Facts about Brunei

World Facts Index

BruneiThe Sultanate of Brunei's influence peaked between the 15th and 17th centuries when its control extended over coastal areas of northwest Borneo and the southern Philippines. Brunei subsequently entered a period of decline brought on by internal strife over royal succession, colonial expansion of European powers, and piracy. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate; independence was achieved in 1984. The same family has ruled Brunei for over six centuries. Brunei benefits from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, the source of one of the highest per capita GDPs in the developing world.

Geography of Brunei

Southeastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia
4 30 N, 114 40 E
total: 5,770 sq km
water: 500 sq km
land: 5,270 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries:
total: 381 km
border countries: Malaysia 381 km
161 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM or to median line
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical; hot, humid, rainy
flat coastal plain rises to mountains in east; hilly lowland in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Bukit Pagon 1,850 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, timber
Natural hazards:
typhoons, earthquakes, and severe flooding are rare
Environment - current issues:
seasonal smoke/haze resulting from forest fires in Indonesia
Geography - note:
close to vital sea lanes through South China Sea linking Indian and Pacific Oceans; two parts physically separated by Malaysia; almost an enclave of Malaysia

Population of Brunei

381,371 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.1% (male 54,411/female 52,134)
15-64 years: 68.8% (male 138,129/female 123,017)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 5,584/female 6,169)
Median age:
27.4 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
12.25 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.01 years
male: 72.57 years
female: 77.59 years
Total fertility rate:
2.28 children born/woman
noun: Bruneian(s)
adjective: Bruneian
Ethnic groups:
Malay 67%, Chinese 15%, indigenous 6%, other 12%
Muslim (official) 67%, Buddhist 13%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs and other 10%
Malay (official), English, Chinese
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 96.3%
female: 91.4%


Country name:
long form: Negara Brunei Darussalam
Government type:
constitutional sultanate
Bandar Seri Begawan
Administrative divisions:
4 districts (daerah-daerah, singular - daerah); Belait, Brunei and Muara, Temburong, Tutong
1 January 1984 (from UK)
National holiday:
National Day, 23 February (1984); note - 1 January 1984 was the date of independence from the UK, 23 February 1984 was the date of independence from British protection
29 September 1959 (some provisions suspended under a State of Emergency since December 1962, others since independence on 1 January 1984)
Legal system:
based on English common law; for Muslims, Islamic Shari'a law supersedes civil law in a number of areas
Executive branch:
chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir HASSANAL Bolkiah (since 5 October 1967)
cabinet: Council of Cabinet Ministers appointed and presided over by the monarch; deals with executive matters; note - there is also a Religious Council (members appointed by the monarch) that advises on religious matters, a Privy Council (members appointed by the monarch) that deals with constitutional matters, and the Council of Succession (members appointed by the monarch) that determines the succession to the throne if the need arises
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
Legislative branch:
Legislative Council met on 25 September 2004 for first time in 20 years with 21 members appointed by the Sultan; passed constitutional amendments calling for a 45-seat council with 15 elected members; Sultan dissolved council on 1 September 2005 and appointed a new council with 29 members as of 2 September 2005
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court - chief justice and judges are sworn in by monarch for three-year terms; Judicial Committee of Privy Council in London is final court of appeal for civil cases; Shariah courts deal with Islamic laws.


Brunei has a small well-to-do economy that encompasses a mixture of foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulation, welfare measures, and village tradition. Crude oil and natural gas production account for just over half of GDP and more than 90% of exports. Per capita GDP is among the highest in Asia, and substantial income from overseas investment supplements income from domestic production. The government provides for all medical services and free education through the university level and subsidizes rice and housing. Brunei's leaders are concerned that steadily increased integration in the world economy will undermine internal social cohesion. Plans for the future include upgrading the labor force, reducing unemployment, strengthening the banking and tourist sectors, and, in general, further widening the economic base beyond oil and gas.

$19.64 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 56.1%
services: 40.3%
Labor force:
note: includes foreign workers and military personnel; temporary residents make up about 40% of labor force
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 2.9%
industry: 61.1%
services: 36%
revenues: $3.765 billion
expenditures: $4.815 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0%
nuclear: 0%
petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction
rice, vegetables, fruits, chickens, water buffalo
crude oil, natural gas, refined products
Export partners:
Japan 41.8%, South Korea 15.2%, US 10.8%, Australia 10.3%, Indonesia 6.5%
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals
Import partners:
Singapore 32.6%, Malaysia 24.9%, Japan 6.9%, UK 6.9%, Thailand 4.5%
Bruneian dollar (BND)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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