237-1838, or visit the Embassy of Brunei website at http://www.bruneiembassy.org for the most current visa information.

Effective June 12, 2004, Immigration offenders will be punishable by caning. Workers who overstay their visas can face jail sentences and three strokes of the cane. Those associated with violators, such as contractors or employers, are subject to the same penalties if found guilty.

Safety and Security: Following the October 2002, August 2003, September 2004 and October 2005 terrorist bombings in Indonesia, the Department of State continues to be concerned that terrorist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), that have transnational capability to carry out terrorist attacks, may do so in various Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei. JI is known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia and to have connections with Al-Qaeda, other regional terrorist groups and previous regional terrorist attacks. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include, but are not limited to, facilities where Americans and other Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, including, but not limited to, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events. Americans in Brunei should continue to be vigilant with regard to their personal security, maintain a low profile, vary times and routes during their daily routines, and report any suspicious activity to the local police or to the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Officer.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Though there is some crime, violent crime is rare. Burglary and theft is on the rise. Americans are reminded to be prudent in their own personal security practices.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: There is adequate care for basic medical conditions in Brunei; however, due to unpredictable shortages of materials and uncertain support staff, elective surgeries or complicated care is best obtained in Singapore or elsewhere.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning road and driving conditions in foreign countries is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Brunei has an extensive network of roads of generally good though varying quality throughout the country that includes highways, link roads, flyovers and roundabouts. Holders of foreign driving license are permitted to drive in Brunei Darussalam for 90 days only. For longer stays a foreign driving license must be endorsed to a Brunei driving license at any Land Transport Department office. Drivers must obey traffic rules at all the times and should take extra caution when approaching traffic signals. In urban areas, some local drivers have run through red lights resulting in several deadly accidents in recent years.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Brunei’s Department of Civil Aviation as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Brunei’s air carrier operations. For more information, visit http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Immigration Violations: Americans in Brunei are subject to the laws of the country and may be arrested for violation of the new immigration regulations, or any other law. In such cases, the Embassy will provide consular services to American citizens arrested in Brunei, in accordance with international law and U.S. regulations. However, the Embassy may not intervene in local judicial matters. Americans should be aware that the new immigration law is more stringent and less flexible than the previous one, with harsher penalties.

The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens on contract in Brunei be fully aware of their immigration status and of crucial dates regarding contract extensions and renewals, and have their employment documents in order. It would be wise to apply the same approach to any personal and domestic staff they may have hired, to ensure that they, too, do not run afoul of Brunei immigration regulations.

Dual Nationality: Brunei does not recognize or permit dual nationality. Brunei nationals are expected to enter and exit on their Brunei passports. Should Brunei authorities learn that a person is a dual national, they may require renunciation of United States or Brunei citizenship immediately.

Customs Regulations: Brunei customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency restrictions, ivory and alcohol. For non-Muslims, limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brunei’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brunei are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin, ecstasy and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, cocaine of more than 30 grams, cannabis of more than 500 grams, syabu or meth-amphetamine of more than 50 grams, or opium of more than 1.2 kg carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts can result in a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Brunei are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s Travel Registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Brunei. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, at the corner of Jalan Sultan and Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8811, Brunei Darussalam. Mail sent from the United States can be addressed to the Embassy’s FPO address: American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673)(2) 229-670, fax number (673)(2) 225-293 and e-mail address [email protected] The Consular section’s e-mail address is: [email protected] The Embassy’s after-hours number for emergency calls is (673)(8) 730-691.

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Brunei

Brunei

  • Area: 2,228 sq mi (5,770 sq km) / World Rank: 166
  • Location: Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, in the northwest of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia
  • Coordinates: 4°30′N, 114°40′E
  • Borders: 237 mi (381 km)
  • Coastline: 100 mi (160 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Mt. Pagon, 6,070 ft (1,850 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest River: Belait River, 130 mi (209 km)
  • Largest Lake: Tasek Merimbun, 0.4 sq mi (1.2 sq km)
  • Natural Hazards: Earthquakes and typhoons (rare)
  • Population: 343,653 (2001 est.) / World Rank: 169
  • Capital City: Bandar Seri Begawan, located in the north along an inlet of the Brunei River
  • Largest City: Bandar Seri Begawan (75,000, 2001 est.)

OVERVIEW

The small country of Brunei is an enclave on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, which it shares with the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and with Indonesia. The country consists of distinct eastern and western segments, separated by Malaysia's Limbang River valley, but linked by the waters of Brunei Bay. The terrain in both the eastern segment (the Temburong District) and the more populated western segment is composed of coastal plain rising gradually to hills and cut through by rivers running north to the sea.

MOUNTAIN AND HILLS

Hills and Badlands

In the west of Brunei, hills lower than 295 ft (90 m) rise towards an escarpment and higher hills approaching the Sarawak border. Brunei's highest peak, Mt. Pagon (6,070 ft / 1,850 m) is located in this region. Brunei's eastern sector is also covered with low hills, which gain height close to the border with Sarawak.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Lakes

There are a few lakes in Brunei. In Tutong District, the unusual S-shaped Tasek Merimbun is surrounded by a 30 sq mi (77 sq km) nature park. Wong Kadir and Teraja Lakes are in Belait District.

Rivers

Four indigenous river systems and one originating in the Malaysian state of Sarawak flow north through and between the segments of Brunei to the South China Sea. The Belait River, Brunei's longest, flows through western Brunei, as does the Tutong River. The Brunei River runs southwest from an inlet of Brunei Bay (where Bandar Seri Begawan is located). In the eastern segment of Brunei, the Temburong River provides drainage for the entire Temburong District. The Limbang River valley, which belongs to Malaysian Sarawak, splits Brunei in two.

Wetlands

The mangrove forests of Brunei's estuaries are an ecological treasure, considered among the most intact in Southeast Asia. Mangrove forests take up an estimated 3.2 percent of Brunei's land. Brunei's ecologically intact peat swamps (rare in the north of Borneo) are found in western Brunei, along sections of the Belait River and the Tutong River.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

The Sultanate of Brunei originally arose as a trading state strategically located on shipping lanes linking the trade routes of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean through the South China Sea. The immensely valuable hydrocarbon deposits that have produced Brunei's petroleum export boom lie mainly under the South China Sea off Brunei's coast, and along the coastline itself in Belait District.

Major Islands

Brunei has 33 islands, comprising 1.4 percent of its land area. Two islands are in the South China Sea. The others are river islands, or like Pulau Muara Besar, are in Brunei Bay. The islands are important wildlife habitats for species including proboscis monkeys, and are mostly uninhabited by humans, although there is some recreational usage. Brunei has demarcated a fishing zone in an area of the Spratly Islands (which are contested by the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Vietnam) but has not made a formal claim on the Spratly Islands.

The Coast and Beaches

The western section of Brunei has a coastline on the South China Sea, where sandbars lie between estuaries and the open ocean. Belait, Tutong, and Brunei Districts have three river estuaries and significant mangrove forests. In Temburong District (the east) the steep muddy banks of Brunei Bay and its inlets form a major wildlife habitat.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

The temperature of Brunei, a tropical country, averages from 73° to 89°F (23°C to 32°C) year-round. Humidity stays around 80 percent.

Rainfall

The northeast monsoon affects Brunei with heavy rains in November and December. On Brunei's coast the annual rainfall averages around 110 in (275 cm) while inland rainfall amounts to 200 in (500 cm) or more. Brunei is out of the path of most ocean storms such as typhoons, although it can be affected by tidal surges.

