Brunei Darussalam is a small, predominately Muslim sovereign state located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo. Brunei’s political system is an Islamic absolute monarchy; the current monarch, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, wields executive powers as both chief of state and head of government. The state’s judicial system is based on British common law, though Muslims in the country are also subject to Shariah law in civil and matrimonial affairs. Brunei has refused to be placed under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Brunei’s GDP was US$14.87 billion in 2009, after contractingabout 1.2% on the previous year. The standard of living is high: Per capita GDP is US$50,100, among the highest in the world. In addition, the government provides free healthcare and education to locals, and subsidizes food and housing costs.
As the third-largest crude oil producing nation in Southeast Asia, and the fourth largest producer of natural gas in the world, more than half of Brunei’s economy derives from these two commodities, which in turn constitute approximately 90% of total exports.
The government is currently trying to diversify Brunei’s economy by strengthening the banking and tourism sectors, as well as increasing agricultural production with a view to becoming a self-sufficient food producer. Brunei attracted US$239 million in foreign direct investment in 2008, and steps have been taken to facilitate further capital inflows with income tax exemptions for up to five years, depending on the scale of the investment.
Brunei is equipped with one international airport, and is linked by approximately 2,411 kilometers of paved roadways. The government is currently investing heavily to expand national infrastructure in order to meet demand tied to rising foreign investment.