Looking for where is Brunei Located? Here are amazing Brunei facts you probably don’t know. The flag of Brunei is one of the most misleading flags in the world because when looking at it from a distance you could swear it has an anchor on it but if you look closer it doesn’t. The flag of Brunei has a yellow field with two diagonal black and white stripes. The white stripe is a little thicker than the black and then you have the national crest in the center. The yellow color represents the Sultan of Brunei which traditionally means royalty in many Southeast Asian regions, the white and black refers to the Chief Ministers the Pengiran Bedahara or the first minister and the Pengiran Pemancha the second minister who deals with foreign affairs. In the middle is a parasol representing royalty, on the sides are two hands signifying benevolence of the government, underneath is a crescent with the national motto written in Arabic meaning “Render Service to God’s Guidance” and below it is another banner with the inscription “Brunei Darussalam” which means Brunei the abode of peace.
Brunei is located on the island of Borneo the only island in the world owned and inhabited by three separate independently sovereign nations the other two being Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei sits on the top of the island of Borneo on the mid north shore completely surrounded by Malaysia Sarawak State right under the South China Sea below the Spratly Islands.
Brunei is interesting in that if you look at the map it’s actually split into two non-contiguous segments, the larger and more heavily populated western side made up of three districts Belait, Tutong and Brunei Muara where over 95 percent of the population lives and the eastern part known as the Temburong districts there are only about ten thousand of the people lives. The reason why Brunei is split up into two parts is because back in 1898 the Temburong district was ceded to Sarawak which is now part of Malaysia by the Rajah of Sarawak who was actually a white British guy.
The only way you can get over from the western side of Brunei to the Temburong district in the East is to either take a boat across the bay and go through the Temburong River or drive on the Jalan Kuala Laurah Road into Malaysia until you reach the border along the Kibi River. When you reach Limbang, you can either park your car and take a boat ride across the river but if you want to keep driving you have to go about five miles or eight kilometers further south on the AH 1:50 Highway and take the bridge that enters into the towns of Puni and Bangar Brunei. The capital of Brunei is Bandar Seri Begawan located in the western segment of the Brunei Muara district on the Brunei River that dumps into the Brunei Bay. As the largest city as well as the cultural and economic hub of all Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan is a metropolitan region that hosts nearly half of the entire population of Brunei.
In Bandar Seri Begawan you can see an array of mosques including the number one country defining landmark the Sultan Omar Ali Saifudden mosque built on an artificial lagoon with a dome that is plated with pure gold and a bridge that connects to the Sultan Bolkiah Mahligali Barge a replica of the original barge owned by the former sultan adorned with intricately crafted designs and details. Across from the mosque you reach the Kampong Ayer also known as the Venice of the southeast. The Kampong Ayer is the world’s largest water village and a town with over 30,000 people who all live and work in stilt structures on the Brunei river. Everything from houses, restaurants, hospitals and schools can be found here all intertwined with a refined network of bridges, walkways and docks that connect the buildings as well as water taxis that zip around transporting the locals.
The other districts are intriguing in that they each have their own designated function. Tutong is kind of known as being the middleman transporting district as everything passes through here and Belait is known for being the center hub for the oil and gas district. As you can probably guess oil makes up a huge factor in the economic development of Brunei.
Brunei is actually jam-packed with a lot of physical contrast. Like I mentioned before, Brunei is located on the powerfully botanically rich island of Borneo. Most of the parts of the country that are close to the coast are in a low-lying rain forests ecoregion and further inland you reach the mountains and rain forests with more mountains and hills in the Temburong district in the east. Brunei has an equatorial tropical climate which means that typically all year round you’re going to get hot humid weather however, generally there are two seasons dry and wet with the wettest months being between October and December.
On the coast you can find some amazing beaches but when you get to Jerudong district, you find these strange-looking mushroom-shaped beaches and large egg-shaped Harbor deliberately constructed to combat the highly erosive beaches from the strong tides that come in regularly. Despite the abundance of untouched wilderness, less than 2% of land is arable and used for agriculture. Forest reserves and national parks make up about half of the entire country’s area. The production of timber as an internal resource actually accounts for more revenue than agriculture in the country which is weird because Brunei actually has amazing fertile soil. This means that the majority of food consumed in Brunei are imported into Brunei from various neighboring nations like Japan, South Korea and China.
