Brunei is a sultanate kingdom located in Southeast Asia, bordering Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is one of the richest countries in the region along with Singapore, due to its oil industry.
Brunei was a former British Colony in the Far East, part of Malaya. During World War II, Brunei along with the rest of Malaya was occupied by the Japanese forces up until 1945.
On July 10, 1946, the United Kingdom annexed Sabah. In the late 1950s, the Federation of Malaya was formed where it would become Malaysia by 1963. Singapore was kicked out of the Federation in 1965, where it became an independent nation on its own. Eventually, Singapore would rise as an economic hub in Asia. The United Kingdom allowed the United States to train its forces the jungles of Brunei (along with the Philippines and Guam) as the country deployed troops during the Vietnam War.
As the 1980s came, Brunei and Hong Kong were one of the last colonies of the UK in Asia, alongside with Hong Kong.
Brunei became independent from the United Kingdom on January 1, 1984. A week later, on the January 7, Brunei became a member of ASEAN.
World War III
During World War III, British forces still present in the newly-independent Brunei were on high alert just in case of a Communist insurgency in Borneo and the surrounding regions. When the People's Republic of China entered the war, both Bruneian and British military forces were mobilized to defend the country's claim on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Brunei was also used as a staging point for British reinforcements to Hong Kong. Brunei offered its ports to any allied warship fighting in Southeast Asia, particularly to the other Commonwealth nations such as Australia and New Zealand.
The country also supported the Philippines when the Chinese mounted an offensive to distract allied forces in Korea, mainly in the form of funding and clandestinely inserting some of its forces to support the U.S. and the Philippines in expelling the Chinese. Bruneian troops were deployed to the southern Philippines mainly to act as peacekeepers in Mindanao on the request of the Aquino administration, mainly as a deterrence to the MNLF, MILF, and the NPA; all while the Philippine military fought the PLA in Luzon.
Brunei became one of the richest countries of Southeast Asia following the war. This is attributed to the fact that it was untouched by both China and the Soviet Union, despite being on the Allied side of the war. The massive amounts of oil within the sultanate was able to make up its post war economy. From the 2000s to the 2010s, Brunei's status as a wealthy country is challenged by that of Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.
Brunei's political system is governed by the constitution and the national tradition of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, the concept of Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB). The three components of MIB cover Malay culture, Islamic religion, and the political framework under the monarchy. It has a legal system based on English common law, although Islamic shariah law supersedes this in some cases. Brunei has a parliament but there are no elections; the last election was held in 1962.
The Sultan of Brunei is Hassanal Bolkiah (title known as: His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah). He has ruled since 1962 and has full authority over the state.
Brunei is one of the only Southeast Asian nations to have large reserves of oil, namely crude oil and natural gas. This oil is exported to its neighbors and to the West. This accounts majority of the Sultanate's GDP.
Brunei depends heavily on imports such as agricultural products (e.g. rice, food products, livestock, etc.),[motorcars and electrical products from other countries. Brunei imports 60% of its food requirements; of that amount, around 75% come from the ASEAN countries. It trades crops, fruits, and vegetables with the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Chinese Federated Union.
Brunei is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It has warm relations with the ASEAN member states in which economic cooperation is recommended. Because of its oil industry, it has attracted the attention of the West, particularly the United States - which is more than willing to buy its oil and form an alliance with the country.
Some challenges in its diplomatic relations is that status of Sabah and the South China Sea issue. For Sabah, the country has been locked in a centuries old dispute with the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. In the South China Sea, the country rivals its claims with the the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Chinese Federated Union. Talks regarding this status will are expected to be held in 2016 and 2017.
As of current times, Brunei also disputes Sabah with Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.