Where the Heck is Brunei?

where is brunei

What Do You Know About Brunei?

I was chatting with a new friend on social media and he said he was from Brunei. Now I’ve heard the word “Brunei” but I had no idea where it was or anything about it.

I figured maybe you don’t, either.

Today we’ll learn a bit about Brunei.

Where is Brunei?

Well, Brunei is not part of the Middle East (as I had assumed). It’s actually a Southeast Asian country located on the island of Borneo.

It’s quite small (2,226 square miles), and it shares a 237-mile border with Malaysia. It also has 100 miles of coastline on the South China Sea.

You can locate it better with this screenshot from Google maps:

where is brunei

It’s a rather new country (as a sovereign state). It gained its independence from the U.K. in 1984 and has around 408,786 Bruneians. However, it’s been around for a long time. It has been ruled by sultans for over 600 years.

Quick Tidbits about Brunei

Language

The official language there is Standard Malay, which can be written two ways. It can be written using the 26 Latin letters (like English), or it can be written with a modified Arabic script (this is called Jawi).  Jawi (like Arabic) is read from right to left.

This is what the Jawi alphabet looks like:

jawi alphabet

However, English is also widely used in Brunei. It’s the language of business. Starting in 4th grade, schools teach many subjects in English so that the students understand it well.

There are several other minority languages spoken in Brunei, too, such as Chinese, Arabic, as well as some Indian languages. Most Bruneians speak a dialect of Standard Malay known as Brunei Malay, or Melayu Brunei.

Religion

The majority of Bruneians are Sunni Muslim (67%), but there are other religions practiced there, too. 13% of Bruneians are Buddhists and 10% are Christian.  There are also small pockets of other indigenous religions.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the government, and even though most residents are Muslim, even Christian holidays like Christmas are formally recognized.

Alcohol is not sold in Brunei, but if you’re a foreigner, you’re allowed to bring alcohol into the country with you (up to 12 cans of beer or 2 bottles of alcohol, that is). All pornography is a definite no-no, though. That’ll get you in serious trouble.

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Crime

The crime rate in Brunei is very low, and violent crime is almost unheard of. However, there have been reports of petty thefts by tourists, so you still need to protect your belongings. All in all, though, Brunei is one of the safest countries in the world.

Weather

Ahhh….the weather. One of the most important features to consider when planning a trip abroad, don’t you think?

Brunei is tropical, and it usually has high humidity. The average humidity year-round is about 93%.

It’s hot all year round, and there are two monsoon seasons (from October – February and from May – June). Summer temps can hover around 100°F while other times of the year are around 75-80°F.

Why is Brunei Fascinating?

Now that you know a bit about Brunei, let’s discuss the fascinating facts about Brunei:

  • Brunei is a wealthy country. It’s the 3rd-leading exporter of oil in southeast Asia. They export a lot of natural gas, too.

  • The Sultan of Brunei is Hassanal Bolkiah, but his full name is Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulahibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

  • Sultan Bolkiah has a net worth of $20 billion which makes him the 2nd-richest leader of a country in the world (the number-one spot goes to the King of Thailand who has $30 billion). The sultan owns more than 600 Rolls Royce vehicles, 350 Ferraris, and his palace cost over $350 million. It is the world’s largest palace.

  • All Brunei citizens get free public healthcare and free education.

  • The full name of Brunei is Brunei Darussalam which means “abode of peace”. The official name, though is “Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace”.

  • The average annual income for Bruneians is $54,537 USD making them the 10th-highest income-earners in the world.

  • Homosexuals in Brunei are sentenced to death by stoning.

  • Israelis are not allowed to enter Brunei.

  • People in Brunei pay no taxes.

  • Along with Libya, it’s one of only two countries that have 0% public debt.

  • Brunei’s borders are pretty open compared to some other countries. Many visitors don’t need a visa to enter. For those that do, visas usually last for 3 months. You can also apply for a work permit to work there. Also, they allow people to apply for citizenship. To obtain citizenship, you’d have to study for and pass exams in the Malay language, customs and culture.

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Here’s some scenery from Brunei:

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.
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