Brunei Darussalam is a small and Independent Constitutional Sultanate in the South China Sea.
Brunei Darussalam is a small and Independent Constitutional Sultanate in the South China Sea: it’s wedged between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the northwest coast of the island known as Borneo. Brunei once controlled the southern Philippines and much of Borneo, with its regional influence peaking at the end of the 17th century. In 1984 Brunei gained independence from British rule, with significant economic growth during the following decades.
- During World War II Brunei was occupied by Japan, and was subsequently liberated in 1945 by Australia.
- Today, Brunei has become an industrialised nation. Brunei benefits from its extensive natural gas fields and petroleum, and the citizens of this tax-free haven enjoy one of the highest GDPs in the world.
- It’s widely believed that the Sultan of Brunei is one of the richest men in the world.
- The legal system of Brunei is based on English common law; however, in certain instances Islamic Sharia law overrules.
- Politically, the country of Brunei has been ruled by the same family for more than six centuries.
- Visitors to Brunei today enjoy the quiet river journeys, the grand mosques, and the virgin rainforests that cover more than 70% of the nation’s land.
The Languages of Brunei
The official language of Brunei is Malay, with English, Chinese, Iban and some local languages also being spoken. A recent survey showed that a minimum of seventeen languages are used regularly in Brunei, with English being used as a second language. Malay is an Austronesian language, and is widely spoken across this region. It’s a similar language to Indonesian, and people with knowledge of the Indonesian language will generally be able to easily converse with a Malay speaker. The Malay language has taken words from other languages including Chinese, Arabic, Dutch and Portuguese.
Previously the Malay language had used an Arabic script; however, since the 17th century it has used a Latin alphabet. The pronunciation of letters in the Malay language is quite similar to that of the English language, which makes it easy for English speakers to break down words. Certainly, there are differences, but most words are written the way they’re pronounced, which makes it so much easier. Speakers of the English language who have found it difficult to learn other languages due to their complicated word genders don’t seem to have this problem with Malay: in addition, verbs are easier because tenses do not change them.
Bahasa Melayu, or Standard Malay
Historically, Brunei was the powerful Malay empire’s seat of power prior to the 16th century and the arrival of the Europeans. Because of this, Brunei should be known as Bahasa speaking; which is the same language spoken today in Indonesia and Malaysia. The language is officially known as Bahasa Melayu, or Standard Malay. Standard Malay is used in most schools.
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