Your guide to being an expatriate in Brunei

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Brunei is a small yet thriving nation situated on the north coast of Borneo, known for its pristine rainforests, diverse wildlife, and hospitable people. With a population of around 428,000 as of 2021, it boasts a high standard of living thanks to its vast oil and gas reserves. Brunei gained independence from the British in 1984 but remains a constitutional monarchy under the guidance of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Its strategic location and favorable business environment make it an attractive destination for expats seeking work and adventure.


Expat destinations in Brunei

Demographics of Brunei:

Ethnic groups

Iban: 4.3%

Malay: 66.5%

Other: 1.5%

Chinese: 24.5%

Bisaya/Cebuano: 0.6%

Kadazan/Dusun/Murut: 2.5%


Malay: official (also known as Malaysian)

English: official

Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin): spoken

Religion Overview

Brunei has a predominantly Muslim population, with Islam influencing its culture, traditions, and social norms. The state maintains a strong role in promoting Islamic practices, and religious freedom is ensured through a harmony mechanism.

Major Religions


Brunei has a tropical rainforest climate that is typically hot and humid. The temperature rarely falls below 22°C, and rainfall is abundant throughout the year.

Economy Overview

Brunei's economy is largely oil and gas-dependent, producing around 70-80% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the government has been implementing economic diversification policies in various sectors such as agriculture, telecommunications, finance, and tourism. The country's low tax regimes and business-friendly environment attract foreign investments and make it a favorable destination for expat entrepreneurs.

Key Industries

  • Oil and Gas
  • Finance and Banking
  • Telecommunications
  • Agribusiness
  • Tourism

Major Companies

  • Petroleum Brunei (PB) Berhad
  • Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP)
  • Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam
  • Telekom Brunei Berhad (TBB)
  • Hai Long Commerce & Industry Sdn Bhd

Culture and Language Overview

Brunei's Malay heritage is deeply entrenched in its cultural practices and traditions. The annual Brunei National Day and Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations are major highlights of its diverse and colorful cultural calendar. Malay, English, and Chinese are widely spoken, reflecting Brunei's multicultural and multilingual society.

Cultural Highlights

  • The annual Rainforest World Music Festival
  • Visits to the Brunei Museum gallery and exhibits
  • Attending cultural shows at the Brunei International Craft Exhibition (BRINC)
  • Exploring traditionally kampongs (villages) such as Bangar and Mangga Besar
  • Experiencing local delicacies such as nasi katok (rice and fried fish) and sabah beef

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Brunei is situated on the north coast of Borneo, boasting lush tropical rainforests, productive agricultural lands, and bustling urban centers. Its unique geography is marked by rivers, mangrove swamps, and limestone hills.

Notable Landmarks

  • Taman Nagara National Park
  • Tasek Merimbun, the world's largest lake
  • Jalan Melatom
  • a tree-lined avenue
  • Bandar Seri Begawan, the charming and historic capital city
  • Malpers and Melilas, residential districts known for their colonial-era architecture

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Borneo Day (July 22)
  • Malay Regnal Day (second Saturday in February)
  • Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (date varies)
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri (date varies)
  • Coronation Day/Gawai Dayak (first month of the Bornean Dayak Calendar)
  • Sultan's Official Birthday (fifteenth day of the twelfth lunar month)
  • Isalam's Prophet Muhammad's Ascension Day (date varies)

Political Stability

Brunei is a stable and peaceful country, with a long-standing tradition of monarchy and adherence to conservative Islamic values. Its strong civil service and bureaucratic framework contribute to a favorable economic climate, while its small population makes it an ideal destination for expats seeking stability and security.

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