Negara Brunei Darussalam, also known as the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace and commonly referred to as Brunei is the epitome of South East Asian culture and heritage. It is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo and is home to just over 400,000 citizens. There are always 2 things that come to mind whenever I think about Brunei; the Sultanate and Islam, both synonymous and symbolic of Brunei. Brunei is blessed with rich natural resources, making it one of the richest countries in the world. It would be wrong to underestimate Brunei because there is simply far more to Brunei than meets the eye.
Everyone, say salam sejahtera to Brunei Darussalam !
Full name : Negara Brunei Darussalam
Capital : Bandar Seri Begawan
Official language : Malay ( Bahasa Melayu )
Area : 5,765 square kilometres
Population : 401,890 ( 2011 estimate )
Status : Developed country
Points of Interest : There are 2 points of interest in this article. Without further a due, lets begin.
Sultanate of Brunei
The Sultanate of Brunei is one of the longest reigning monarchies in South East Asia. It has been around since the 14th century. The Sultan of Brunei, officially Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan dan Yang Di- Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam is the head of state and also the head of government of Brunei. He has ultimate and absolute governing authority over the entire country, hence the Sultanate of Brunei is classified as an absolute monarchy. The current Sultan of Brunei is Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah ( pictured above ). He is the 29th Sultan of Brunei and also one of the longest serving Sultans in Bruneian history, at almost 44 years. Today, the Sultanate of Brunei is among the few remaining sultanates from the Golden Era of South East Asian civilization.
The Sultanate of Brunei was officially formed in 1363 when Sultan Muhammad Shah converted to Islam. He was then titled the first Sultan of Brunei and had full governing authority over his land and people. Prior to the sultanate, the rulers of Brunei before the 14th century were called Rajahs and were heavily influenced by Hindu culture. Brunei was a vassal state of the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires of Sumatra and Java respectively from the 7th ’till 14th centuries. The Srivijaya and Majapahit empires were influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism from India. They in turn indirectly transmitted Hindu culture to Brunei. Chinese influence from China were also present in the form of trade.
During the 12th century, the Hindu influenced Chola dynasty of South India attacked the Srivijayan Empire at Kedah, on the Malay Peninsula. The Chola dynasty eventually conquered the whole of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, wiping out the Srivijayan Empire. It was during this time that the Rajahs of the Malay Archipelago turned their backs on the Hindu faith and converted to Islam. Islam reached Brunei in the form of Muslim traders from the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and other Islamic regions. Thus, the Rajahs of Brunei were influenced by Islamic culture and the Sultanate of Brunei was formed.
After the formation of the Sultanate of Brunei, the Bruneian Empire began to expand. The Golden Era of the Sultanate of Brunei was during the peak of the Bruneian Empire during the 14th- 16th centuries. Under the rule of Sultan Bolkiah ( 1473 – 1521 ), not to be confused with current Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultanate had taken control over most of Borneo and parts of southern Philippines. In the early 1500s, the Sultanate of Malacca fell to Portuguese colonialists, making the Sultanate of Brunei one of the more superior sultanates in the Malay Archipelago in the aftermath. However, the Sultanate of Brunei was far from safe from the European colonialists of the era. In 1578, the Castille War broke out between Brunei and Spain. Brunei eventually won the war, but the damage to the Sultanate had been done and the war witnessed the beginning of the end of the Bruneian Empire.
In 1838, Indian- born British adventurer James Brooke arrived in Kuching, a city under the Bruneian Empire. During his visit, he discovered of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II’s troubles. He offered to help the Sultan in quelling an uprising in Sarawak. The Sultan accepted and as a reward, James was named Governor and later, became the first ‘ White Rajah ‘ of Sarawak. Over time, James and his successors brought most of Sarawak under their control, reducing the Bruneian Empire’s claim on this valuable land. On the other side of Borneo, the British North Borneo Chartered Company had seized much of Sabah from the Bruneian Empire. The land area of today’s Brunei is all that’s left of the once great Bruneian Empire.