Forests and Jungles

Much of Brunei is still covered by exceptionally biodiverse dipterocarpaceous rainforest, in a mixture of primary and secondary growth. Almost all of the interior of Brunei is forested, roughly 75 percent of the entire country. Logging is strictly limited, in contrast to the rampant deforestation inflicted on the rest of Borneo in the last two decades. Only 130,795 cu yd (100,000 cu m)

Districts – Brunei
Name Area (sq mi) Area (sq km) Capital
Belait 1,053 2,727 Kuala Belait
Brunei and Muara 220 570 Bandar Seri Begawan
Temburong 503 1,303 Bangar
Tutong 450 1,165 Tutong
SOURCE : Geo-Data: The World Geographical Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989.

of timber is allowed to be cut each year, for Brunei's domestic use only.

HUMAN POPULATION

Brunei is sparsely populated, with an estimated density of just 53 people per sq mi (20 per sq km) in 1997. Some 85 percent of the country's population lives in the coastal areas, particularly the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan and the coastal towns of Seria, Tutong, and Kuala Belait. Seria and Kuala Belait are centers for the oil and natural gas industry. There is some migration from neighboring countries, and Brunei hosts tens of thousands of foreign workers, most employed in the petroleum sector.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Brunei has been economically dependent on vast hydrocarbon reserves along its coastline, producing oil, natural gas, and liquified natural gas. These petroleum deposits are expected to be depleted by the second or third decade of the twenty-first century. Agriculture is a minor part of Brunei's economic picture (most food is imported) and there are no other significant economic resources. Brunei's forests have been protected from economic exploitation but are a resource for scientific study and eco-tourism.

FURTHER READINGS

Cleary, Mark. Oil, Economic Development and Diversification in Brunei Darussalam. New York: Palgrave, 1994.

Edwards, David S. A Tropical Rainforest: The Nature of Biodiversity in Borneo at Belalong, Brunei. Torrance, CA: Heian International, 1995.

Pelton, Robert Young. Fielding's Borneo. Redondo Beach, CA: Fielding Worldwide, 1995.

Thia-Eng, Chua. Brunei Darussalam: Coastal Environmental Profile of Brunei Darussalam. Washington, DC: U.S. Agency for International Development, 1987.

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Brunei

Brunei

At a Glance

Official Name: The Sultanate of Brunei

Continent: Asia

Area: 2,035 square miles (5,270 sq km)

Population: 343,653

Capital City: Bandar Seri Begawan

Largest City: Bandar Seri Begawan (50,000)

Unit of Money: Bruneian dollar

Major Languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese

Literacy: 89%

Land Use: 1% arable, 2% permanent crops, 85% forests, 12% other

Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas, timber

Government: Constitutional sultanate

Defense: 48 million

The Place

Brunei is on the northwest corner of the island of Borneo. The country actually consists of two different areas of land, separated by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Brunei lies south of the South China Sea with 100 miles (161 km) of coastline. About 70% of Brunei is covered by tropical rain forest.

The western section of Brunei is the larger area. Just inland from the beaches lies a coastal plain that stretches from east to west for 56 miles (90 km). The land becomes more hilly towards the southern part of the country, climbing more than 1,650 feet (500 m) above sea level.

The eastern section of Brunei is much more mountainous, especially in the southeast. There, the country's highest point, Pagon Peak, reaches 6,070 feet (1,850 km) above sea level.

Brunei has a tropical climate with temperatures between 76° and 86° F (24° and 30°C). The country gets plenty of rain, averaging 100 inches (254 cm) on the coast and 150 inches (388 cm) in the interior.

The People

The people of Brunei enjoy a healthy economy and a high standard of living due to the country's great oil wealth. Healthcare and education are free. Life expectancy is 72 years.

Approximately 60% of the Bruneian population lives in urban areas. Many reside in Bandar Seri Begawan, Seria, and Kuala Belait. The interior of Brunei is home to a small number of indigenous people.

The Language and Literature Bureau in Brunei promotes cultural activities in the country. The Art and Handicraft Centre displays traditional items made in Brunei, including boats, silver products, bronze tools, and baskets.

The population celebrates many festivals and holidays. One of the most important, His Majesty the Sultan's Birthday, takes place in July. The entire country joins in the parades, fireworks, and special food. In February, Bruneians celebrate their country with National Day.

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Brunei

BRUNEI

Compiled from the August 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Negara Brunei Darussalam

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 5,769 sq. km. (2,227 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware.

Cities: Capital—Bandar Seri Begawan.

Terrain: East—flat coastal plains with beaches; west—hilly with a few mountain ridges.

Climate: Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bruneian(s).

Population: (2001 est.) 360,000.

Annual growth rate: 2.2%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other, indigenous groups.

Religion: Islam.

Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy (2001)—92.5%.

Health: Life expectancy—74 yrs. Infant mortality rate (2000)—7.3/1,000.


Government

Type: Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Independence: January 1, 1984.

Constitution: 1959.

Branches: Executive—Sultan is both head of state and Prime Minister, presiding over a nine-member cabinet. Judicial (based on Indian penal code and English common law)—magistrate's courts, High Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London).

Subdivisions: Four districts—Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong.


Economy

GDP: (2002) $4.55 billion.

Growth rate: (2002 est.) 3.0%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Trade: Exports—oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, garments. Major markets—Japan, Korea, ASEAN, U.S. Imports—machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers—ASEAN, Japan, U.S., EU.



PEOPLE

Many cultural and linguistic differences make Brunei Malays distinct from the larger Malay populations in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, even though they are ethnically related and share the Muslim religion.

Brunei has a hereditary nobility with the title Pengiran. The Sultan can award to commoners the title Pehin, the equivalent of a life peerage awarded in the United Kingdom. The Sultan also can award his subjects the Dato, the equivalent of a knighthood in the United Kingdom, and Datin, the equivalent of a damehood.


Bruneians adhere to the practice of using complete full names with all titles, including the title Haji (for men) or Hajjah (for women) for those who have made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Brunei Malay women wear the tudong, a traditional head covering. Men wear the songkok, a traditional Malay cap. Men who have completed the Haj wear a white songkok.


The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing tests in Malay culture, customs, and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas. The majority of Brunei's Chinese are permanent residents, and many are stateless. An amendment to the National Registration and Immigration Act of 2002, allowed female Bruneians citizens for the first time to transfer their nationality to their children.


Oil wealth allows the Brunei Government to provide the population with one of Asia's finest health care systems. Malaria has been eradicated, and cholera is virtually nonexistent. There are three general hospitals—in Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, and Kuala Belait—and there are numerous health clinics throughout the country.


Education starts with preschool, followed by 6 years of primary education and up to 6 years of secondary education. Nine years of education are mandatory. Most of Brunei's college students attend universities and other institutions abroad, but approximately 2,867 study at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Opened in 1985, the university has a faculty of more than 300 instructors and is located on a sprawling campus overlooking the South China Sea.


The official language is Malay, but English is widely understood and used in business. Other languages spoken are several Chinese dialects, Iban, and a number of native dialects. Islam is the official religion, but religious freedom is guaranteed under the constitution.



HISTORY

Historians believe there was a forerunner to the present Brunei Sultanate, which the Chinese called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabic records indicate that this ancient trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. This early kingdom was apparently conquered by the Sumatran Hindu empire of Srivijaya in the early ninth century, which later controlled northern Borneo and the Philippines. It was subjugated briefly by the Java-based Majapahit Empire but soon regained its independence and once again rose to prominence.


The Brunei Empire had its golden age from the 15th to the 17th centuries, when its control extended over the entire island of Borneo and north into the Philippines. Brunei was particularly powerful under the fifth sultan, Bolkiah (1473-1521), who was famed for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila; and under the ninth sultan, Hassan (1605-19), who fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.

After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline, due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region, that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later "Rajah" of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control.


