Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace
Negara Brunei Darussalam
CAPITAL : Bandar Seri Begawan
FLAG : On a yellow field extend two diagonal stripes of white and black, with the state emblem centered in red.
ANTHEM : National Anthem, beginning Ya Allah lanjutkan usia ("God bless His Highness with a long life").
MONETARY UNIT : The Brunei dollar ( B $, or ringgit) of 100 cents is valued at par with, and is interchangeable with, the Singapore dollar. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and notes of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 10,000 Brunei dollars. B $1 = US $0.5617; (or US $1 = B $1.78) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Imperial weights and measures are in common use, as are certain local units, but a change to the metric system is slowly proceeding.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; National Day, 23 February; Anniversary of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, 31 May; Sultan's Birthday, 15 July. Movable holidays include the Chinese New Year and various Muslim holy days.
TIME : 8 PM = noon GMT.
Brunei's western enclave contains most of the country's population, as well as the capital; the thinly populated eastern zone is mainly dense forest. The land generally consists of primary and secondary tropical rain forest, with a narrow coastal strip on the western enclave. The eastern enclave is more hilly, rising to 1,850 m (6,070 ft) in the peak of Mt. Pagon in the extreme south.
The country has a tropical climate, with uniform temperatures ranging from 23° to 32° C (73–89° F ). Humidity is high—about 80% all year round—and annual rainfall varies from about 275 cm (110 in) along the coast to more than 500 cm (200 in) in the interior. Rainfall is heaviest during the northeast monsoon season (landas), especially in November and December.
The country is largely covered by mangrove and peat swamp, heath, montane vegetation, and dipterocarpaceous forest. The rain forest and swampland are inhabited by a plethora of small mammals, tropical birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Mammals include both wild and domesticated buffalo, honey bear, deer, and monkeys. Insects are abundant and sometimes harmful, in particular the malarial mosquito and biting midge.
There is little emigration except among the Chinese minority. The government is battling considerable illegal immigration, especially from Indonesia and Sarawak. In 2000, the net migration rate was 2.6 migrants per 1,000 population. In that year there were 104,000 migrants residing in Brunei, which was almost one-third of the total population.
Malays formed 67% of the population in 2002. Minorities included an estimated 15% Chinese and 12% designated as other. There is a small Caucasian minority, chiefly of English, Dutch, American, and Australian stock.
Malay is the official language. English is also widely spoken, as is Chinese. The principal Chinese dialect is Hokkien, with Hakka, Cantonese, and Mandarin dialects also in use. Many native dialects are spoken as well.
Islam, the official religion, dominates everyday life. Religious practice is controlled by the influential Religious Affairs Department. According to unofficial estimates, 67% of the population are Muslim. About 13% practice Buddhism, 10% are Christian, and 10% are tribal folk-religionists and members of other religious groups. Primary Christian denominations include Anglicans, Catholics, and Methodists.
The Royal Brunei Armed Forces in 2002 consisted of an army of 4,900 (including 700 women), a navy of 1,000, and an air force of 1,100. Paramilitary forces include a Gurkha reserve unit of 2,000 and 1,750 members of the Brunei Royal Police. Brunei spent $343 million for defense in 1998 or 5.1% of GDP.
Brunei was admitted to UN membership on 21 September 1984, and is a member of ICAO, IMF, IMO, ITU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, and WMO. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, ASEAN, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as a member of the WTO.
Traditional fishing has declined in recent years, with only 60% of home consumption provided by local fishermen. The Fisheries Department has supplied a small trawling fleet, and continuing efforts are being made to develop both freshwater and saltwater aquaculture. Fish hatcheries are in operation on a six-hectare (15-acre) site near Muara. The annual fish harvest in 2000 totaled 2,487 tons, down from 7,405 tons in 1996.
Forests cover and estimated 82% of the land area. Forest reserves constitute about 41% of the land area. Exports of timber are restricted. There is a small sawmill and logging industry for local needs. In 2000, Brunei produced about 229,000 cu m (8 million cu ft) of roundwood.
Brunei's mining industry was engaged primarily in the production and processing of crude oil and natural gas. Principal nonfuel mineral resources in 2001 were carbonate rocks, coal, kaolin, sand and gravel, and other varieties of stone. In 2000 construction started on a silica-processing plant to produce silica plates from the country's reserves of high-quality silica sands in Tutong District.
In 2003, Brunei had four companies providing general and life insurance: American International Assurance Co. Ltd., BALGI Insurance, General Accident and Life Assurance, and Simi AXA Assurance Berhad.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that in 1997 Brunei Darussalam's central government took in revenues of approximately $2.5 billion and had expenditures of $2.6 billion including capital expenditures of $1.4 billion. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $100 million. External debt totaled $0.
Brunei levies tariffs ranging from zero to 30% on selected items including perfume, and has a single-column tariff structure. The country joined ASEAN in 1984 and has reduced trade barriers with member nations.
The powerful Religious Affairs Department permeates daily life; its activities include sponsoring Islamic pilgrimages and establishing village mosque committees. Sports facilities tend to be privately maintained. There are four chambers of commerce in the country.
Omar Ali Saifuddin (1916–86) was sultan from 1950 to 1967 and minister of defense from 1984 to 1986. His son, Muda Hassanal Bolkiah (Bolkiah Mu'izuddin Waddaulah, b.1946), one of the wealthiest men in the world, has been sultan since 1967.
Brunei has no territories or colonies.
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