Brunei has been a center of human settlement since at least the eighth century AD , and by the thirteenth century it was an Islamic state. The Sultan of Brunei ceded Sarawak to James Brooke, an English adventurer, in 1841, and Brunei was then placed under British protection in 1888. The country was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II from 1941 to 1945. After the war, Brunei was a protected state, with the United Kingdom (UK) taking responsibility for its defense and foreign relations until 1 January 1984, when it became a fully independent nation.
Brunei is a monarchy. Under the provisions of the Constitution promulgated on 29 September 1959, sovereign authority is vested in the sultan. As the head of state, the sultan presides over a Council of Ministers and is assisted and advised by a Legislative Council, a Religious Council, a Privy Council (to deal with constitutional issues), and the Council of Succession. Hassanal Bolkiah is the twenty-ninth sultan in a royal line that stretches back in time further than any other existing monarchy. He came to the throne by virtue of having been first born. Since 1962, when a state of emergency was declared, the sultan has had virtually absolute political power.
Political parties do not wield much power in Brunei. The only legal political party is the Brunei Solidarity National Party (PPKB), with just 200 members. PPKB was first registered in 1985, but it has had many periods since then when it was inactive. The Brunei People's Party (PRB) has been banned since 1962, and the Brunei National Democratic Party lost its government registration in 1988.