Meanwhile, the British North Borneo Company was expanding its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1888, Brunei became a protectorate of the British Government, retaining internal independence but with British control over external affairs. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control when executive power was transferred to a British resident, who advised the ruler on all matters except those concerning local custom and religion.


In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. An attempt in 1962 to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Partai Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighboring Sabah and Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain an independent state.


In 1967, Sultan Omar abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defense Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.

On January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.



GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The Sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. A Council of Ministers, or cabinet, which currently consists of nine members (including the Sultan himself), assists in the administration of the government. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. One of the Sultan's brothers, Prince Mohamed, serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the sultan. Most cases are tried by the local magistrate's courts. More serious cases go before the High Court, which sits for about 2 weeks every few months. Brunei has an arrangement with the United Kingdom whereby United Kingdom judges are appointed as the judges for Brunei's High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London in civil but not criminal cases.


The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the current form of government by providing economic benefits such as subsidized food, fuel and housing, free education and medical care, and low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 interview that he intended to proceed, with prudence, to establish more liberal institutions in the country and that he would reintroduce elections and a legislature when he "[could] see evidence of a genuine interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of Bruneians." In 1994, a constitutional review committee submitted its findings to the Sultan, but these have not been made public.

Brunei's economy is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The government uses its earnings in part to build up its foreign reserves, which at one time reportedly reached more than $30 billion. The country's wealth, coupled with its membership in the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference give it an influence in the world disproportionate to its size.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 12/4/03


Sultan: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Prime Minister: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Communications: ZAKARIA bin Sulaiman,

Min. of Culture, Youth, & Sports: HUSSAIN bin Mohamed Yusof,

Min. of Defense: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Development: AHMAD bin Jumat,

Min. of Education: Abdul AZIZ bin Umar,

Min. of Finance: HASSANAL Bolkiah, Sir

Min. of Foreign Affairs: MOHAMED Bolkiah,

Min. of Health: ABU BAKAR bin Apong,

Min. of Home Affairs: ISA bin Ibrahim,

Min. of Industry & Primary Resources: ABDUL RAHMAN bin Mohamed Taib,

Min. of Religious Affairs: Mohamed ZAIN bin Serudin,


Ambassador to the US: Pengiran Anak Dato Haji PUTEH,

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: SHOFRY bin Abdul Ghafor,


Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 3520 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. 202-237-1838.



ECONOMY

The Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, coupled with fluctuations in the price of oil have created uncertainty and instability in Brunei's economy. In addition, the 1998 collapse of the Amedeo Development Corporation, Brunei's largest construction firm whose projects helped fuel the domestic economy, caused the country to slip into a mild recession.

Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 200,000 barrels a day. It also is the fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world. Brunei's gross domestic product (GDP) soared with the petroleum price increases of the 1970s to a peak of $5.7 billion in 1980. It declined slightly in each of the next 5 years, then fell by almost 30% in 1986.

This drop was caused by a combination of sharply lower petroleum prices in world markets and voluntary production cuts in Brunei. The GDP recovered somewhat since 1986, growing by 12% in 1987, 1% in 1988, and 9% in 1989. In recent years, GDP growth was 4.0% in 1997, 1.0% in 1998, 2.5% in 1999, and an estimated 3.0% in 2000. However, the 2000 GDP was about $4.65 billion, still below the 1980 peak.

In the 1970s, Brunei invested sharply increasing revenues from petroleum exports and maintained government spending at a low and constant rate. Consequently, the government was able to build its foreign reserves and invest them around the world to help provide for future generations. Part of the reserve earnings were reportedly also used to help finance the government's annual budget deficit. Since 1986, however, petroleum revenues have decreased, and government spending has increased. Until 2000, the government ran a budget deficit since 1988.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), a joint venture owned in equal shares by the Brunei Government and the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is the chief oil and gas production company in Brunei. It also operates the country's only refinery. BSP and four sister companies constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government. BSP's small refinery has a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. This satisfies domestic demand for most petroleum products.

The French oil company, ELF Aquitaine, became active in petroleum exploration in Brunei in the 1980s. Known as Elf Petroleum Asia BV, it has discovered commercially exploitable quantities of oil and gas in three of the four wells drilled since 1987, including a particularly promising discovery announced in early 1990. Brunei is preparing to tender concessions for deepwater oil and gas exploration. In 2003, Malaysia disputed Brunei-awarded oil exploration concessions, which led to both countries ceasing exploration activities. Negotiations between the two countries are continuing in order to resolve the conflict.

Brunei's oil production peaked in 1979 at more than 240,000 barrels per day. Since then it has been deliberately cut back to extend the life of oil reserves and improve recovery rates. Petroleum production is currently averaging 200,000 barrels per day. Japan has traditionally been the main customer for Brunei's oil exports and in 1999 took in about 50.3% of Brunei's export production, followed by the United States (13.9%), Korea (13.5%), and Thailand (13.3%). Other major customers include Taiwan and the countries of ASEAN.

Almost all of Brunei's natural gas is liquefied at Brunei Shell's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, which opened in 1972 and is one of the largest LNG plants in the world. Some 88% of Brunei's LNG produced is sold to Japan under a long-term agreement renewed in 1993. The agreement calls for Brunei to provide over 5 million tons of LNG per year to three Japanese utilities. The Japanese company, Mitsubishi, is a joint venture partner with Shell and the Brunei Government in Brunei LNG, Brunei Coldgas, and Brunei Shell Tankers, which together produce the LNG and supply it to Japan. Since 1995, Brunei has supplied more than 700,000 tons of LNG to the Korea Gas Corporation as well. In 1999, Brunei's natural gas production reached 90 cargoes per day. A small amount of natural gas is used for domestic power generation. Brunei is the fourth-largest exporter of LNG in the Asia-Pacific region behind Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

Brunei's proven oil and gas reserves are sufficient until at least 2015, and planned deep-sea exploration is expected to find significant new reserves. The government sought in the past decade to diversify the economy with limited success. Oil and gas and governments pending still account for most of Brunei's economic activity. Brunei's non-petroleum industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and banking. The Brunei Economic Development Board announced plans in 2003 to use proven gas reserves to establish downstream industrial projects. A 500MX power plant is to be built in the Sungai Liang region to power an aluminum smelting plant. A second major project in the planning stage is a giant container hub at the Muara Port facilities. Both projects depend on foreign direct investors.

The government regulates the immigration of foreign labor out of concern it might disrupt Brunei's society. Work permits for foreigners are issued only for short periods and must be continually renewed. Despite these restrictions, foreigners make up a significant portion of the work force. The government reported a total work force of 158,000 in 2002, with an official unemployment rate of 4.6%.

Oil and natural gas account for almost all exports. Since only a few products other than petroleum are produced locally, a wide variety of items must be imported. Brunei statistics show Singapore as the largest point of origin of imports, accounting for 28.5% in 1999. However, this figure includes some transshipment, since most of Brunei's imports transit Singapore. Japan and Malaysia were the second-largest suppliers. As in many other countries, Japanese products dominate local markets for motor vehicles, construction equipment, electronic goods, and household appliances. The United States was the third-largest supplier of imports to Brunei in 1998.

Brunei's substantial foreign reserves are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance. BIA's guiding principle is to increase the real value of Brunei's foreign reserves while pursuing a diverse investment strategy, with holdings in the United States, Japan, western Europe, and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Brunei Government encourages more foreign investment. New enterprises that meet certain criteria can receive pioneer status, exempting profits from income tax for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of capital invested. The normal corporate income tax rate is 30%. There is no personal income tax or capital gains tax.

