Brunei, officially named Brunei Darussalam, is a small, independent country that sits on the islands of Borneo. It is on the north coast and is surrounded by Malaysia.
The country is the fourth-smallest in Asia after the Maldives, Singapore, and Bahrain.
The country’s capital and largest city is Bandar Seri Begawan, formerly known as Brunei Town.
According to historians, Brunei acquired its name from a man identified as Awang Alak Betatar who exclaimed “Baru Nah,” which means “That’s it.”
Awang is also the man behind the formation and kickoff of the Sultanate of Brunei.
Immediately after he established his dynasty in the country, he was rebaptized as Sultan Muhammad Shah.
The country’s full name is Negara Brunei Darussalam, where Negara means “country” and Darussalam means “abode of peace.”
The Sultan has the final say.
Brunei is an absolute monarchy, with the Sultan wielding absolute power. The Sultan is the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, and Finance Minister of the country.
Apart from that, the Sultan has full executive authority, and he is the head of state.
Even when there is no parliament, there have never been elections in the country.
The country’s citizens are guided by both English common law and Islamic Sharia law.
The Sultan of Brunei is the world’s second longest reigning monarch
The current King of Brunei is Hassanal Bolkiah, whose family has been on the throne for the last six centuries.
He took over the position in October 1967.
With over 50 years in the seat, Hassanal has become the world’s second longest-reigning king.
The world’s longest-reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II.
The country banned shark finning
Shark finning is a cruel and harmful practice that endangers the survival of shark species.
In June 2013, Brunei became the first Asian country to outlaw shark finning, a move lauded by conservation organizations worldwide.
The directives barred anyone from catching sharks in the waters off Brunei.
It is also illegal to export, import, or trade any shark products.
World’s largest stilt settlement
Brunei has the world’s largest stilt, Kampong Ayer, which is also known as “Venice of the East.”
The historical settlement is on the Brunei River, which flows past Bandar Seri Begawan city.
And interestingly, the settlement is built on the river, with all buildings supported by stilts standing on the water.
The houses are then connected by walkways and bridges. The settlement is a major tourism attraction in the country.
Islam is the official religion in Brunei. Other religions like Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism are practiced, but in very low percentages.
The government has also imposed stringent regulations on all non-Muslims.
In Brunei, it is illegal for non-Islamics to proselytize, or teach the Christian faith in school. All schools must teach about Islam, no matter what religion they are.
The mosques of Brunei are also main tourist destinations due to their beauty and elegance.
The mosques are made using traditional and futuristic elements, which are perfectly blended in the architecture of these mosques.
Rarest wildlife species
The rainforests of Brunei have played a major role in the country, mostly by being home to the world’s rarest species.
The country has managed to preserve 70 percent of its rainforest, even though it’s a small country and has development pressures.
You will find some of the most threatened species of flora and fauna. Other notable wildlife species are the Sunda clouded leopard, proboscis monkey, hornbills, flying lizards, and saltwater crocodiles, among others.
It’s rich in oil and natural gas
According to economic reports, Brunei is the third largest producer of oil in Southeast Asia and the ninth largest producer of natural gas in the world.
The production of oil and natural gas plays a major role in the Brunei economy and accounts for up to 90 percent.
The most important oil field in the country is the onshore oil field at Seria.
The country also constructed a monument in 1991 to celebrate the barrel of oil produced at the Seria oilfield.
The monument is called the Billionth Barrel.
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LGBTQ members are stoned to death.
Brunei created a harsh criminal law that states that anyone who practices adultery or gay sex must be stoned to death.
The penal code makes the country the first in east or southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level. Most countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, adhere to the Sharia.
The new rule was originally scheduled to be published in 2013, but it was delayed by seven years due to international outrage.
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