Brunei,Officially the State of Brunei Darussalam or the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace (Malay: Negara Brunei Darussalam, , is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, it is completely surrounded by the state of Sarawak, Malaysia, and in fact it is separated into two parts by Limbang, which is part of Sarawak. It is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo, with the remainder of the island belonging to Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei's population is around 400,000 (July 2010).
Brunei can trace its beginnings to the 7th century, when it was a subject state of the Srivijayan empire under the name P'o-li. It later became a vassal state of Majapahit empire before converting to Islam in the 15th century. At the peak of its empire, the sultanate had control that extended over the coastal regions of modern-day Sarawak and Sabah, the Sulu archipelago, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. The thalassocracy was visited by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and fought the Castille War in 1578 against Spain. Its empire began to decline with the forced ceding of Sarawak to James Brooke and the ceding of Sabah to the British North Borneo Chartered Company. After the loss of Limbang, Brunei finally became a British protectorate in 1888, receiving a resident in 1906. In the post-occupation years, it formalised a constitution and fought an armed rebellion.Brunei regained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984. Economic growth during the 1970s and 1990s, averaging 56% from 1999 to 2008, has transformed Brunei Darussalam into a newly industrialised country.Brunei has the second highest Human Development Index among the South East Asia nations after Singapore, and is classified as a Developed Country. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brunei is ranked 4th in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.According to legend, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar. His move from Garang, a place in the Temburong District to the Brunei river estuary led to the discovery of Brunei. His first exclamation upon landing on the shore, as the legend goes, was “Baru nah!” (Which in English loosely translates as "that's it!" or "there") and thus, the name “Brunei” was derived from his words.It was renamed "Barunai" in the 14th Century, possibly influenced by the Sanskrit word varunai , meaning "seafarers", later to become "Brunei". The word "Borneo" is of the same origin. In the country's full name "Negara Brunei Darussalam" "Darussalam" means "Abode of Peace" in Arabic, while "Negara" means "Country" in Malay. "Negara" derives from the Sanskrit Nagara , meaning "city".The power of the Sultanate of Brunei was at its peak between the 15th to the 17th centuries, with its power extending from northern Borneo to the southern Philippines. The efforts of the Brunei Sultans in spreading Islam helped to spread the religion not only in Borneo but also as far north as to the southern Philippines islands. When Malacca fell to the Portuguese in 1511, it was Brunei that played a major role in the spread of Islam in the region.By the 16th century, Islam was firmly rooted in Brunei, and the country had built one of its biggest mosques. In 1578, Alonso Beltrán, a Spanish traveler described it as being five stories tall and built on the water. Most likely it had five layers of roofs to represent the Five Pillars of Islam. This mosque was destroyed by the Spanish in June that same year.European influence gradually brought an end to this regional power, as Brunei entered a period of decline compounded by internal strife over royal succession. Piracy was also detrimental to the kingdom. Later, there was a brief war with Spain, in which Brunei's capital was occupied. Eventually the sultanate was victorious but lost territories to Spain, including the island of Luzon. The decline of the Bruneian Empire culminated in the 19th century, when Brunei lost much of its territory to the White Rajahs of Sarawak, resulting in its current small landmass and separation into two parts. Brunei was a British protectorate from 1888 to 1984, and occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.There was a small rebellion against the monarchy during the 1960s, which was suppressed with help from the United Kingdom. This event became known as the Brunei Revolt and was partly responsible for the failure to create the North Borneo Federation. The rebellion partially affected Brunei's decision to opt out of the Malaysian Federation.Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei. Brunei has a constitutional sultanate. It has a legal system based on English common law, although Islamic shariah law supersedes this in some cases.The political system in the country is governed by the constitution and the tradition of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, the concept of “Melayu Islam Beraja” (MIB). The three components of MIB cover Malay culture, Islamic religion and the political framework under the monarchy.Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers, since 1962. The Sultan's role is enshrined in the national ideology known as Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB), or Malay Muslim Monarchy. The country has been under hypothetical martial law since Brunei Revolt of 1962. The Royal family retains a venerated status within the country.
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