The Sultanate of Brunei is a former great power and today a rich oil nation. Brunei is considered one of the most politically stable countries in Asia, but with very limited democratic rights. The Sultan governs the country as a monarch.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan
- Ethnic groups: Malaysian 66%, Chinese 10%, other 24% (2016)
- Language: Malay (Bahasa Melayu) (official), English, Chinese dialects
- Religion: Muslims (officially) 79%, Christians 9%, Buddhists 8%, others (including local religions) 5% (2011)
- Population: 429 000 (2017)
- Control Form: sultanat
- Area: 5 770 km²
- Currency: dollar
- GNP per capita: 77 421 PPP $
- National Day: February 23rd
Population of Brunei
The population of Brunei is estimated at 450 565 (2018). The number of residents increased by 1.55 percent compared to 2017. Brunei has, by Asian scale, a relatively low death rate (3.7 percent) and a long life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth is 80 for women and 75.2 for men. The birth rate per woman is 1.77 children (2018).
The population is mixed, with the Malay (65.7 percent) as the most important group. Brunei Malays are mainly indigenous peoples (dekayan and melanau) who are now Sunni Muslims. Approximately six percent of the population are Indians and other non-Muslim tribes living inland and who have immigrated in recent times. After the Malay, the Chinese are the most important group (10.3 percent of the population).
Due to strict citizenship requirements, only a few of the Chinese have Brownian citizenship, and many of them emigrated in the 1990s. The remaining part of the population is European and Asian contract workers. The country’s “brownization policy”, where the Malay is prioritized at the expense of the Chinese in working life, has received international attention. These issues have been given increased focus as the Islamization of society.
The population is concentrated with the main emphasis along the coast. Only about 10,000 people live in the eastern enclave of Temburong. The capital Bandar Seri Begawan has 100 700 residents. The oil cities of Kuala Belait and Seria have 31 178 and 30 97 residents respectively (2017). In total, 77.6 percent of the population lives in urban areas.
Islam is official religion. 78.8 percent of the population are Muslims. 8.7 percent are Christians and 7.8 percent are Buddhists. The rest of the population is affiliated with other faiths, including Confucianism.
The official language is Malay. English and Chinese are also widely used. A small minority speaks Austronesian languages.