Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan
Size: 2200 sq m Popn: 270 000
This country is made up of two separate enclaves on the island of Borneo. It was an independent Islamic sultanate from the C15th and became a powerful state by the C16th, with dominion over the whole of Borneo and parts of the Philippines. This influence declined as the Portuguese and Dutch presence in the region increased. It became a British protectorate in 1888, and in 1906 agreed to accept a British Resident as advisor to the sultan. In the 1920s oil was discovered and the country became extremely prosperous. It was invaded by Japan in 1941 and liberated by Australia in 1945, when it returned to Britain.
In 1950, Sir Muda Omar Ali Saiffuddin Saadal Khairi Waddien (Sir Omar) became sultan. Internal self-government was granted in 1959 with Britain remaining responsible for defence and foreign affairs. In 1962, a proposal that Brunei should join the Federation of Malaysia which controls neighbouring Sarawak, was met with revolution which was put down by British troops. The sultan decided to rule by decree and although he abdicated in 1967, he continued as chief advisor to his son Hassan al Bolkiah, dying in 1986. Full internal self-government was granted in 1971 and full independence came in 1984. The sultan became prime minister, and minister of finance and home affairs and his cabinet of six included three close relatives. A small British force remained to protect the gas and oil fields that made the country the richest per head in Asia. In 1985, the sultan allowed the formation of the Brunei National Democratic Party. It consisted mostly of business people and was loyal to the sultan. Ethnic Chinese and government employees, who were not allowed to join, combined with breakaway BNDP members to form the Brunei National United Party in 1986. This became the only political party after the sultan dissolved the BNDP in 1988. The BNUP is loyal to the sultan but advocates the introduction of an elected prime ministerial system.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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