Brunei Darussalam : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
79 years
Primary enrolment: 

418,000 (2013); 77 per cent of people live in urban areas, concentrated along the coast; growth 2.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 16 per 1,000 people (36 in 1970); life expectancy 79 years (67 in 1970).

Malays comprise some two-thirds of the population, and Chinese (about 11 per cent), Europeans, Indians and other races the balance.


Official language is Malay; English is widely spoken. Other languages include Chinese (various dialects), Tamil, Iban and Dusun.


Official religion is Islam; minorities of Buddhists, Christians, Confucians and Taoists. The national ideology, Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB, Malay Muslim monarchy) fuses Islamic values and Brunei Malay culture.


Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2012. There are ten hospitals, health clinics, travelling clinics and a flying doctor service. Infant mortality was eight per 1,000 live births in 2013 (63 in 1960). Malaria has been completely eradicated


Public spending on education was 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2013. The primary component of a new education system was introduced during 2009–11. Under this system, there are six years of primary school, starting at the age of six and leading to Primary School Assessment, or Penilaian Sekolah Rendah, and, depending on academic ability, either four or five years of secondary school, leading to the Brunei/Cambridge or London Edexcel International GCE O-Level exams. The school year starts in January.

On the establishment of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in Bandar Seri Begawan in 1985, local pursuit of degree courses became possible. The government, nevertheless, continued to award scholarships to qualified Brunei citizens to undertake courses of study not yet available at UBD and many Bruneians continue their studies in other Commonwealth countries or other countries such as the USA. Other institutions at tertiary level include the Jefri Bolkiah College of Engineering at Kuala Belait; and the Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University and Institut Teknologi Brunei at Gadong, Bandar Seri Begawan. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.70:1 (2011). There is virtually no illiteracy among people aged 15–24.


Borneo Bulletin is an English-language daily newspaper. Media Permata is published daily in Malay, and BruDirect is an online news service.

Radio Television Brunei provides radio and television services, broadcasting in Malay, English, Mandarin Chinese and Gurkhali. Foreign TV stations are available via a cable network.

There are 89 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 673; internet domain ‘.bn’. Coin- and card-operated public telephones are available throughout the country. There is good mobile phone coverage in and around the main towns, particularly in the north-west.

For every 1,000 people there are 136 landlines, 1,122 mobile phone subscriptions and 645 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, National Day (23 February), Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day (31 May), Sultan’s Birthday (15 July) and Christmas Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Prophet’s Birthday, Isra Mikraj (Ascension of the Prophet), First Day of Ramadan, Nuzul al-Quraan (Anniversary of the Revelation of the Quran), Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid al-Fitr/end of Ramadan), Hari Raya Aidil Adha (Eid al-Adha/Feast of the Sacrifice) and Hijriah (Islamic New Year).