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Brunei


Sultanate of N Borneo in SE Asia. Band ar Seri Begawan is the capital. In the 16th century the Islamic kingdom of Brunei controlled Borneo, the Philippines, and the Sulu Archipelago, but its power began to wane with the growth of Dutch and Portuguese influence. By the 19th century it controlled only Sarawak, Brunei, and part of northern Borneo. Reduced to its present size by 1877, it became a British protectorate in 1888. It was under Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. In 1959, a written constitution went into effect, where Brunei remained a Sultanate and British Protectorate governed by a chief minister, a council of ministers, and an elected legislative council. In 1962, the legislative council was disband ed after elections won by an antimonarchist left-wing party. In 1970, the legislative council was made an appointed body. Brunei became fully independent in 1984, and the legislative council was suspended the same year. After independence, sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah became an absolute monarch. The sultan developed a welfare state under his control using revenue from Brunei’s plentiful oil reserves. In the late 1990s, Brunei was affected by the 1997–98 Asian economic crisis, losing billions of dollars in investments. In 1998, the sultan’s son, Prince al-Muhtadee Billah, was named as the official heir to the throne. In 2004, the sultan reconvened an appointed 21-member legislative council, and signed a constitutional amendment calling for a future partially elected council.


     

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