The Sultanate of Brunei (Negara Brunei Darussalam) officially Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace is a small country, rich in natural gas and petroleum resources. It is surrounded by Malaysia and has two parts physically separated by Malaysia, almost being an enclave. Strategically located on the South China Sea, close to vital sea lanes linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it has an exclusive economic fishing zone that extends as far as Louisa Reef in the southern Spratly Islands. It is known for its beaches and biodiverse rainforest, much of it protected within reserves. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes. The capital's massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan.
Although Islam is the state religion of Brunei Darussalam, it is also a country that prides itself on the diversity of its people – including their religions. Visitors are welcome in the mosques, however, proper attire is required; women are required to cover their head, shoulders, and knees. Some mosques will provide simple robes and shawls to meet these standards. Shoes are to be removed before entering.
If you need to gesture or point in Brunei, you should point with the thumb of your right hand instead of your index finger. It is also customary in Brunei to lightly touch hands and bring your hand to your chest while shaking hands. Many Muslim women do not shake hands with men due to religious reasons, so do not be alarmed by this.
Never pass in front of people in prayer, and it is highly advised for non-muslims to not touch the Holy Al-Quran. As a courtesy, ask for permission before taking photographs of locals, landmarks or government buildings (especially inside places such as museums or mosques).
- Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan
- Dialing code: +673
- Currency: Brunei dollar
- Population: 417,784 (2013) World Bank
- When to Visit: All year-round
- Climate: Tropical climate, rainy season Sep-Nov
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