The 29th Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah is the current upholder of the Sultanate of Brunei. He is the 2nd richest king in the world, after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and is estimated to have USD$20 billion in wealth. He became Sultan at the young age of 21 in 1967 and has reigned for an astounding 44 years since. He lives in the Istana Nurul Iman, a palace which also serves as the seat of government of Brunei. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is also famous for his mouth- watering collection of exotic cars. He has several mega- garages packed to the brim with only the best cars from all over the world – there are literally thousands of them! In addition to that, he also has his very own Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet which has been converted into a mobile home, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He has had 3 wives and 12 children in total. As Sultan and Prime Minister, he is undoubtedly the most respected and powerful figure in Brunei.
I find the Sultanate of Brunei interesting because it is rich in history. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is also one of my most favourite kings. Few monarchies in the world can challenge the might of the Sultanate of Brunei today.
As the name suggests, Brunei Darussalam is indeed an abode of peace. Most Bruneians live a relatively tranquil and peaceful lifestyle, among others. Brunei is a conservative state. In other words, it is a country which preserves tradition and other things as they are, avoiding excessive change. Very few people outside of Brunei are truly familiar with this unique country, myself included. If you really want to get to know Brunei, you must see it with your own eyes.
Brunei is one of the safest countries to live in the world. Crime rates are among the lowest in the region thanks to a developed society and strong security forces such as the Neighbourhood Crime Watch of Brunei, at several thousand men strong. All Bruneians get free medical treatment and education, courtesy of the Sultan. This contributes to the already very high Human Development Index ( HDI ) of Brunei, which is a form of measuring the status of a country or territory based on factors such as life expectancy and education. There is also no tax whatsoever in Brunei since the government is already incredibly rich, thanks to Brunei’s natural resources, which make up around 90% of exports. The Bruneian citizens also enjoy some of the highest per capita incomes in the world. The International Monetary Fund ranked Brunei as the 5th richest country in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita. At Intl.$ 48,892, Brunei is only a mere Intl.$ 3,947 behind Singapore, a massive Intl.$ 34,222 ahead of neighbouring Malaysia and an enormous Intl.$ 44,498 ahead of Indonesia. Simply put, most Bruneians are incredibly wealthy.
Brunei is also full of natural beauty. From the alluring beaches to the untouched jungles, Brunei is gifted with some of the best natural features on the planet. Thanks to it’s strategic position near the equator, Brunei enjoys warm tropical summers at an annual average of about 26 °C. The northern tip of Brunei is home to the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, abbreviated BSB. An estimated 140,000 Bruneians live here. Bandar Seri Begawan is a small, peaceful city devoid of excessive developments. It keeps it’s citizens close to nature by retaining most of the natural features where possible. This explains why greenery is widespread throughout the city and skyscrapers are few and far between.
In my opinion, Brunei is one of the best countries to live in if you seek peace. You will find most Bruneians are friendly and caring about one another. You can thank good education standards and the Islamic teachings for the peaceful society and excellent culture of Brunei. However, you will not find much in the name of Western entertainment here. Brunei is all about Asian hospitality.
We have reached our conclusion. Brunei is a unique country which sets the standards for others to follow. It truly lives up to it’s name as an abode of peace. The Sultanate of Brunei is the very symbol of Brunei’s prosperity and wealth. The very lifestyle of the average Bruneian citizen is desired by many, as it is ideally suited for those seeking peace of mind and tranquillity. It is no wonder why many flock to Brunei, year after year. It is a truly delightful country for the select few. Thank you for reading this factual article and have a wonderful day. – Aero
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I apologize for not being able to put up any new articles in the past few weeks. I had mid- year examinations for most of May. Furthermore, my spare time is running short now as I have other matters to attend to such as extra classes and revision as my O Levels edge closer and closer with each passing day. I also apologize for deviating from the usual format with my previous article. It was a side- project which I had intended to submit to my school’s magazine. Things didnt go as planned though, but I’m not disappointed since the feedback and response I have received from that article far exceeded my expectations. Finally, I want to apologize again for not doing the United Arab Emirates as it had received the most votes in the previous poll. My focus had shifted away from the UAE by the time my examinations were over. I will try my best to bring out more interesting articles when possible. Thank you for understanding and I hope you enjoyed the article ! :]