Negara Brunei Darussalam (Brunei), with its capital in Bandar Seri Begawan, lies in the Southeastern part of Asia. It is bordered by Malaysia and the South China Sea and has a total area of 5,765 square kilometers. Brunei Darussalam’s population is estimated at 408,786 (July 2012 est.). Almost 70% of the population is Malay, with indigenous groups, Chinese and foreign migrants comprising the remainder.
Malay is the national and official language and English is also widely spoken, followed by Chinese in its different dialects. Islam is the official religion of Brunei Darussalam and is practiced by close to 70% of the population.
Brunei is an absolute monarchy, ruled by the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. The Sultan is the Head of State, Head of Government, and also serves as the Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. The Sultan is advised by, and presides over, five different councils that assist with Brunei’s governance. The Council of Ministers supports the running of government, and there are Councils to advise the Sultan on religious issues, state custom and official appointments. In 2004, the Legislative Council was reconstituted after 20 years dormancy. The Council meets at least once a year and supports the Sultan on legislative matters. The Council is comprised of up to 30 Ministers and distinguished persons, and up to 15 district representatives. All Council members are appointed by the Sultan.
Brunei’s economy is heavily dependent upon the oil and gas sector. Brunei has the second highest per capita gross domestic product of the ASEAN Member States.
Brunei joined the United Nations (UN) on 21 September 1984, after gaining full independence from Britain, and since then has actively engaged with the different UN funds, programs, and specialized agencies.
Brunei is also a member of various international organizations. Brunei became a member of; the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Word Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995; the Asian Development Bank in 2006; and the International Labor Organization in 2007. Brunei is also a member of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Asia-Middle East Dialogue (AMED), Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Commonwealth, Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), International Maritime Organization (IMO), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).