One of the government's priorities is to encourage the development of Brunei Malays as leaders of industry and commerce. There are no specific restrictions of foreign equity ownership, but local participation, both shared capital and management, is encouraged. Such participation helps when tendering for contracts with the government or Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Companies in Brunei must either be incorporated locally or registered as a branch of a foreign company and must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Public companies must have a minimum of seven shareholders. Private companies must have a minimum of two but not more than 50 shareholders. At least half of the directors in a company must be residents of Brunei.

The government owns a cattle farm in Australia that supplies most of the country's beef. At 2,262 square miles, this ranch is larger than Brunei itself. Eggs and chickens are largely produced locally, but most of Brunei's other food needs must be imported. Agriculture and fisheries are among the industrial sectors that the government has selected for highest priority in its efforts to diversify the economy.

Recently the government has announced plans for Brunei to become an International Offshore Financial Center as well as a Center for Islamic Banking. Brunei is keen on the development of small and medium enterprises and also is investigating the possibility of establishing a "cyber park" to develop an information technology industry. Brunei also fostered tourism through its "Visit Brunei 2001" campaign, which has been sustained into the current year, which has shown a slight increase in tourist arrival.



DEFENSE

The Sultan is both Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (RBAF). All infantry, navy, and air combat units are made up of volunteers. There are two infantry brigades, equipped with armored reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers and supported by Rapier air defense missiles and a flotilla of coastal patrol vessels armed with surface-to-surface missiles.

Brunei has a defense agreement with the United Kingdom, under which a British Armed Forces Ghurka battalion (1,500 men) is permanently stationed in Seria, near the center of Brunei's oil industry. The RBAF has joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the United Kingdom and many other countries, including the United States. The United States and Brunei signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation in November 1994. The two countries conduct an annual military exercise called CARAT.



FOREIGN RELATIONS

Brunei joined ASEAN on January 7, 1984—one week after resuming full independence—and gives its ASEAN membership the highest priority in its foreign relations. Brunei joined the United Nations in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Brunei hosts the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November 2000.



U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the last century. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei. The two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867.

The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darussalam's full independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in March 1984. Brunei's armed forces engage in joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. An MOU on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Bandar Seri Begawan (E), Third Floor - Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam • PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507, Emb Tel [673] (2) 220-384, 229-670, Fax 225-293; Amb direct line 240-763; Duty Officer Tel [673] (8) 730-691; DCM direct line 241-645; COM Fax 226-523; STU III Fax 240-761. E-mail: [email protected] Website: bsb.usembassy.state.gov.

AMB: Gene B. Christy
AMB OMS: Elizabeth J. Ryley
DCM: Robert W. Pons
ADM/CON: Audrey K. Lee
IRM/GSO: Ken A. Kobilarcik
RSO: James "Chance" Rowe
ODC: COL Gary Donnalley (res. Singapore)
RMO: Dr. Thomas Yun (res. Singapore)
DATT: COL John Bordwell (res. Singapore)
ATO: Bonnie Borris (res. Singapore)
FAA: [Vacant]
DAO: CAPT Carlton E. Soderholm (res. Singapore)
CUS: Robert F. Tine (res. Singapore)
IRS: Billy J. Brown (res. Singapore)
PAO: Charles Barclay (res. Kuala Lumpur)
SAO: COL Gary Donnalley (res. Singapore)
DEA: Michael J. Ferguson (res. Singapore)

Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003


TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
October 23, 2002


Country Description: Brunei is a small Islamic Sultanate on the northwest coast of the Island of Borneo. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is the only major city. Tourist facilities are good and generally available. For more information concerning Brunei, please see the Government of Brunei website at www.brunei.gov.bn.

Entry and Exit Requirements: U.S. passport-holders visiting Brunei for business or pleasure may obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. There is an airport departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; tel. (202) 342-0159 (http://www.bruneiembassy.org).

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security Information: Following the October 2002 and August 2003 terrorist bombings in Indonesia, the Department of State continues to be concerned that extremist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), that have transnational capability to carry out terrorist attacks, may do so in various Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei. JI, designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, is known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia and to have connections with al-Qaeda, other regional terrorist groups and previous regional terrorist attacks. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, especially hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events. Americans in Brunei should continue to be vigilant with regard to their personal security, maintain a low profile, varying times and routes during their daily routines, and report any suspicious activity to the local police or to the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Public Announcements and Travel Warnings can be found.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Crime: The crime rate in Brunei is medium, and violent crime is rare; burglaries and theft are on the rise. Americans are reminded to be prudent in their own personal security practices.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: There is adequate care for basic medical conditions in Brunei; however, due to unpredictable shortages of materials and uncertain support staff, elective surgeries or complicated care is best obtained in Singapore or elsewhere.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at www.who.int/ith.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Brunei is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside assistance: Good


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Brunei driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Brunei National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at www.brunei.gov.bn.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Brunei's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Brunei's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation (DOT) at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 618-229-4801.

Customs Regulations: Brunei customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency restrictions, ivory and alcohol. For non-Muslims, limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brunei's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brunei are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin, ecstasy and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, Cocaine of more than 30 grams, Cannabis of more than 500 grams, Syabu or methamphetamine of more than 50 grams, or Opium of more than 1.2 kg. carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts can result in a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration and Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Brunei are encouraged to register at the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Brunei and obtain updated information on travel and security within Brunei. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8811, Brunei Darussalam. Mail sent from the United States can be addressed to the Embassy's FPO address: American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673) (2) 229-670, fax number (673) (2) 225-293 and e-mail address [email protected] The Consular section's fax number is (673)(2) 23-5254 and their e-mail address is: Consular [email protected] The Embassy's after-hours number for emergency calls is (673)(8) 730-691.

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Brunei

Brunei

POPULATION 350,898
MUSLIM 67 percent
BUDDHIST 13 percent
CHRISTIAN 10 percent
OTHER 10 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

Negara Brunei Darussalam is a tiny, oil-rich sultanate of 2,226 square miles. It is situated next to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak in the northwestern corner of Borneo. Malay Muslims form the majority of the population.

The people of Brunei enjoy a high per capita income and extensive welfare benefits. Since 1967 the head of state has been Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th in an unbroken line of sultans (Brunei's Hindu-Brahmanic and Buddhist polity was converted in mid-fourteenth century to an Islamic dynasty). Most indigenous peoples, such as the Muruts and Dusuns, have not converted to Islam. Modern immigrants, such as the Chinese, Ibans, and Indians, principally adhere to Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Brunei is a staunchly Islamic state. The 1959 constitution stipulates that Brunei is to remain as a Malay Islamic monarchical state but guarantees freedom of worship to religious minorities. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is vigilant in enforcing Islamic practices, and special religious officers investigate any breach of Islamic law by Muslims. Thus, the sale of alcohol is banned, and consumption of meat is permissible only with the approval of state religious authorities. Conversion of Muslims to other religions is taboo.

