U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes:  Brunei, November 1995 
Bureau of Public Affairs 
 
November 1995 
Official Name:  Brunei Darussalam 
 
PROFILE 
 
Geography 
 
Area: 5,769 sq. km. (2,227 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Delaware. 
Cities: Capital--Bandar Seri Begawan. 
Terrain: East--flat coastal plains with beaches; west--hilly with a few 
mountain ridges. 
Climate: Equatorial; high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall. 
 
People 
 
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Bruneian(s). 
Population (1994): 285,000. 
Annual growth rate (1994): 2.7%. 
Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other indigenous. 
Religion: Islam. 
Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects. 
Education: Years compulsory--nine. Literacy--77%. 
Health: Life expectancy--71 years. Infant mortality rate--25/1,000. 
 
Government 
 
Type: Sultanate. 
Independence: January 1, 1984. 
Constitution: 1959. 
Branches: Executive--Sultan is both head of state and prime minister, 
presiding over an 11-member cabinet. Judicial--(based on Indian penal 
code and English common law) magistrate's courts, High Court, Court of 
Appeals, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (sits in London). 
Subdivisions: Four districts--Brunei-Muara, Belait, Tutong, and 
Temburong. 
 
Economy 
 
GDP (1993): $4.4 billion. 
Natural resources: Oil and natural gas. 
Trade: Exports--oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, 
garments. Major markets--Japan, U.S. Imports--machinery and transport 
equipment, manufactured goods. Major suppliers--Singapore, U.K. 
 
U.S.-BRUNEI RELATIONS 
 
Relations between the United States and Brunei date from the last 
century. On April 6, 1845, the U.S.S. Constitution visited Brunei; the 
two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and 
Navigation in 1850, which remains in force today. The United States 
maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 to 1867. 
 
The U.S. welcomed Brunei Darussalam's receipt of full independence from 
the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984, and opened an embassy in Bandar 
Seri Begawan on that date. Brunei opened its embassy in Washington in 
March 1984. Brunei's armed forces engage in joint exercises, training 
programs, and other military cooperation with the U.S. A memorandum of 
understanding on defense cooperation was signed on November 29, 1994. 
 
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials 
 
Ambassador--Theresa A. Tull 
Economic/Political/Commercial Officer--vacant 
Administrative/Consular Officer--Naomi Edwards 
 
The U.S. embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan is located on the third floor of 
Teck Guan Plaza, at the corner of Jalan Sultan and Jalan MacArthur; tel. 
673-2-229670, 220384, 229785, 229786, 241645, or 235254; fax 673-2-
225293. 
 
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS 
 
Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the sultan is the head of state with 
full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. The 
sultan is assisted and advised by five councils, which he appoints. 
 
An 11-member Council of Ministers, or cabinet, assists in the 
administration of the government. The sultan presides over the cabinet 
as prime minister and also holds the position of minister of defense. 
Two of the sultan's brothers serve as ministers of foreign affairs and 
finance. 
 
Brunei's legal system is based on English common law, with an 
independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgments and 
statutes, and legislation enacted by the sultan. Most cases are tried by 
the local magistrate's courts. More serious cases go before the High 
Court, which sits for about two weeks every few months. Brunei has an 
arrangement with the Government of Hong Kong whereby Hong Kong judges 
are appointed as the judges for Brunei's High Court and Court of Appeal. 
Final appeal can be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council 
in London in civil but not criminal cases. 
 
The Government of Brunei assures continuing public support for the 
current form of government by providing economic benefits such as 
subsidized food, fuel and housing, free education and medical care, and 
low-interest loans for government employees. The Sultan said in a 1989 
interview that he intends to proceed, with prudence, to establish more 
liberal institutions in the country and that he will reintroduce 
elections and a legislature when he "can see evidence of a genuine 
interest in politics on the part of a responsible majority of 
Bruneians." In 1994, a constitutional review committee submitted its 
findings to the Sultan, but these have not been made public. 
 
A tiny country with enormous oil and gas reserves--the economy is almost 
totally supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas--Brunei's 
financial reserves are reportedly more than $30 billion. The country's 
wealth, coupled with its membership in the Association of Southeast 
Asian Nations, give it influence in the world disproportionate to its 
size. 
 
Principal Government Officials 
 
Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan, Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense--His 
Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah 
Minister of Foreign Affairs--His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah 
Ambassador to the United States--Jaya bin Abdul Latif 
Ambassador to the UN--Pengiran Haji-Abdul Momin 
 
 
Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 2600 
Virginia Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20037; tel. 202-342-0159. 
 
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION 
 
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the Department of State recommends that Americans avoid 
travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security 
information, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. 
embassies and consulates in the subject country. They can be obtained by 
telephone at (202) 647-5225 or by fax at (202) 647-3000. To access the 
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board by computer, dial (202) 647-9225, via a 
modem with standard settings. Bureau of Consular Affairs' publications 
on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad are available 
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 783-3238. 
 
Emergency information concerning  Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. 
 
While planning a trip, travelers can check the latest information on 
health requirements and conditions with the U.S. Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 
provides telephonic or fax information on the most recent health 
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on 
food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet 
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication 
number CDC-94-8280, price $7.00) is available from the Superintendent of 
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. 
(202) 512-1800. 
 
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 
 
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to 
register with the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" 
listing in this publication). Such information might assist family 
members in making contact en route in case of an emergency. 
 
Further Electronic Information: 
 
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB 
provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful 
information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge to 
anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications software, and 
telephone line. 
 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press 
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. 
DOSFAN is accessible three ways on the Internet: 
 
Gopher:  dosfan.lib.uic.edu 
URL:  gopher://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ 
WWW:  http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/dosfan.html 
 
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Priced at 
$80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include four discs (MSDOS and 
Macintosh compatible) and are available from the Superintendent of 
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 37194, Pittsburgh, 
PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250. 
 
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy 
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. Government 
Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For general BBS 
information, call (202) 512-1530. 
 
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet 
(gopher. stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 
482-1986 for more information. 
 
============================== 
Background Notes Series -- Published by the United States Department of 
State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- 
Washington, DC 
 
This material is in the public domain and may be reproduced without 
permission; citation of this source is appreciated. 
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