The Islamic Sultanate of Brunei is one of the smallest countries in the world – and richest, thanks to its treasure trove of oil. It is known chiefly for the astounding affluence of its sultan, who is one of the wealthiest men on Earth, and for its tax-free, subsidised society.
Brunei is often considered as a recently emerged nation grown rich from its oil. In fact, it is an ancient kingdom, with a long tradition of seafaring and trading. For instance, trade with China dates back to the 7th century and the seaborne trade brought its people into contact with Arabia in the 15th century. When the Portuguese first hit the shores of Brunei in the 15th century they were stunned by the opulence of the Sultanate and its thriving community.
Years of hardship caused by the war with Spain, civil war, Dutch and Japanese occupation, British intervention finally led to independence in 1984 and the country could start to benefit from their plentiful oil reserves without any disturbance.
Brunei`s official name is Negara Brunei Darussalam, or “the Abode of Peace”, and already its name implies that this is not a place of a vibrant life and fun. Being a strictly Muslim enclave there is neither alcohol nor nightlife to be expected in Brunei. Religion and worship are the fundamental virtues and so peace spreads across the land.
The country`s cultural heritage, tropical climate and its remote location on the northeast coast of Borneo make it be a very intriguing destination. Bordering with Malaysian Sarawak, its untouched virgin jungles teeming with fauna and flora offer some stunning national parks, great for trekking and wildlife spotting. And for diving enthusiasts, the Brunei coast is rich in rarely frequent underwater treasures.