Major Religion

SUNNI ISLAM

DATE OF ORIGIN 1344 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 235,000

HISTORY

Islam has been the dominant force in the state policy and social life of Brunei for more than 650 years. Yet remnants of Hindu-Brahmanic rituals of the pre-Islamic era are still evident in royal court ceremonies. The strengthening of Islamic practices took place when Shaikh Syarif Ali, an Arab immigrant, married the daughter of the local ruler and became the third sultan in the late fourteenth century. A visiting Italian sailor, Antonio Pigafetta, described Brunei in 1521 as a prosperous and thriving kingdom. Until the sixteenth century Brunei was the stronghold of Islam in Borneo, the Sulu Archipelago, and the southern Philippines. In 1582 the proselytizing Catholic Spanish conquerors of the Philippines clashed with the Brunei sultan. Subsequently, Islamic practices waxed and waned in an impoverished Brunei that was saved from extinction by British intervention during the nineteenth century. When a British residency system was introduced in 1906, only one dilapidated mosque was found in the Brunei capital. Except in matters of Islam, the sultan was obliged to follow the British resident's advice in administration, a policy that indirectly helped to boost the sultan's role as the defender of religion. The wealth from oil, first discovered in 1929, contributed to the revival of Islam, especially after 1950, when Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III (reigned 1950–67) regained authority vis-à-vis the British hegemony.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

In premodern times the court-appointed religious officials, especially the Pehin Menteri Agama, exercised considerable influence. After 1950 Islamic administration became thoroughly revamped and bureaucratized. The sultan, who also acts as the prime minister, functions as both the head of state and head of religion. A special Ministry of Religious Affairs looks after the day-to-day administration of religious matters, while the mufti placed under the prime minister's office issue religious edicts.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Foreign Islamic missionaries were active in the past. Popular works of religious scholars like Shaykh Ahmad Khatib from the neighboring Sambas (southern Borneo) were read and interpreted in the nineteenth century by his Brunei pupils, including Dato Ahmad Banjar and Pehin Abdul Mokti bin Nassar. In the 1840s the teachings of a Brunei Sufi, Haji Mohammed, started a religious schism. Since the mid-1960s a new religious elite educated at Al-Azhar University of Egypt, Al-Juneid Madrasah of Singapore, and the newly established University of Brunei Darussalam have held important bureaucratic positions, especially in religious administration.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

More than 120 mosques and prayer halls, mostly built by state munificence, dot the sultanate. Especially noteworthy are the two state mosques in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Jami Asri Hassanil Bolkiah, a green-domed mosque, was built by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in 1992, and the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque was built by his father, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, in 1958.

WHAT IS SACRED?

As with their Southeast Asian neighbors, the acknowledged form of Islam in Brunei is Sunni Islam. Any attempt to undermine the official teachings with Wahhabism, a puritan form from Saudi Arabia, or other modernist teachings are punishable offenses. As with believers elsewhere, Malay Muslims are strict monotheists, but unlike Muslims in some countries, they do not worship saints or hold tombs or other places to be sacred.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

All major Islamic festivals are celebrated in Brunei. Of those festivals five are declared public holidays: Id al-Fitr (end of the Ramadan fast), Id al-Adzha (day of sacrifice), the Muharram (Islamic New Year, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday), Nuzul al-Koran (revelation of the Koran), and Miraj (day of the Prophet's ascension to heaven). The festival marking the end of the Ramadan fast is celebrated in grand style, when subjects and visitors personally greet the sultan and his family in his palace. The sultan also joins his followers on a long walk around the capital city on the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.

MODE OF DRESS

The Islamic dress code is emphasized. Malay women wear baju kurung, which consists of a loose tunic, called a baju, over a long skirt, or they wear a sarong. The women also wear headscarves called tudong. Men wear a loose shirt over a sarong or a pair of trousers. To complete their ensemble, men also wear a head-dress called a songkok.

DIETARY PRACTICES

The permissible dietary code, or halal, which is strictly enforced, forbids the consumption of meat not approved by state religious authorities. For example, non-Islamic establishments, such as Chinese restaurants where pork is served, must display signs stating that their foods are not suitable for consumption by Muslims. In general, halal certification is issued to restaurants that have Muslim owners, cooks, and managers. A special religious board oversees the import of halal foods, and most local meat slaughtered according to Islamic rites is permissible.

RITUALS

Rituals mark many auspicious occasions and thanksgiving ceremonies, known as Doa Selamat (Conferment of Blessings). During the Ramadan fast Brunei Malays visit and clean the tombs of their ancestors. Since 1990 state officials and common people have prayed (bertahlil) daily near the grave of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin and his consort, the parents of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, an event well covered by state television during the fasting month.

RITES OF PASSAGE

In Brunei religion and local customs are sometimes combined in the celebration of major rites of passage, such as birth, death, and marriage. On the other hand, Islamic reforms and modernization have simplified what were at one time elaborate rituals. An example is the marriage ceremony, which formerly lasted for more than two weeks, from the time of the "beautification" of the bride and bridegroom (majlis berbedak) to the nuptial procession itself (majlis bersanding). In modern times this has been shortened to a few days. Burial rites in Brunei include the recitation of the Koran for seven consecutive nights in the home of the deceased, followed by ceremonies on the 40th and 100th days after death.

MEMBERSHIP

State religious agencies in Brunei actively promote conversion of non-Muslims to Islam. Religious converts receive special gifts from the state and well-wishers. Conversion ceremonies are often highlighted in the state media.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Brunei is a rich welfare state, and laws favor the Malay Muslims with various benefits, including free education, medical care, and government-subsidized housing. The religious ministry collects zakat, tithes made by Muslim followers for distribution to the poor, which is an important religious obligation.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Although Brunei is predominantly an Islamic state, intermarriage between Muslims and non-Muslims does occur. When an interfaith couple marries, the non-Muslim converts to Islam through a process known as masuk melayu (to become a Malay). Children of such marriages become fully assimilated into the Malay Muslim community.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Islam has been given constitutional and public recognition through the Religious Council that advises the sultan in Islamic and religious matters. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has considerable power in formulating and implementing adherence to Islamic laws. Islamic values and beliefs have increasingly been incorporated and manifested within Brunei politics and society. The sultan acts as the defender of the faith, and the constitution guarantees that "the religion of the State shall be the Muslim religion."

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Strict implementation of Islamic legislation creates occasional controversies. For example, unmarried Muslim couples found in khalwat, or close proximity to each other, can be fined and may even be imprisoned. Human rights organizations have at times expressed concern over the undue detention of individuals allegedly involved in evangelical practices forbidden by the state.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Islamic Brunei has not produced noteworthy cultural achievements, although among local Malays there have been talented calligraphists and artists. The state channels artist's creativity into such religious performance arts as public recitation of the Koran. Islam also heavily influences the themes and performance of stage shows, public media, and contemporary literature. The state-built mosques display exquisite characteristics of Southeast Asian Islamic architecture.

Other Religions

The Brunei constitution guarantees freedom of practice for other religions. In 1993 the government participated in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, which affirmed freedom of religion as well as other human rights. Because Islam is the state religion in Brunei, however, other religions are not allowed to proselytize, and occasionally foreign clergy or particular priests, bishops, or ministers are denied entry into the country. Importation of religious teaching materials or scriptures is highly controlled, as are attempts to rebuild non-Muslim places of worship.

During the period of the British residency (1906–59), Christianity did make some inroads in Brunei, although the British authorities shielded local Muslims from its impact. The pioneering Christian denominational schools, including Saint George's and Saint Andrew's in Bandar Seri Begawan and Saint Michael's and Saint Angela's in Seria, are still active. There are a number of Christian churches, many of which are Roman Catholic, including two in Bandar Seri Begawan, three in the oil town of Seria, and two in Kuala Belait.

There are three Chinese temples in Brunei; one, named Kuan Yin, or Goddess of Mercy, is in Bandar Seri Begawan, and the other two, Ching Nam in Muara and Fook Tong Temple, are in Tutong. The Chinese community has run its own denominational schools, including the well-known Chung Hwa Middle School in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Two small Hindu temples, run largely by the transient Gurkha population, are found in Bandar Seri Begawan and Seria. Minor groups like Sikhs and devotees of Sai Baba confine their religious services to their homes. A large number of the minority peoples among the Murut, Dusun, and Punan communities still adhere to their ancestral beliefs, while some choose to remain as freethinkers.

