Brunei is one of the oldest state institutions on Borneo
and was in the past a hub of Southeast Asian trade. Written
evidence exists for early contacts with India and China, at
least since the late 900s. In connection with the commercial
boom of the 14th century, Islam spread along the trade
routes. Brunei then became a Muslim sultanate. Hassanal
Bolkiah, who took office in 1967, is the 29th in the order
of Sultans who ruled Brunei for a total of more than 400
The heyday occurred during the 16th century, when Brunei
mastered large parts of Borneo's coastal areas and parts of
the Philippine Archipelago Act. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Brunei. The former capital Kota Batu
('the stone city') is today Borneo's most extensive ruin
area. It is described in overwhelming terms by the Italian
seaman Pigafetta, the portrayal of Magalhae's world voyage
(1521). Centuries later, the power of the Sultanate shrank
as Europeans took over trade in the area. During the second
half of the 19th century, the Sultan was forced to resign
from Sabah and Sarawak to British adventurers and trading
companies. Remains two small enclaves, made into the British
Protectorate in 1906.
At the same time, the oil deposits that today form the
basis for Brunei's prosperity were discovered. After Japan's
occupation of 1941-45, the British returned. The popular
nationalist organization Partai Rakyat won a major election
victory in 1959 but was crushed after an uprising in 1962.
Remaining on the political scene was the Sultan family,
which managed to keep Brunei outside independent Malaysia.
In this way, oil revenues were maintained ungrouped. The
Sultanate achieved autonomy in 1979 and full independence in
1984. through alcohol prohibition.