Brunei’s government owns a cattle ranch in Australia of a size larger than the entire country which supplies most of the country’s beef products. So why isn’t Brunei interested in cultivating all that potential harvest land that they have? Well, you guess is as good as mine. Brunei has Oil. Over 95% of Brunei’s economy is dependent off of their oil and liquefied hydrocarbon production. The Royal Dutch Shell company operates the country’s only and very profitable oil refinery. This is the reason why many Dutch and European expats typically can be found working in Brunei especially in the coast by Sereia in the Belait District where oil was discovered in 1929.
Brunei has a lot of offshore oil reserves that the majority of people depend on their economic output. Brunei is like the Monaco of Southeast Asia however, the country practice Sharia law. Brunei has about four hundred and seventeen thousand people and ethnically about 66 percent of the people in Brunei identify as Malay, about 11% are Chinese, 4% indigenous, 2% Indian and the remaining 17% comes from a wide range of other nationalities like Filipinos, Arabs and even whites most of whom are expats working for the oil industry. Language wise, Brunei Malay is the official language however, most people speak English as a second language even though many signs are posted in Malay and Arabic.
Furthermore, a large portion of the country speaks Mandarin as a second language even though English is more widely taught. This all had to do with Brunei being a British protectorate and the linguistic impact left a mark. Brunei is considered one of the richest countries per capita in the world with the average income surpassing fifty thousand dollars. Culture wise Brunei has its distinctions as you will notice a lot of women wearing the Todong or the traditional head covering and a lot of men wearing the Songkok or the Malay cap.
In 2014, Brunei became the first country in Southeast Asia to introduce a Sharia law Penal Code on a nationalistic level. This institution is still being carried out in legislative phrases but essentially it has caused a lot of controversy. The ruling was instituted by the Sultan of Brunei Hassan Al Bolkiah.
The Sultan of Brunei Al Hassan Bolkiah is said to have a net worth of $20Billion as reported by the Forbes and here’s a small list of things owned by the Sultan. A palace with over 1700 rooms, 250 bathrooms ,5 swimming Pools, a banquet hall that holds over 5,000 people, a private zoo, over 9,000 cars in a collection with several vintage and custom-made cars and even built a stadium on his 50th birthday and paid Michael Jackson 17 million dollars to perform 3 concerts there and let’s not even mention all fancy yachts that’s to say that the Sultan lives in a very lavish and opulent lifestyle.
People have complained that the Sultan’s controversial over-the-top escapades and personal actions have made he himself a violator of the very Sharia law that he has instituted. This is also concerned many of the non-Muslim residents of Brunei as it’s kind of unclear how this new law will affect them. Nonetheless despite the shaky political disposition, people in the country are generally happy with their high standard of living and welfare and generally enjoy the overall trajectory that the country is headed in.
Brunei relations have a lot to do with history and money. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Brunei has bilateral agreements with generally all their immediate neighbor nations and enjoys good trade and business transactions with each of them to some extent. You would think Malaysia would be the best friend of Brunei as they are pretty close and both speak relatively the same language with close deep cultural resonation however some Bruneians would actually consider Singapore and the Philippines their best friend. Brunei and the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding that sought to strengthen the bilateral cooperation of the two countries in the fields of agriculture and farm related trade and investments. Basically, the Philippines gives them a lot of food. For Singapore they agreed to allow Singapore to join them and train its Armed Forces with Brunei.
Brunei and Singapore have a currency exchange agreement in that both currencies in both countries can be used interchangeably in both nations. The Brunei dollar and the Singapore dollar are maintained at par. In conclusion, it’s interesting to see where Brunei will head with the juxtaposition of high revenue output and disputably strict legislation but either way. Brunei is definitely one small place with one huge story.