Animals and Plants
Rainforest in Brunei
Brunei is heavily forested: around three quarters of the entire state is covered with tropical rainforest.
Which plants grow in the rainforest in Brunei?
Different species of plants and animals live and grow in the rainforest. Many forest areas are referred to as so-called primary forests. These are forests that are really completely untouched by humans. These forests in Brunei are mostly protected areas so that they remain primary forests. Different indigenous peoples live in other parts of the rainforests. They live in the middle of the forest, cut off from what we call “civilization”. In order to protect people and their way of life, such indigenous peoples are also allowed to hunt animals in the forests. People who hunt with guns and just for fun are not allowed to do so. Because protective weapons are prohibited.
Rich in oil
The wealth of Brunei can be traced back to the country’s oil deposits, as huge fields were discovered here in 1929. Almost all of the oil and gas are exported to other countries. The main customers are Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, but also the USA.
However, the global decline in demand for oil and natural gas has meanwhile also had consequences for the Brunei economy. Youth unemployment rose to 29% in 2019. Even the Sultan is now thinking about how that can be changed.
No taxes in Brunei
Brunei is the richest country in the third world. It has a budget surplus and no national debt like most countries in the world. Because the state is so rich, people don’t have to pay taxes. The petroleum also protects the country’s rainforests. Deforestation for purely economic reasons in order to earn money is not necessary in Brunei. Nevertheless, people are now trying to grow rice here. But since three quarters of the area is covered by rainforest, the clearing of the forest began to plant rice there.
Brunei is slowly opening up to tourism and so in the future money will flow into the country through tourists. Brunei advertises with a low crime rate, traveling in Brunei is fairly safe for tourists. The malaria disease, which is widespread in Asia, does not exist in Brunei. In terms of tourism, however, the country is far from being so developed that tourism would be an important source of income. So far Brunei has not been dependent on it either, at least not as long as the oil is flowing.
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is quite an eye-catcher and tourist magnet in Brunei. It stands in the capital of the country and is the undisputed landmark of Brunei. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asian Pacific region. The mosque was named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddin. Prayers take place here, and the Islamic call to prayer echoes from there – five times a day.
An extravagant wedding
Weddings are celebrated extensively in Brunei. No wonder that the wedding of Crown Prince Muhtadee Billah and his bride Sarah Salleh was particularly celebrated. Thousands of guests from all over the world were invited. The bridal couple was richly adorned with gold and diamonds at this celebration. The wedding dress of the 17-year-old bride cost about four million euros. But you can afford that in Brunei, after all, Sultan Hassanal is one of the richest men in the world.
Introduction of Sharia law
In 2014, Sharia law was introduced in Brunei. But what does that mean? Human rights organizations were upset when they heard of the sultan’s plans. Certain misconducts should now be punishable according to the strict laws of Sharia. And these punishments are severe. Stoning and lashes are part of it and, in the worst case, the death penalty. Those who offend the Koran or commit adultery can face this type of punishment. Before the Sultan introduced Sharia law, he traveled to Saudi Arabia to find out more about it. It is not yet known what consequences this form of jurisdiction will actually have. In many Islamic countries, women in particular fall victim to severe punishments such as stoning.
Application of Sharia law
Can you find Brunei on the map? The best thing to do is to look in Southeast Asia first, which is roughly over Australia (i.e. to the right or east of the world map). In Indonesia and other states in this region, Sharia is mostly applied differently from region to region. This can be seen from the fact that most of the islands are orange. How do we find Brunei now? You may remember that Brunei shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia and Indonesia. All three states apply the Sharia differently, so the island has three different colors. Did you find her? As you can see, it’s orange (Indonesia), yellow (Malaysia), and also has a splash of purple (Brunei). In Brunei, the Sharia is fully applicable.
What do the residents think?
And what about the residents? In Brunei people hold back with criticism, also and above all with criticism of the state and the Sultan. On the other hand, large parts of the population enjoy a more carefree life than the average people in Asia. They receive free education and can look forward to a health system that also costs them nothing. But for this better economic life they pay with their personal freedom.
A quiet capital
Although the capital of Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan, often abbreviated as BSB, is a wealthy city, it is cozy here. One looks in vain for pomp and splendor, except for the mosques, which are well equipped. It’s not as loud and hectic as in other Asian cities and the noise from old mopeds is almost completely absent. A lot of new cars are driving through the city. Since the restaurants close in the evening and there is no bar life at all, it remains very quiet in the evening.
Shops close on Fridays
Shops, restaurants and food stands of all kinds have to close on Friday between 12 noon and 2 p.m. The authorities are also closed because this is the time of traditional prayer.
A special feature of the city are the water villages called Kampung Ayer. These are old settlements on stilts where people have lived for 1000 years. Here the children go to their own schools and there is even a fire brigade. Around 30,000 people have a home in these settlements. The best way to reach destinations here is by boat or water taxi. The houses are lavishly decorated and it is a small world in itself. But the downside of this peaceful aquatic life is the rubbish that mostly drifts below the houses built on stilts.
Children and School
Is there child poverty in Brunei?
According to best-medical-schools, there are no figures on child labor in Brunei. There is little information about this. Although the country is so rich, it can be assumed that there are also poorer children who, for example, have to beg on the streets. Especially during the Hari-Raya festival, which ends the fasting month of Ramadan, the number of children begging on the street increases. The law forbids any kind of child labor in Brunei. Still, there are parents who send children out into the streets. The government is trying to counter this.
School in Brunei
Schooling in Brunei is free and there is also compulsory schooling for twelve years. If you want to go to school longer, you can continue to do so free of charge. That is why most men and women in Brunei can read and write.