U.S. Department of State  
Background Notes: Brunei, November 1997 
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Official Name: Brunei Darussalam 


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.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Bruneian(s).  
Population (1996): 305,100.  
Annual growth rate (1996): 3.1%.  
Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese, other indigenous.  
Religion: Islam.  
Languages: Malay, English, Chinese; Iban and other indigenous dialects.  
Education: Years compulsory--nine. Literacy--88.2%. (1995 est.)
Health: Life expectancy--71 years. Infant mortality rate--


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 


GDP (1996): $5.5 billion. 
Natural resources: Oil and natural gas.  
Trade: Exports--oil, liquefied natural gas, petroleum products, 
Major markets--Japan, U.S. Imports--machinery and transport equipment, 
manufactured goods. Major suppliers--Singapore, U.K. 


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--Glen R. Rase  
Economic/Political/Commercial Officer--William H. Moore  
Administrative/Consular Officer--George Novinger 

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-


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. 
One of the Sultan's brothers serve as minister of foreign affairs. 

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 

Principal Government Officials 

Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and 
Minister of Finance-- His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah  
Minister of Foreign Affairs--His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah  
Ambassador to the United States-Pengiran Anak Dato Haji Puteh
Ambassador to the UN--Pengiran Maidin Hashim 

Brunei Darussalam maintains an embassy in the United States at 2600 
Virginia Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20037; tel. 202-342-0159.


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department 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, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: 
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). 
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will 
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. 
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security information from 
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of 
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives 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-95-8280) is 
available from the 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). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas 
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country 
(see Principal U.S. Embassy Officials; listing in this publication). 
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

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 magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual 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. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is 
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the 
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information. 

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