The island of Borneo (the third largest island in the
world after Greenland and New Guinea with around 755,000
square kilometers) was already before the middle of the
third millennium BC. settled when peoples from the back
of India and southern China immigrated to the island.
Around the 3rd century AD Hinduism and later Buddhism
spread through Indian merchants and missionaries. From
the 9th century the existence of a Hindu kingdom Brunei
in northern Borneo is documented. Until the 15th
century, this kingdom was largely dependent on the
Indonesian empires (Srivijaya, from the 14th century
From the 10th century, Arab merchants had settled on
the north coast of Borneo and spread Islam there. In
1410 the Kingdom of Brunei declared itself an
independent sultanate, Islam became the state religion.
Within a few decades, Brunei was able to extend its
influence to almost the entire island of Borneo and,
thanks to its large fleet, rose to become the dominant
trading power in the South China Sea.
The decline of the Sultanate began with the European
colonization of Southeast Asia. In 1580 the Spaniards
were able to conquer part of Brunei, but only for a
short time. From the beginning of the 17th century, the
Netherlands became the dominant colonial power on the
Southeast Asian islands. The island of Borneo came under
the control of the Netherlands, with the exception of
the origin of the Sultanate of Brunei on the north
In 1841 the Sultan of Brunei, with the help of
British troops led by Sir James Brooke, put down an
uprising in Sarawak. In gratitude for the support, the
Sultan appointed the British officer governor of Sarawak
province. British colonial power also became
increasingly important in the fight against piracy in
the South China Sea, for which purpose the Sultan of
Brunei left the offshore island of Labuan to the British
in 1846. In 1877 the Sultan had to sell the province of
Sabah to the British trading company "North Borneo
Company". The rest of the Sultanate was placed under
British protection in 1888.
Formally, Brunei remained independent as a sultanate,
but it was under the control of a British resident,
while the sultan only had a representative function. In
1929 large oil deposits were discovered on the territory
During the Second World War, the island of Borneo (as
well as almost all of Southeast Asia) was occupied by
Japanese troops. After the Japanese surrender in 1945,
Brunei became a British administrative area again: these
were only parts of the original sultanate. Much of
Borneo became part of the newly formed "Republic of the
United States of Indonesia" under the name "Kalimantan".
The provinces of Sarawak and Sabah became British crown
colonies in 1946.
According to AbbreviationFinder,
the Sultanate of Brunei received the right to
internal self-government and a first constitution in
1959. This established the almost unlimited power of the
sultan. After an uprising by the Brune People's Party in
1962, the state of emergency was declared (and is still
in force today).
The colonial power of Great Britain wanted to join
the Sultanate of Malaysia (Malaya, Singapore, Sabah,
Sarawak), which was founded in 1963, but the country,
which had become extremely rich thanks to oil
production, refused to join.
Brunei received full internal autonomy in 1971, but
remained a British protectorate at its own request. It
was only in January 1984 that "Brunei Darussalam" became
independent as a state and in the same year became a
member of the East Asian association "ASEAN"
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) founded in
1967. Bandar Seri Begawan was officially named the
capital. In September 1984 Brunei was admitted to the
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah had ruled the country as
an absolute monarch since 1967. He banned parties in
1988 - the only opposition party allowed is the National
Democratic Party, which was founded in 1985 and which is
unsuccessfully pushing for democratization.
To date, the country's foreign policy guidelines have
been determined by the continued close ties to the
former colonial power of Great Britain and the
integration into the ASEAN community of states. The
ASEAN Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2002.
Brunei also has good relations with the western
industrialized nations and the USA.