B. A. Hussainmiya

See Also Vol. 1: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sunni Islam

Bibliography

Brunei Ministry of Finance, Statistics Division. Brunei Darussalam Statistical Year Book. Bandar Seri Begawan, 1992.

Hussainmiya, B.A. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain: The Making of Brunei Darussalam. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Iik Arifin Mansurnor. "Historiography and Religious Reform in Brunei during the Period 1912–1950." Studia Islamica, 1995, 48–59.

Kershaw, Eva Maria. A Study of Brunei Dusun Religion: Ethnic Priesthood on a Frontier of Islam. Phillips, Maine: Borneo Research Council, 2000.

Niew Shong Tong. "Brunei." In The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas. Edited by Lynn Pan. Singapore: Archipelago Press, 1998.

Saunders, Graham. A History of Brunei. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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Brunei

BRUNEI

Compiled from the December 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Negara Brunei Darussalam


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 5,769 sq. km. (2,227 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware.

Cities: Capital—Bandar Seri Begawan.

Terrain: East—flat coastal plains with beaches; west—hilly with a few mountain ridges.

Climate: Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Bruneian(s).

Population: (2001 est.) 360,000.

Annual growth rate: 2.2%.

Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other, indigenous groups.

Religions: Islam.

Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy (2001)—92.5%.

Health: Life expectancy—74 yrs. Infant mortality rate (2000)—7.3/1,000.

Government

Type: Malay Islamic Monarchy.

Independence: January 1, 1984.

Constitution: 1959.

Branches: Executive—Sultan is both head of state and Prime Minister, presiding over a nine-member cabinet. Legislative—a Legislative Council has been reactivated after a 20-year suspension to play an advisory role for the Sultan. Judicial (based on Indian penal code and English common law)—magistrate's courts, High Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London).

Administrative subdivisions: Four districts—Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and Temburong.

Economy

GDP: (2002) $4.55 billion.

Growth rate: (2002 est.) 3.0%.

Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.

Trade: Exports—oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, garments. Major markets—Japan, Korea, ASEAN, U.S. Imports—machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers—ASEAN, Japan, U.S., EU.


PEOPLE

Many cultural and linguistic differences make Brunei Malays distinct from the larger Malay populations in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, even though they are ethnically related and share the Muslim religion.

Brunei has hereditary nobility, carrying the title Pengiran. The Sultan can award to commoners the title Pehin, the equivalent of a life peerage awarded in the United Kingdom. The Sultan also can award his subjects the Dato, the equivalent of a knighthood in the United Kingdom, and Datin, the equivalent of damehood.

Bruneians adhere to the practice of using complete full names with all titles, including the title Haji (for men) or Hajjah (for women) for those who have made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Many Brunei Malay women wear the tudong, a traditional head covering. Men wear the songkok, a traditional Malay cap. Men who have completed the Haj wear a white songkok.

The requirements to attain Brunei citizenship include passing tests in Malay culture, customs, and language. Stateless permanent residents of Brunei are given International Certificates of Identity, which allow them to travel overseas. The majority of Brunei's Chinese are permanent residents, and many are stateless. An amendment to the National Registration and Immigration Act of 2002 allowed female Bruneian citizens for the first time to transfer their nationality to their children.

Oil wealth allows the Brunei Government to provide the population with one of Asia's finest health care systems. Malaria has been eradicated, and cholera is virtually nonexistent. There are three general hospitals—in Bandar Seri Begawan, Tutong, and Kuala Belait—and there are numerous health clinics throughout the country.

Education starts with preschool, followed by 6 years of primary education and up to 6 years of secondary education. Nine years of education are mandatory. Most of Brunei's college students attend universities and other institutions abroad, but approximately 2,867 study at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Opened in 1985, the university has a faculty of more than 300 instructors and is located on a sprawling campus overlooking the South China Sea.

The official language is Malay, but English is widely understood and used in business. Other languages spoken are several Chinese dialects, Iban, and a number of native dialects. Islam is the official religion, but religious freedom is guaranteed under the constitution.


HISTORY

Historians believe there was a forerunner to the present Brunei Sultanate, which the Chinese called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabic records indicate that this ancient trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. This early kingdom was apparently conquered by the Sumatran Hindu Empire of Srivijaya in the early ninth century, which later controlled northern Borneo and the Philippines. It was subjugated briefly by the Java-based Majapahit Empire but soon regained its independence and once again rose to prominence.

The Brunei Empire had its golden age from the 15th to the 17th centuries, when its control extended over the entire island of Borneo and north into the Philippines. Brunei was particularly powerful under the fifth sultan, Bolkiah (1473-1521), who was famed for his sea exploits and even briefly captured Manila; and under the ninth sultan, Hassan (1605-19), who fully developed an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.

After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates. In 1839, the English adventurer James Brooke arrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later "Rajah" of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control.

Meanwhile, the British North Borneo Company was expanding its control over territory in northeast Borneo. In 1888, Brunei became a protectorate of the British Government, retaining internal independence but with British control over external affairs. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control when executive power was transferred to a British resident, who advised the ruler on all matters except those concerning local custom and religion.

In 1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defense remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom. An attempt in 1962 to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Partai Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighboring Sabah and Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain an independent state.

In 1967, Sultan Omar abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defense Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawan in his honor. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.

On January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The Sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. A Council of Ministers, or cabinet, which currently consists of nine members (including the Sultan himself), assists in the administration of the government. The Sultan presides over the cabinet as Prime Minister and also holds the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. One of the Sultan's brothers, Prince Mohamed, serves as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and statutes, and legislation enacted by the sultan. The local magistrates' courts try most cases. More serious cases go before the High Court, which sits for about 2 weeks every few months. Brunei has an arrangement with the United Kingdom whereby United Kingdom judges are appointed as the judges for Brunei's High Court and Court of Appeal. Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London in civil but not criminal cases. Brunei is in the process of merging its British style civil law, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the current form of government by providing economic benefits such as subsidized food, fuel, and housing; free education and medical care; and low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 interview that he intended to proceed, with prudence, to establish more liberal institutions in the country and that he would reintroduce elections and a legislature when he "[could] see evidence of a genuine interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of Bruneians." In 1994, a constitutional review committee submitted its findings to the Sultan, but these have not been made public.

Brunei's economy is almost totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The government uses its earnings in part to build up its foreign reserves, which at one time reportedly reached more than $30 billion. The country's wealth, coupled with its membership in the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference give it an influence in the world disproportionate to its size.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/4/03

Sultan: HASSANAL Bolkiah , Sir
Prime Minister: HASSANAL Bolkiah , Sir
Min. of Communications: ZAKARIA bin Sulaiman
Min. of Culture, Youth, & Sports: HUSSAIN bin Mohamed Yusof
Min. of Defense: HASSANAL Bolkiah , Sir
Min. of Development: AHMAD bin Jumat
Min. of Education: Abdul AZIZ bin Umar
Min. of Finance: HASSANAL Bolkiah , Sir
Min. of Foreign Affairs: MOHAMED Bolkiah
Min. of Health: ABU BAKAR bin Apong
Min. of Home Affairs: ISA bin Ibrahim
Min. of Industry & Primary Resources: ABDUL RAHMAN bin Mohamed Taib

Min. of Religious Affairs: Mohamed ZAIN bin Serudin
Ambassador to the US: Pengiran Anak Dato Haji PUTEH
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: SHOFRY bin Abdul Ghafor

Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 3520 International Court, NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-237-1838.


ECONOMY

The Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, coupled with fluctuations in the price of oil have created uncertainty and instability in Brunei's economy. In addition, the 1998 collapse of the Amedeo Development Corporation, Brunei's largest construction firm whose projects helped fuel the domestic economy, caused the country to slip into a mild recession.

Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 200,000 barrels a day. It also is the fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world. Brunei's gross domestic product (GDP) soared with the petroleum price increases of the 1970s to a peak of $5.7 billion in 1980. It declined slightly in each of the next 5 years, then fell by almost 30% in 1986.

This drop was caused by a combination of sharply lower petroleum prices in world markets and voluntary production cuts in Brunei. The GDP recovered somewhat since 1986, growing by 12% in 1987, 1% in 1988, and 9% in 1989. In recent years, GDP growth was 4.0% in 1997, 1.0% in 1998, 2.5% in 1999, and an estimated 3.0% in 2000. However, the 2000 GDP was about $4.65 billion, still below the 1980 peak.

In the 1970s, Brunei invested sharply increasing revenues from petroleum exports and maintained government spending at a low and constant rate. Consequently, the government was able to build its foreign reserves and invest them around the world to help provide for future generations. Part of the reserve earnings was reportedly also used to help finance the government's annual budget deficit. Since 1986, however, petroleum revenues have decreased, and government spending has increased. Until 2000, the government ran a budget deficit since 1988.

Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), a joint venture owned in equal shares by the Brunei Government and the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is the chief oil and gas production company in Brunei. It also operates the country's only refinery. BSP and four sister companies constitute the largest employer in Brunei after the government. BSP's small refinery has a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. This satisfies domestic demand for most petroleum products.

The French oil company ELF Aquitaine became active in petroleum exploration in Brunei in the 1980s. Known as Elf Petroleum Asia BV, it has discovered commercially exploitable quantities of oil and gas in three of the four wells drilled since 1987, including a particularly promising discovery announced in early 1990. Brunei is preparing to tender concessions for deepwater oil and gas exploration. In 2003, Malaysia disputed Brunei-awarded oil exploration concessions, which led to both countries ceasing exploration activities. Negotiations between the two countries are continuing in order to resolve the conflict.

Brunei's oil production peaked in 1979 at more than 240,000 barrels per day. Since then it has been deliberately cut back to extend the life of oil reserves and improve recovery rates. Petroleum production is currently averaging 200,000 barrels per day. Japan has traditionally been the main customer for Brunei's oil exports, and in 1999 took in about 50.3% of Brunei's export production, followed by the United States (13.9%), Korea (13.5%) and Thailand (13.3%). Other major customers include Taiwan and the countries of ASEAN.

Almost all of Brunei's natural gas is liquefied at Brunei Shell's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, which opened in 1972 and is one of the largest LNG plants in the world. Some 88% of Brunei's LNG produced is sold to Japan under a long-term agreement renewed in 1993. The agreement calls for Brunei to provide over 5 million tons of LNG per year to three Japanese utilities. The Japanese company, Mitsubishi, is a joint venture partner with Shell and the Brunei Government in Brunei LNG, Brunei Coldgas, and Brunei Shell Tankers, which together produce the LNG and supply it to Japan. Since 1995, Brunei has supplied more than 700,000 tons of LNG to the Korea Gas Corporation as well. In 1999, Brunei's natural gas production reached 90 cargoes per day. A small amount of natural gas is used for domestic power generation. Brunei is the fourth-largest exporter of LNG in the Asia-Pacific region behind Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

Brunei's proven oil and gas reserves are sufficient until at least 2015, and planned deep-sea exploration is expected to find significant new reserves. The government sought in the past decade to diversify the economy with limited success. Oil and gas and government spending still account for most of Brunei's economic activity. Brunei's non-petroleum industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, and banking. The Brunei Economic Development Board announced plans in 2003 to use proven gas reserves to establish downstream industrial projects. A 500-megawatt (MW) power plant is to be built in the Sungai Liang region to power an aluminum smelting plant. A second major project in the planning stage is a giant container hub at the Muara Port facilities. Both projects depend on foreign direct investors.

The government regulates the immigration of foreign labor out of concern it might disrupt Brunei's society. Work permits for foreigners are issued only for short periods and must be continually renewed. Despite these restrictions, foreigners make up a significant portion of the work force. The government reported a total work force of 158,000 in 2002, with an official unemployment rate of 4.6%.

Oil and natural gas account for almost all exports. Since only a few products other than petroleum are produced locally, a wide variety of items must be imported. Brunei statistics show Singapore as the largest point of origin of imports, accounting for 28.5% in 1999. However, this figure includes some transshipment, since most of Brunei's imports transit Singapore. Japan and Malaysia were the second-largest suppliers. As in many other countries, Japanese products dominate local markets for motor vehicles, construction equipment, electronic goods, and household appliances. The United States was the third-largest supplier of imports to Brunei in 1998.

Brunei's substantial foreign reserves are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance. BIA's guiding principle is to increase the real value of Brunei's foreign reserves while pursuing a diverse investment strategy, with holdings in the United States, Japan, Western Europe, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The Brunei Government encourages more foreign investment. New enterprises that meet certain criteria can receive pioneer status, exempting profits from income tax for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of capital invested. The normal corporate income tax rate is 30%. There is no personal income tax or capital gains tax.

One of the government's priorities is to encourage the development of Brunei Malays as leaders of industry and commerce. There are no specific restrictions of foreign equity ownership, but local participation, both shared capital and management, is encouraged. Such participation helps when tendering for contracts with the government or Brunei Shell Petroleum.

Companies in Brunei must either be incorporated locally or registered as a branch of a foreign company and must be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Public companies must have a minimum of seven shareholders. Private companies must have a minimum of two but not more than 50 shareholders. At least half of the directors in a company must be residents of Brunei.

The government owns a cattle farm in Australia through which the country's beef supplies are processed. At 2,262 square miles, this ranch is larger than Brunei itself. Eggs and chickens are largely produced locally, but most of Brunei's other food needs must be imported. Agriculture and fisheries are among the industrial sectors that the government has selected for highest priority in its efforts to diversify the economy.

Recently the government has announced plans for Brunei to become an international offshore financial center as well as a center for Islamic banking. Brunei is keen on the development of small and medium enterprises and also is investigating the possibility of establishing a "cyber park" to develop an information technology industry. Brunei also fostered tourism through its "Visit Brunei 2001" campaign, which has been sustained into the current year, which has shown a slight increase in tourist arrival.


DEFENSE

The Sultan is both Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (RBAF). All infantry, navy, and air combat units are made up of volunteers. There are two infantry brigades, equipped with armored reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers and supported by Rapier air defense missiles and a flotilla of coastal patrol vessels armed with surface-to-surface missiles.

Brunei has a defense agreement with the United Kingdom, under which a British Armed Forces Ghurka battalion (1,500 men) is permanently stationed in Seria, near the center of Brunei's oil industry. The RBAF has joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the United Kingdom and many other countries, including the United States. The U.S. and Brunei signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation in November 1994. The two countries conduct an annual military exercise called CARAT.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Brunei joined ASEAN on January 7, 1984—one week after resuming full independence—and gives its ASEAN membership the highest priority in its foreign relations. Brunei joined the UN in September 1984. It also is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Brunei hosted the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November 2000.


U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS

Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the 1800s. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei. The two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867.

The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darussalam's full independence from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in March 1984. Brunei's armed forces engage in joint exercises, training programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. A memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (E) Address: Teck Guan Plaza, Jln Sultan; APO/FPO: PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP 96507; Phone: (673) (2) 229-670 X 119/150; Fax: (673)(2) 225-293; Work week: 7:45am-4:30pm; Website: usembassy.state.gov/brunei

AMB:Gene Christy
DCM:Jeff Hawkins
CON:Christa Dupuis
MGT:Christa Dupuis
DAO:Col. John Bordwell (Singapore)
EEO:Judy Clark
FMO:Robert Wert (Singapore)
GSO:Harry Clark
IMO:Harry L. Clark
INS:(Singapore)
IRS:(Singapore)
ISSO:Harry L. Clark
RSO:Judy Clark
Last Updated: 12/12/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 6, 2004

Country Description: Brunei is a small Islamic Sultanate on the northwest coast of the Island of Borneo. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is the only major city. Tourist facilities are good and generally available. For more information concerning Brunei, please see the Government of Brunei web site at http://www.brunei.gov.bn.

