Brunei (Brunei Darussalam)
|Flag of Brunei|
At the peak of the Bruneian Empire, Sultan Bolkiah (reigned 1485–1528) is claimed to have had control over most regions of Borneo, including modern-day Sarawak and Sabah, as well as the Sulu Archipelago off the northeast tip of Borneo, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. Claims also state that they had control over Seludong (or the Kingdom of Maynila, where the modern-day Philippine capital Manila now stands) but Southeast Asian scholars believe this refers to a settlement Mount Selurong in Indonesia. The maritime state of Brunei was visited by Spain's Magellan Expedition in 1521 and fought against Spain in the 1578 Castilian War.
During the 19th century, the Bruneian Empire began to decline. The Sultanate ceded Sarawak (Kuching) to James Brooke and installed him as the White Rajah, and it ceded Sabah to the British North Borneo Chartered Company. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate and was assigned a British resident as colonial manager in 1906. After the Japanese occupation during World War II, in 1959 a new constitution was written. In 1962, a small armed rebellion against the monarchy was ended with the help of the British.
Brunei has been led by the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967, and had gained its independence as a British protectorate on 1 January 1984. The country is an autocratic absolute monarchy. Economic growth during the 1990s and 2000s, with the GDP increasing 56% from 1999 to 2008, transformed Brunei into an industrialised country. It has developed wealth from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields. Brunei has the second-highest Human Development Index among the Southeast Asian nations, after Singapore. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brunei is ranked fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity. The IMF estimated in 2011 that Brunei was one of two countries (the other being Libya) with a public debt at 0% of the national GDP.
According to local historiography, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar, later to be Sultan Muhammad Shah, reigning around AD 1400. He moved from Garang in the Temburong District to the Brunei River estuary, discovering Brunei. According to legend, upon landing he exclaimed, Baru nah (loosely translated as "that's it!" or "there"), from which the name "Brunei" was derived. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei. Before the rise of the Bruneian Empire under the Muslim Bolkiah Dynasty, Brunei is believed to have been under Buddhist rulers.
It was renamed "Barunai" in the 14th century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word "" (वरुण), meaning "seafarers". The word "Borneo" is of the same origin. In the country's full name, Negara Brunei Darussalam, darussalam (دار السلام) means "abode of peace", while negara means "country" in Malay. A shortened version of the Malay official name, "Brunei Darussalam", has also entered common usage, particularly in official contexts, and is present in the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names geographical database, as well as the official ASEAN and Commonwealth listings.
The earliest recorded documentation by the West about Brunei is by an Italian known as Ludovico di Varthema. On his documentation back to 1550;
"We arrived at the island of Bornei (Brunei or Borneo), which is distant from the Maluch about 200 mi, and we found that it was somewhat larger than the aforesaid and much lower. The people are pagans and are men of goodwill. Their colour is whiter than that of the other sort ... in this island justice is well administered ..."
Currency / Language
Neighbourhood - Country
Map - Brunei (Brunei Darussalam)