Brunei Country Information

Brunei Country Information

Brunei is located in Southeast Asia, on the northwest coast of the island of Kalimantan and consists of two separate areas separated by approximately 30 km of Malaysian territory. It borders with Malaysia, in the north it is washed by the South China Sea. Western Brunei is a rolling lowland, the eastern part consists of a coastal plain rising to a height of 1841 m in the Bukit Pagon region. According to, Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital city of Brunei.

Brunei is a country of contradictions and contrasts. Mosques with gilded domes coexist here with poor neighborhoods built on stilts. At the same time, Brunei has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. People live here, observing the strict laws of Shiria, and the norms of behavior in the country are quite strict.

Alcohol is prohibited in Brunei and there is no nightlife, which is probably why only real travelers come here who want to get acquainted with the true traditions of the East and its history.

The ethnic composition is very heterogeneous: over half of the population are Malays, there are many representatives of the indigenous peoples of Kalimantan – Kelayans, Ibans, Melanaus, Dusuns, Muruts; There are Chinese people from India. The Malays are engaged in agriculture, crafts, fishing, the Chinese – in trade, small business; Dayaks – fishing, hunting and agriculture.

The head of state and government is the Sultan. He is also the religious leader of Muslims and the country. The government consists mainly of his close relatives. The state system is an independent sultanate.

The work of institutions – most institutions are closed after 21.00. Government offices in Brunei are open Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 7:45 to 12:15 and from 13:30 to 16:30.


Import of local currency is unlimited, export is allowed up to 1000 Brunei dollars (BND) or a similar amount of Singapore dollars. The import of foreign currency is not limited (the declaration is obligatory), the export is within the limits declared at the entrance. Indian rupees are not allowed.

For persons over 17 years of age, duty-free import of up to 200 cigarettes, or 225 gr. tobacco, or an equivalent amount of tobacco products (these rules do not apply to passengers entering from the territory of the Malaysian states of Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan), up to 1 bottle (1.1 l) of wine and a similar amount of strong alcoholic beverages, up to 378 ml of perfume, from of which no more than 60 ml can be occupied by perfumes.

It is forbidden to import: drugs, weapons (permission is required for the import of cold weapons), pornography, goods, coins or banknotes of Israel, clothes with texts from the Koran printed on it, radios (68-87 and 108-174 MHz), gold over 100 gr., antiques, wild birds, animals and plants.

Medical service

Free for Brunei citizens. Hospitals are equipped with modern medical equipment and use advanced treatment methods. There are both public and private clinics in cities. International health insurance is recommended.

Need to know

Brunei is a rather strict Muslim country; there is even a Ministry of Religious Affairs here, which monitors compliance with Islamic norms and promotes Islam in all aspects of the country’s life. The Constitution, however, takes into account the peculiarities of other religions professed by the inhabitants of the country, and the right of complete freedom of religion is also exercised. At the same time, obvious concessions have been made in some well-known Islamic norms, and local residents enjoy the reputation of liberals – women in Brunei walk freely in both national and European clothes, serve in the police, drive cars and participate in public life. However, women are strongly advised not to wear flashy short dresses. When visiting a mosque, all visitors must take off their shoes and leave them at the doorstep (a similar rule applies to the entrance to local dwellings). Women must cover their heads and have clothes covering their knees and wrists. The consumption of pork and alcohol is prohibited in Brunei, but the private consumption of wine by non-Muslims in hotels and some restaurants is allowed (this should not be done in public).

It is impossible to use the left hand when passing something, this part of the body is considered “unclean” in Islam.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat from sunrise to sunset. Eating or drinking in their presence during this period is extremely indecent. In the last week of Ramadan, many restaurants are closed during the day, and smoking and drinking are strictly limited. In honor of the celebration of Hari Raya Aidulfitri, the doors of the Royal Palace of Brunei are opened to the public, and all the mosques of the country hold festive services. The second day of Hari Raya Aidulfitri is usually celebrated by inviting all friends to visit, even His Majesty the Sultan opens the doors of his Istana Nurul Iman palace.

One of the most colorful holidays in Brunei is the Sultan’s Birthday, which kicks off a two-week festive marathon with numerous parades, processions, traditional sports competitions and fireworks, as well as the opening of the noisy pasar-malam night markets, where you can buy almost all the culinary delights of local cuisine..

The modernization characteristic of the coastal zone did not affect the interior of the country, where subsistence farming continues to thrive. Local residents here are exempt from taxes, many types of services, primarily health care and education (including abroad), are paid by the state, and on the birthday of the Sultan everyone receives gifts. In addition, the state pays for the traditional annual pilgrimage to Mecca – “Hajj”.

The casual wear of Brunei men and women is the sarong, a long skirt made from a piece of fabric with sewn ends. Men often wear it over trousers. Sarong is multifunctional: it can serve as a blanket and shelter from mosquitoes, it is used as a screen for the administration of natural needs in crowded places, for example, on the seashore. Lightweight cotton clothing is most preferred.

Women are advised to adhere to the customs of the Islamic country, dress modestly and avoid mini-skirts and sleeveless clothing. In Brunei, it is not recommended to wear yellow, as this is the privilege of the Sultan.


The first mention of Brunei by Chinese chroniclers dates back to the 6th century AD. e. In the 10th century, Brunei became known as the “Buddhist Kingdom of Srivijaya of the Sumatra Empire”, which was probably the prototype of the Java Empire. Brunei reached its peak in the 16th century and played an important role in the spread of Islam. While Portugal, Spain, Holland and England were expanding their colonial possessions in Southeast Asia, the sultans of Brunei were able to maintain the independence and sovereignty of the state, despite the reduction of its territories and spheres of influence.

At that time, Brunei was a powerful state that occupied a significant part of the island of Kalimantan and some neighboring islands in the 16th century. Life in the Sultanate of Brunei was in full swing: the sultans ruled the island, fought with neighbors and piracy in the surrounding seas. They fought to the point that they lost most of their territories. And only in the 20s of the last century, when there was practically nothing left of the country’s former greatness, oil was found in the country. And Brunei suddenly became a fabulously rich country.

Brunei Country Information