Welcome to Brunei Darussalam
A sun washed jewel clenched between the South China Sea and North Borneo's rainforest, the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam exudes the colour and mystique of a nation whose sovereignty once stretched across the entire island of Borneo and parts of the Philippines.Indeed, the word "Borneo" is a adaptation of the name "Brunei", by which the entire island was once known. Sixth-century Chinese explorers and traders knew Brunei as "Puni" or "Poli" where Islam had taken deep root as early as 1371. References from 1521 described Brunei as a powerful maritime sultanate, the heart of a trading and tributary empire that dominated the South-East Asian region.
Just 443 km north of the equator, modern Brunei's 5,765-sq km land area is wedged between the Malaysian Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak. Rainfall and humidity are high, with temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Yet Brunei rests outside the tropical typhoon and earthquake belts.
Brunei is comprised of four districts - Temburong, Tutong, Belait and Brunei-Muara. The nation's riverfront capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is in the Brunei-Muara district.
Roughly two-thirds of the population is Malay, the rest are Chinese or members of indigenous tribes. Bahasa Melayu is the official language, although English is widely spoken and understood.
The country is ruled according to Islamic values and traditions by the present Monarch, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th ascendant of the world's oldest continuously reigning royal line. Brunei is a Malay Muslim Monarchy, with over 600 years of recorded history.
Brunei has emerged as an active and influential participant in international and regional core groups, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines - East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). Such involvements have raised awareness of Brunei as one of the world's most important developing economies.
A haven for eco-tourism, over half of Brunei is unspoiled rainforest, a large proportion of which is located in the Temburong district. Here fish hold station against the swift current of crystalline rivers. An occasional electric blue kingfisher may be soon streak low across the water. Among the vine-laced trees, unique flora and fauna flourish, from the parasitic pitcher plant to the distinctive hornbill.
In conjunction with the Brunei Museum and the Belalong Rainforest Field Studies Centre, many leading international research and environmental groups, including London's Natural History Museum, continue to find and document newly discovered species.
How to get here
Brunei is also accessible by road from Sarawak and Sabah. A drive from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak, takes approximately 13 hours while a drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, takes approximately 6 hours.