Saturday, November 19

PROFIL NEGARA: BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Brunei Darussalam, Islamic sultanate located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, in eastern Asia, bounded on the north by the South China Sea, and on all other sides by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, which also divides the country into two parts. The total area is 5,765 sq km (2,226 sq mi).

The terrain of Brunei consists of a narrow coastal plain and a hilly interior. There are extensive swamps, especially in the west and northeast. Most streams flow north to the coast, including the Belait River, the longest in the country. Brunei has a humid, tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of about 27°C (about 80°F). The annual rainfall is heavy and is concentrated in the monsoon season of November to March, but there is no dry season.

Dense tropical rain forests cover much of the interior, occupying 84 percent of the country’s total area. Brunei is rich in wildlife, including monkeys and diverse birds and reptiles. Petroleum and natural gas are the primary mineral resources.

About two-thirds of the population of Brunei is Malay. Minorities include Chinese, Indians, and various indigenous peoples, such as Dayaks and Belaits. The official language is Malay, but English is also used for official purposes. Islam is the state religion, and the majority of the people are Muslims. At the 2004 census, the population of Brunei was 357,000, yielding an overall population density of 69 persons per sq km (179 per sq mi). The capital and chief town is Bandar Seri Begawan. The population growth is 2.8% per annum.

GOVERNMENT

Brunei is governed under a constitution promulgated in 1959, as amended.
Under the constitution, executive authority is held by the Council of Ministers, which is presided over by the sultan of Brunei, and by the chief minister (mentri besar), who is responsible to the sultan. The Constitution confers supreme executive authority on the Sultan, who is assisted and advised by 5 Constitutional Councils viz Religious Council, Privy Council, Council of Cabinet Ministers, Council of Succession and the Legislative Council.

Since 1962, however, the sultan has ruled by decree. Brunei is a member of the United Nations (UN) and the Commonwealth of Nations.

ECONOMY

The economy of Brunei is overwhelmingly dependent on the production of petroleum and natural gas. Oil fields were first discovered at Seria in 1929, but production has now expanded to offshore fields. Crude-oil output in 2001 was 79 million barrels. Local industries include cloth weaving and metalwork. Exploitation of the country’s forest reserves is increasing. The country has 1,150 km (715 mi) of roads, mostly along the coast. Rivers form the principal network of transportation into the interior. The chief ports are Bandar Seri Begawan, Kuala Belait, and Muara. Royal Brunei Airlines, the state-owned carrier, provides service to a number of international destinations.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of $15,060 per capita in 1998 was among the world’s highest. Brunei’s unit of currency is the Brunei dollar (1.67 Brunei Dollars equal U.S.$1; as of 2 September 2005)

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