Entry/Exit Requirements: U.S. passport-holders visiting Brunei for business or pleasure may obtain visas upon arrival for up to 90 days at no charge. There is an airport departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers may consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Brunei, 3520 International Court, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; tel. (202) 342-0159 (www.bruneiembassy.org)

Effective June 12, 2004, four months from the date of entry into force to the amendment, Immigration offenders will be punishable by caning. Workers who overstay their visas can face jail sentences and three strokes of the cane. Those associated with overstayers, such as contractors or employers, are subject to the same penalties if found guilty.

Americans in Brunei are subject to the laws of the country and may be arrested for violation of the new immigration regulations, or any other law. In such cases, the Embassy will provide consular services to American citizens arrested in Brunei, in accordance with international law and U.S. regulations. However, the Embassy may not intervene in local judicial matters. Americans should be aware that the new immigration law is more stringent and less flexible than the previous one, with harsher penalties.

The Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens on contract in Brunei be fully aware of their immigration status and of crucial dates regarding contract extensions and renewals, and have their employment documents in order. It would be wise to apply the same approach to any personal and domestic staff they may have hired, to ensure that they, too, do not run afoul of Brunei immigration regulations.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security Information: Following the October 2002 and August 2003 terrorist bombings in Indonesia, the Department of State continues to be concerned that terrorist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), that have transnational capability to carry out terrorist attacks, may do so in various Southeast Asian nations, including Brunei. JI is known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia and to have connections with Al-Qaeda, other regional terrorist groups and previous regional terrorist attacks. As security is increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists will seek softer targets. These may include, but are not limited to, facilities where Americans and other Westerners are known to live, congregate, shop, or visit, including, but not limited to, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events. Americans in Brunei should continue to be vigilant with regard to their personal security, maintain a low profile, vary times and routes during their daily routines, and report any suspicious activity to the local police or to the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-todate information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Though there is some crime, violent crime is rare. Burglaries and theft are on the rise. Americans are reminded to be prudent in their own personal security practices.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site, http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: There is adequate care for basic medical conditions in Brunei; however, due to unpredictable shortages of materials and uncertain support staff, elective surgeries or complicated care is best obtained in Singapore or elsewhere.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Brunei is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside assistance: Good

For additional information about road travel in Brunei, see the Department of State, Bureau of Administration's Post Report on Brunei at http://foia.state.gov/MMS/postrpt/pr_view_all.asp?CntryID=96.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Brunei's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1—in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Brunei's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation (DOT) at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's web site, www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Customs Regulations: Brunei customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency restrictions, ivory and alcohol. For non-Muslims, limited amounts of alcohol for personal consumption are permitted. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Brunei in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at www.ustr.gov/reports/2003/special301.htm.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Brunei's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Brunei are severe t, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Brunei has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotics offenses. Under the current law, possession of heroin, ecstasy and morphine derivatives of more than 15 grams, Cocaine of more than 30 grams, Cannabis of more than 500 grams, Syabu or methamphetamine of more than 50 grams, or Opium of more than 1.2 kg. carries the death penalty. Possession of lesser amounts can result in a minimum twenty-year jail term and caning.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Brunei are encouraged to register at the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Brunei and obtain updated information on travel and security within Brunei. The U.S. Embassy is located on the 3rd floor, Teck Guan Plaza, Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan BS 8811, Brunei Darussalam. Mail sent from the United States can be addressed to the Embassy's FPO address: American Embassy, PSC 470 (BSB), FPO AP, 96507. The telephone number is (673)(2) 229-670, fax number (673)(2) 225-293 and e-mail address [email protected] The Consular section's fax number is (673) (2) 23-5254 and their e-mail address is: [email protected] The Embassy's after-hours number for emergency calls is (673) (8) 730-691.

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Brunei

Brunei

Negara Brunei Darussalam (or Brunei) is a small country of 5,765 square kilometers (2,226 square miles), with a population of 358,098. About two-thirds of this population is ethnic Malay. Its capital is Bandar Seri Begawan, and it is located in Southeast Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia. Brunei contains dense forests and mangrove swamps. Its climate is tropical.

The same family has ruled Brunei for six centuries. From 1888 until 1950 Brunei was a British protectorate . In 1950 Omar Ali Saifuddin III (1914–1986), acting as the nominal authority under British rule, was inaugurated as sultan. In 1959 he promulgated the country's first written constitution. According to its provisions, elections for a legislative council would take place in 1962. Directly following the election, which the opposition won by a landslide, the sultan annulled the election results, suspended some of the constitution's provisions, declared a state of emergency, and ruled by decree. In 1963 Brunei was the only Malay state not to join the Malaysian Federation, and it remained a British dependency until gaining its independence in 1984. In 1967 Hassanal Bolkiah (b. 1946) became sultan following his father's abdication. In the early twenty-first century, he continued to rule Brunei by decree, naming others to major ministerial posts. In 1990 he became the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic faith, introducing the concept of a Malay Muslim monarchy. His eldest son, Prince al-Muhtadee Billah (b. 1974), became heir apparent in 1998.

Officially, Brunei is an Islamic constitutional sultanate , but the constitution has been suspended since 1962. Although Bolkiah announced in 2004 that he would reinstate the Legislative Council, and that its members would debate amendments to the Constitution, this had not yet occurred by June 2005.

The title of sultan is hereditary, and he enjoys ultimate power. The constitution names him as chief of state and head of the government. He appoints and presides over the Council of Ministers that holds executive authority in the country. A unicameral Legislative Council (Majlis Masyuarat Megeri), which serves only in a consultative capacity, constitutes the legislative branch. According to the constitution, ten of the twenty-one seats of the council are directly elected by the people and the rest are appointed by the sultan. In a 1970 decree, however, the sultan changed the council to an appointive body by decree. The constitution does not provide for an independent judiciary. The legal system is based on both civil law (based on English common law) and the Shari'a (Islamic law).

Brunei's extensive petroleum and natural gas fields provide the nation with one of the highest per capita gross domestic products (GDPs) in the developing world—over U.S.$14,000. With a corresponding high standard of living, the people of Brunei enjoy high government subsidies and do not pay taxes. Even though financial fortunes declined in the 1990s due to the Asian financial crisis and the fall of oil prices, as of 2004 the people still enjoyed a high average annual income, parity in purchasing power, and an appreciable growth rate.

Although the constitution provides for limited citizen participation in the political system, such participation is nonexistent under the continuing state of emergency and rule-by-decree. There have been no reports of arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life, no politically motivated disappearances, and no torture. Arbitrary arrest, detention, and exile have occasionally taken place, however. The government limits freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Political parties are not allowed and restrictions are placed on the right to assemble. The government further restricts the practice of non-Islamic religions and discriminates against women.

See also: Shari'a.

bibliography

"Brunei." In CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bx.html>.

Government of Brunei Darussalam Homepage. <http://www.brunei.gov.bn>.

Hussainmiya, B.A. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III and Britain: The Making of Brunei Darussalam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Leake, David. Brunei: The Modern Southeast-Asian Islamic Sultanate. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989.

Saunders, Graham. A History of Brunei, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2002.

U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2003. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27764.htm>.

Amal I. Khoury

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