National Identity / Official Name: Negara Brunei Darussalam (The Country of Brunei, Abode of Peace).
Flag And Crest: The Brunei flag has four colours – a yellow backdrop, with two wide strips of white and black cutting diagonally across and the state crest in red right in the middle.
The national flag of Brunei was first used in 1906 when Brunei signed an agreement with Britain. The colours on the flag represented the signatories to the agreement – yellow for the Sultan, white for the Pengiran Bendahara and black for Pengiran Pemancha.
The National Crest, added to the centre of the flag in 1959, consists of;
• the Bendera (flag).
• the Payung Ubor-Ubor (royal umbrella).
• the Sayap (wing) which signifies justice, tranquility, prosperity and peace.
• the Tangan (hand) which represents the government’s pledge to promote welfare, peace and prosperity.
• the Bulan (crescent) which symbolises Islam, the national religion of Brunei Darussalam.
The Arabic characters inscribed on the crescent reads “Always in service with God’s guidance” while the words on the scroll mean “Brunei, the abode of peace”.
Capital City: Bandar Seri Begawan.
Geographic Location: Brunei Darussalam is situated in the south-eastern region of Asia, on the Island of Borneo, between longitudes 114’04” and 114’23” East and latitudes 4’00” and 5’05” North.
Brunei, although occupying less than 1% of Borneo’s land area, is the only sovereign country on the island, which it shares with the Indonesian provinces of West, East, South and Central Kalimantan and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Climate: Located close to the equator, Brunei Darussalam enjoys moderate equatorial climate throughout the year with temperatures ranging from 23oC to 32oC.
Rainfall occurs heaviest in September to January and May to July with March and April being the warmest months. Annual rainfall averages 320cm. Humidity is high throughout the year at an estimate of 79 percent.
Land Area: 5,675 sq. km (with a coastline of about 161 km along the South China Sea).
Population: 390,000 (2007 Key Indicator).
Density: 68 persons/sq. km.
Population By Racial Group: Malays: 259,600 / Chinese: 43,100 / Others: 87,300
National Language: With the Malays forming the biggest ethnic group in Brunei Darussalam, Malay or Bahasa Melayu is the national and official language of the country; yet at the same time, English is widely spoken and understood particularly in the business community.
Various indigenous groups such as the Dusun, Murut and Iban speak in their respective dialects while the Chinese speak Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese while being equally conversant in Malay.
Official Religions: The official religion is Islam, with the majority of the population being Muslim. Other religious beliefs such as Christianity and Buddhism are practiced freely by other ethnic group.
National Philosophy: Since gaining independence from the British in 1984, Brunei has adopted the national philosophy of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (Melayu Islam Beraja), a system that encompasses strong Malay cultural influences, stressing the importance of Islam in daily life and governance, and respect for the monarchy as represented by His Majesty The Sultan.
It is a philosophy of tolerance, which allows other cultures to follow individual traditions and to practice other religions.
Administrative Divisions: 4 Districts: Brunei-Muara (housing the capital city), Tutong, Belait, and Temburong.
Head Of State: His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
His Majesty is the 29th ruler of his line, which began with Sultan Muhammad in 1405.
System Of Government: Independent sovereign constitutional Sultanate, with His Majesty The Sultan as the supreme executive authority.
His Majesty is advised by an appointed Council of Cabinet Ministers, Religious Council, Privy Council, a Council of Succession and a Legislative Council.
Economy: With a total GDP of around US$6.5 billion and a per capita GDP of around US$18.3 thousand (2002), Brunei’s resource-rich (oil & natural gas) economy affords its population high living standards, resulting in positive social indicators such as high literacy rates, longer life expectancy, and low unemployment and crime rates.
The government provides for all medical services and subsidizes rice and housing.
Government, construction, services, retail and some light manufacturing are the other major sectors in Brunei’s economy.
The government is currently working towards economic diversification — in which tourism plays an important role — as well as encouraging foreign investment and developing education and human resources.
These measures are designed to prepare the nation for the challenges of the future when the oil and gas reserves will have been depleted and new sources of income will be needed to maintain the current high standards of living enjoyed by Bruneians.
Tourism Infrastructure: With over 2,500 rooms spread among 30 establishments ranging from guesthouses to the super luxurious “7-star” Empire Hotel and Country Club, and with a dozen or so active inbound tour operators, Brunei has a well-established, yet underutilized tourism infrastructure attracting an increasing number of regional and international visitors.
Tourism Arrivals: Brunei recorded approximately 1 million foreign visitors in 2003, the vast majority arriving from Malaysia through land entry points.
Based on estimates derived from hotel occupancy rates and on market intelligence gathered from inbound operators, Brunei Tourism estimates the number of bona fide leisure and business tourists to be around 100,000 in 2003, with a 3-day average length of stay.
Most of these tourists originated from the short- and medium-haul markets, though a significant portion originated from long-haul markets, mainly UK and Germany. Brunei Tourism’s objective is to increase international tourist arrivals by a minimum average rate of 7% yearly, as well as to increase average length of stay and expenditure.
International Transport Linkages: Brunei enjoys a convenient location at the heart of Southeast Asia and is well-connected to destinations worldwide.
Air: Royal Brunei Airlines, the nation’s flagship carrier, flies non-stop or direct to most major Asia-Pacific destinations and the Middle East, as well as to Europe via London and Frankfurt. Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Dragonair and Philippines Airlines serve Bandar Seri Begawan and offer one-stop connections to the rest of the world through their hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Manila.
Sea: Ferries link Brunei with the Malaysian island of Labuan off the coast of Sabah, and to the Malaysian towns of Limbang and Lawas in Sarawak.
Road: An extensive overland road network also connects Brunei to Sarawak and Sabah, while the Indonesian province of Kalimantan can be reached by road, air or boat via Sarawak or Sabah.
Health, Safety And Security: Brunei is free from malaria and other tropical diseases, is outside the typhoon belt, has no volcanoes, and is not prone to earthquakes or other major natural disasters.
The country also enjoys government stability and economic prosperity, resulting in a very low crime rate.