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10 Interesting Facts About Brunei
March 29, 2024

10 Interesting Facts About Brunei

Quick facts about Brunei:

  • Population: Approximately 400,000 people.
  • Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan.
  • Official Language: Malay.
  • Currency: Brunei Dollar (BND).
  • Government: Absolute monarchy.
  • Major Religion: Islam.
  • Geography: Located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, bordered by the South China Sea.

Fact 1: Brunei is one of only two countries in Asia that has an absolute monarchy

Brunei is one of the two remaining absolute monarchies in Asia, where Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah wields significant authority. As one of the wealthiest individuals globally, Sultan Bolkiah’s opulent lifestyle includes vast palaces, luxurious vehicles, and a lavish personal fortune estimated at around $20 billion.

Fact 2: Brunei is a small country with large oil and gas reserves

Brunei, with a land area of about 5,765 square kilometers, ranks among the smallest countries globally. But Brunei boasts substantial oil and natural gas reserves, with approximately 1.1 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and about 15.2 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. These reserves play a crucial role in Brunei’s economy, serving as a major source of revenue and driving its energy sector. The country’s oil and gas industry has attracted significant investment and contributed significantly to its economic development and prosperity.

Fact 3: About 70% of Brunei is covered by tropical forests

Approximately 70% of Brunei’s land area is indeed covered by tropical forests, making it one of the most forested countries in Southeast Asia. These forests are rich in biodiversity, hosting a wide array of plant and animal species. Brunei’s forests play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance, regulating climate, and providing habitat for diverse wildlife. The government of Brunei has implemented conservation efforts to protect these forests, including establishing national parks and reserves.

Fact 4: Brunei lives under strict Sharia law

Under this legal system, certain behaviors considered unlawful or immoral under Islamic law are subject to severe penalties, including corporal punishment and capital punishment. However, it’s essential to note that Sharia law is primarily applied to Muslims in Brunei, while non-Muslims are subject to civil law. As of recent data, Brunei has faced criticism from various human rights organizations and international bodies for its implementation of Sharia law, particularly concerning its impact on personal freedoms and human rights.

Fact 5: Brunei has beautiful mosque architecture

Brunei boasts stunning mosque architecture, characterized by intricate designs, majestic domes, and ornate minarets. One notable example is the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, located in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. This iconic mosque features a gleaming golden dome, marble columns, and Italian-imported marble walls, making it a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

Another remarkable mosque is the Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia. Its grandiose structure showcases traditional Islamic architectural elements with modern touches, including lush gardens and reflective pools, creating a serene atmosphere for worshippers and visitors alike.

Fact 6: Brunei has a lot of car ownership and little public transportation

Brunei does have limited public transportation infrastructure compared to some other countries. While there are buses available in urban areas like Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city, the coverage and frequency may not be as extensive as in larger cities elsewhere. However, it’s important to note that efforts have been made to improve public transportation in recent years, including the introduction of a bus rapid transit system. This is due to the high level of motorization of the population in Brunei. Most people here have a car.

Note: If you plan to visit the country, check if you need an International Driver’s License in Brunei to drive.

Fact 7: Brunei has built the most expensive hotel in Brunei

Brunei is home to one of the most expensive hotels in the world, the Empire Hotel and Country Club. However, the reported cost of $2.7 billion dollars may be inflated. While the hotel is known for its opulence and grandeur, including luxurious accommodations, extensive amenities, and sprawling grounds, the actual construction cost is estimated to be significantly lower.

The Empire Hotel and Country Club, situated in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, is a lavish resort complex boasting a blend of traditional and contemporary architectural styles. It features a golf course, multiple swimming pools, lavish spa facilities, and exquisite dining options. The hotel’s lavishness and the extensive amenities it offers contribute to its reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious destinations.

Fact 8: In Brunei, money is made of plastic

These polymer banknotes are more durable and resistant to wear and tear compared to traditional paper banknotes. Brunei adopted polymer banknotes for its currency, the Brunei dollar (BND), in 2004, becoming one of the early adopters of this technology.

Polymer banknotes offer several advantages over paper banknotes, including increased security features to prevent counterfeiting, longer lifespan, and resistance to water and other damage. The use of polymer banknotes has become increasingly common in many countries around the world due to these benefits.

Fact 9: The Sultan’s Palace is the largest residential palace of a head of state.

Constructed in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan, Istana Nurul Iman covers an immense area, estimated at around 2.15 million square feet (200,000 square meters). The palace features luxurious amenities, including numerous rooms for accommodation, banquet halls, mosques, and extensive landscaped gardens. Its opulent architecture and lavish interiors reflect the wealth and status of the Bruneian monarchy.

Fact 10: One of the major holidays is the Sultan’s birthday

In Brunei, the Sultan’s birthday is celebrated as a major holiday, typically observed with various festivities, cultural events, and ceremonies across the country. It’s a significant occasion for the people of Brunei to show their respect and loyalty to the monarchy.

But public displays of Christmas decorations, celebrations, or events that are deemed to promote non-Islamic religious practices may be restricted or prohibited to adhere to Brunei’s Islamic regulations. Non-Muslim residents and expatriates are allowed to celebrate Christmas within the privacy of their homes or places of worship. It’s essential to respect the cultural and religious norms of the country while visiting or residing in Brunei.

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