‘Negara Brunei Darussalam’. You probably haven’t heard of that name before. ‘Negara Brunei Darussalam’ is the official name of the country of Brunei. The name means ‘abode of peace. True to it’s name, Brunei is a peaceful country.
Brunei is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Its major religion is Islam. It is the only sovereign state entirely on the island of Borneo ; the rest is shared by Malaysia and Indonesia. Though, a small country, Brunei is a wealthy country. Much of its economy is heavily based on crude oil exports. In fact, Brunei is the 5th richest nation in the world. Here are 20 things you never knew about Brunei.
1. ONE OF THE FEW COUNTRIES PRACTICING ABSOLUTE MONARCHY.
The country of Brunei is the only nation left in South East Asia that practices absolute monarchy. Absolute monarchy means that the ruler or in this case, Sultan, has the final say. His powers are unlimited and are not regulated by a constitution. Brunei is just one of the six nations in the world left with this kind of government.
2. THE WORLD’S LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH ALIVE
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, is currently the world’s longest reigning monarch. He gained the title after the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022. He’s been ruling Brunei for 54 years now.
3. 2ND RICHEST RULING MONARCH.
Hassanal Bolkiah, with a net worth of $28 billion dollars, is the second-richest monarch alive. He is second only to the king of Thailand, who has a shocking net worth of $43 billion. Until 1980, Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei was the richest man in the world.
4. THE SULTAN’S LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLE.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah enjoys a life of so much luxury. As the 2nd richest monarch, his lifestyle is no surprise. The Sultan, who is also the country’s prime minister, is a gold lover, even his sinks are made of gold. He has 7000 cars, a gold Rolls-Royce that is custom-made. The sultan also owns 600 Rolls-Royces, 450 Ferraris and 380 Bentleys. His collection is worth over US$5 billion, according to Hotcars website. What even make his collection more enviable is his rare stashes which include a grey Lamborghini Urraco, a Ferrari 456 GT Venice (one of only seven in the world) and a Porsche 959. According to a Born rich report, the Sultan has his own Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767-200 and Airbus A340-200 jets. The Boeing 747-400 is gold platted and costs about $400 million USD.
The Sultan also receives a $20,000 haircut from his barber from the UK. He also lives in the largest residential palace in the world.
5. WORLD’S LARGEST RESIDENTIAL PALACE.
Instana Nurul Iman, the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, is the largest single family residence ever built. The palace contains 1,788 rooms, which includes 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall that can be expanded to accommodate up to 5,000 guests, a mosque accommodating 1,500 people.
The palace also includes a 110-car garage, an air conditioned stable for the Sultan’s 200 polo ponies, and five swimming pools. In total, Istana Nurul Iman contains 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m²) of floorspace. Istana Nurul Iman has 564 chandeliers, 51,000 light bulbs, 44 stairwells and 18 elevators. That’s one large palace.
6. THE SULTAN’S BIRTHDAY IS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY
The Sultan’s birthday is celebrated on the 15th of July of every year. It is marked by nationwide festivities and activities. The day begins with mass prayers and the Sultan addresses the public later in the day. .
7. BRUNEI WAS ONCE A BRITISH PROTECTORATE.
Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984 when full independence was attained from the British. Brunei has been a member of the commonwealth since its independence on 1st January 1984.
8. PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM
With 78.8% of the population being Muslims, Islam is the official religion of Brunei, and it is the only religion in the country that can be taught in schools. Though, 7% of the population are Christians, they aren’t allowed to proselytise. Brunei is the most Islamic observant nation in all of southeast Asia. Beautiful and luxurious mosques are abundant.
9. THE COUNTRY USES SHARIA LAW
In 2014, the Sultan of the Islamic nation of Brunei adopted Sharia law despite its widespread international condemnation. It became the first south east Asian country to do so.
Under the new laws — which apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim — those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second. Really strict. Celebrities such as George Clooney, Elton John, and Ellen DeGeneres has aired out their opposition and even boycott Brunein hotels.
10. CHRISTMAS DAY IS BANNED BY DECREE.
In 2015, Brunei banned all Christmas Celebrations including little acts such as wearing of Christmas hats. The punishment for breaking this law is a 5 year jail term or a fine of $20,000 USD or both. Although non-Muslims are allowed to celebrate the holiday within their own communities, they are not allowed to share their plans with the country’s Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of the population so as not to lead them astray.
11. MARRIAGES BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS ARE PROHIBITED.
This is a serious crime in Brunei, it is even punishable by death. The law also discourages Muslims from learning about other religions. Is this law too strict?
12. BRUNEI HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST VEHICLE OWNERSHIP RATE IN THE WORLD.
Brunei has a car ownership rate of one car for 2.65 people based on statistics. This shows that the citizens are financially stable.
13. SECOND LEAST CORRUPT SOUTH EAST ASIAN NATION.
Brunei is second only to Singapore in all of south east Asia in terms of low corruption rate. According to Transparency International (TI). With a score 63, it is the 31st least corrupt nation in the world.
14. BRUNEIANS ENJOY A HIGH STANDARD OF LIVING.
Thanks to the country’s abundance of crude oil, Bruneians enjoy a very high standard of living _one of the highest in the world. Bruneians don’t pay Value added tax and they don’t receive minimum wage. The country also has a very low corporate tax of just 22% making it a good country for business.
15. MOST OF THE COUNTRY’S BEEF COMES FROM AUSTRALIA.
Most of the country’s beef comes from its ranch in Australia. Until 2014, it had a ranch bigger than itself_the Willeroo station. In 2014 they managed to sell it off to an Indonesian company for the price of $12 million. 3 years later in 2017 the Indonesian company resold it to Australia richest person Gina Rinehart. The country still owns one cattle station in Opium Creek.
16. BRUNEI IS THE FIRST ASIAN COUNTRY TO BAN SHARK FINNING.
Shark finning is the gruesome practice of cutting off a live shark’s fins and throwing the rest of the animal back into the sea, where it dies a slow and painful death. In June 2013, Brunei became the first Asian country to put a ban on shark finning. This acts was applauded by the international community and conservationists. All shark products are also criminalized in the country.
17. LARGEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE AMUSEMENT PARK IN SOUTH EAST ASIA.
The Jerudong park is an amusement park in Brunei established in 1994. It is located in Jerudong in the country’s Brunei-Muara District. A whooping $1 Billion dollars was spent in the construction . It was funded by the country’s government . It is regarded as the most expensive and largest amusement park in south east Asia.
18. RARE WILDLIFE SPECIES.
Brunei Darussalam has a rich diversity of wildlife within its rain forests and along its ocean coasts. Birds, monkeys, rare creatures, mammals that swim and fly – Brunei has it all for a wildlife watcher with a taste for adventure. Brunei is home to the proboscis monkey, Bornean frog, Sunda clouded leopard, sun bears, rhinoceros, flying lizards and more.
19. BRUNEI HAS A STATUE CELEBRATING ITS ONE BILLIONTH OIL PRODUCTION.
THE BILLIONTH BARREL MONUMENT WAS commissioned by the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company in 1991. As the name suggests, it commemorates the billionth barrel of crude oil produced at the Seria field.
The monument was erected close to the site of the first well discovered in Brunei in 1929.
20. BRUNEI IS RUNNING OUT OF OIL.
According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021, Brunei’s oil reserves will likely run out in 27 years. The oil giant need to find a way of diversifying their economomy which is heavily reliant on oil exports.