Brunei – an independent and Muslim enclave (two separate pieces actually) on the Island of Borneo surrounded by Malaysia and Indonesia. Governed religiously by a 600 year bloodline of Sultans, it has since its 1984 independence from Great Britain been governed politically by the same man as King. The current King/Sultan ( Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam), 71, has served as Sultan for 50 years this week.
The population of 440,000 is 78% Sunni, 15% Buddhist and 6% Christian. Guest workers from neighboring countries provide most of the low skilled work force. Taxis are scare since most everyone own cars.
Kampong Ayer – Water Village (referred to as Venice of the East) are wooden homes built on stilts housing approx. 10% of the population. A bustling community with taxi boats buzzing about.
Oil and gas provide for perhaps the highest standard of living in the developed world, but the application of Sharia law (e.g. death for blasphemy and blatant sexual discrimination) moderate the praise for this clean, healthy little country.
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